World Staffing Podcast #3 with Mark Pollok, CEO of Trenkwalder Germany


Intro: This is a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast. The interview podcast brought to you by, where we meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. We're interested in what drives them, what inspires them. We want to know what their everyday work looks like and what keeps them up at night.

We should all learn from them and at the same time, have a good time. And this is your host, Jan Jedlinski.

Jan Jedlinski: Welcome to a brand new episode of the World Staffing Podcast, where I meet with entrepreneurs, successful business owners and the greatest minds of the staffing industry. I'm interested in what drives them, what inspires them. I want to know what their everyday work looks like and what keeps them up at night.

My name is Jan and I'm your host for today. I'm super excited to welcome a very special guest for today's episode. He's from Germany. He started his career in consulting and brings a very fresh perspective into the staffing industry. He's the CEO of Germany Trenkwalder. One of the most successful European staffing and recruiting companies.

Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast, Mark. Mark before we dive in and I have a ton of questions for you. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you drifted from the consulting side of being a consultant to actually becoming the CEO of Trenkwalder.

Mark Pollok: Yeah. First of all, thank you for the invitation.

I'm very excited to talk with you about Trenkwalder and about the industry. I got in touch with Trenkwalder and the staffing industry over 10 years ago. I used to work for the shareholder for Trenkwalder, Trenkwalder. And yeah, 10 years ago, I got in touch with a strike by the industry. And in 2018, the shareholder decided to further develop Trenkwalder Germany, more or less as a blueprint for the whole Trenkwalder group.

My targets in 2018 and set off to date is to renew the business and two, to think out of the box. And this was a task that I started this job. My target is to think or call process modulators and to try to make them better and try them. Think of certain steps that need to be adjusted in the industry and drank by that has a big, big history in the past, but the processes were very complex and my task is to, to understand the process and the first step, and then try to develop them within the organization and to try to make it better.

Jan Jedlinski: Also, I mean, I think that, you know, for when you, when you set that process and digitalization, I think that brings up a ton of questions that I have afterwards for you. But thank you so much for being here and for the introduction. I'm super excited also to learn more about Trenkwalder and to talk about, you know, You guys are working on today and what inspires you to drive the business forward.

But I always love to start with a question that is very broad actually, and it can have many answers, but what keeps you up at night these days as the CEO of the company?

Mark Pollok: Yeah, what I understand is, well, what a long time ago is that, of course we have a war for talent right now, especially in the German European sector in this staffing industry.

And the key is to work fast and work efficient, right? And this keeps me up at night. So therefore of course, thinking about the core process and thinking about it, how to make it better, how to make the recruiting process better, how to make administration better with our talents. This is something that keeps me up, but we need two specific perspectives.

The first one, of course, is the candidate side. And the second one is the customer's side. Sometimes we need to advise candidates on the career path. And of course we need to make customer understand what is our use key and why they are working with us. And this is, this is the question that keeps me up at night.

Jan Jedlinski: Great.

And I think, you know, there's, there's a lot to follow up on that. And as you mentioned, Trenkwalder has a long history. It was founded in 1985, actually in Austria, not very far from where I live today and the company grew to become one of the largest staffing and recruiting companies in Europe. I personally actually have a very close relationship and connection to the company.

Basically the birthplace for my own business in one of the first days, when I started out, I won a day with the CEO of Trenkwalder, Austria in 2016, back then it was Mr. Klaus layer. Who Basically gave me a deep dive into his Workday. And I was super excited to learn about the topics he was dealing with.

Back then, there were a lot of conversations about technology and innovation and change in the industry. So I believe that you, as a consultant, bring a very special and fresh perspective into staffing. You looked at the industry from the outside and said, something has to change and you need to do things better in differently.

What are the things that you're doing different and why?

Mark Pollok: Yeah, I think very important for us is to rethink the old business, right? How we, how we call it more. And of course we see a lot of trends and working fast and communicate fast to candidates. And our workforce is key right now.

We try to manage all services digitally, meaning for example, digital signing off contracts, digital onboarding, digital training,digital administration. This is the key for the business. And this is something that also differentiates us from our competitors. We have many, many companies working in the staffing industry, maybe over 50,000 companies in Germany are working in this industry. This is a lot, but they are not so many want to touch the processes and want to work with this.

There are a couple of companies, of course, the startups that's trying to rethink the industry. But I think Trenkwalder has a huge know-how base, especially regarding staffing and the connection with our customers. And this is the only advantage, but something was missing in the company. And this is something that we are trying to bring to Trenkwalder and try to make it better.

Jan Jedlinski: Very cool. Very cool. And you know, actually that brings me to a question about innovation. And as you mentioned in Germany, there's 50,000 staff and companies in Austria is probably, you know, a couple thousand as well. And I personally see the market is moving in Austria, very slow compared to markets like the US it's the German market far behind.

And do even look at your peers in the US what they are doing.

Mark Pollok: Yeah, of course. And the US industry, they are best practices. And of course, we look at the companies and see what they are doing, how they do it and try to summarize the best ideas and try to implement it. Right. Of course we have different rules and different laws in the countries, but sometimes we see approaches very successful approaches.

In the US or UK market, it's also quite a big market. And try to develop it further and yeah, we are not a copycat, but we try to make it better.

Jan Jedlinski: Absolutely. And I heard you actually speaking on a different podcast recently about the candidate journey. You said that it's super important for you that candidates should see you as the partner that helps them to find a new role every time, even after the first placement, which actually takes me to the hot topic of redeployment, historically staffing firms have done.

This topic of redeployment is really poor. How do you handle that at Trenkwalder? And what do you specifically look at the candidate journey and what is important for you when it comes to redeploying candidates? Do you have any success with it.

Mark Pollok: Key is here, and this is something that we have in, in our company. We have recruiters and they have a huge knowledge base and of course our recruiter.

They are the connection to our candidates. Enter our workforce. And key for us is to increase the value of the recruiter. The recruiter is nowadays a modern advisor to the candidates and to the customers. They recruit any to understand say it. And the USP that's that we are giving to the customers.

But the recruiter also needs to understand what is the journey of,  our workforce. We have our own learning platform. For example, it's called Papa guy. We are offering here not only language courses, but also certain modules, which might develop our talents that we have, right. For bookkeeping. But we have also very specific courses which are designed together with our customers.

And this is the journey that we try to do with our talents, helping them to develop over the next couple of years. And try to understand what is, what does that target and trying to understand how we reached this together. I give you an example. I was just in touch with a candidate. He's a young, young engineer is now working with a long-term customer of ours.

And he came to us and said, okay, I want to see my . Most of the companies in the industry And we give him the access because we have the connections into the industry and we can help them. Okay. Look at this company, maybe look at this company, do you find super cool projects here? And we help you to, to get those projects and develop your no hobbies that you have and the, the new generation they want.

They want to, they do not want to work. For the next 20 years with one company that wants to see new stuff, maybe they're the ones to go abroad for a couple of years. And also there, we have connections within Europe and helping them to find the right position.

Jan Jedlinski: That's fantastic. And as you mentioned, the recruiter being essentially the consultant or the curator for the candidates over the last 18 months, there has been an explosive growth in staffing firms, looking at adopting a platform based models to basically enable a recruiter, less staffing.

And I'm wondering, how do you see this? So you think that the recruiter is going away anytime soon, I guess, from what you just said, you think that, you know, the chief recruiter will be even more into focus in the future.

Mark Pollok: Yeah, it is, it is key for us. What is the advantage of a platform? And of course also, I also think of Trenkwalder as a platform because, in, in some, some places, the big advantage of a platform is that a platform optimizes all processes, but connects it to the candidate and connected it to the customer.

And the advantage of the platform is to get rid of all time consuming processes. And we need to make sure. And this is also something that we highly focused on to get rid of all type time consuming processes and try to automate it right. And try to increase the value of any recruiter in any recruiters time that we have.

And this is something that I'm a hundred percent sure at the platform we're not get rid of recruiter. Recruiter would increase in value. Highly.

Jan Jedlinski: I agree. I totally agree. And I see the market moving into the same direction. Let's shift gears a little bit in over the last two years. Obviously the topic of remote work is, you know, very hot.

Everybody's talking about it fully remote or hybrid work. How do you handle that? A Trenkwalder and what are you seeing with your clients? Is the remote work movement going away or do you see more customers even hiring remote workers today?

Mark Pollok: Yeah, of course, right now also they have a couple of examples, right?

We need, you need industry experts. And the industry understands this, that sometimes experts work from another country may be on also working from home. This is the new word, and this is something that also the industry accepts that now. And we see at the customer side, how we do it internally and again, here.

Digital processes. And also a lot of staffing companies, they called it in the past for Geiger shift, right. In a branch. And this is something that is from my understanding. This is totally wrong. And this is something from the past right now we find virtual teams, right. And virtual teams can work together.

If the processes are digital and they're connected. Like when they're sitting in the city as sitting in an office. Right. And it's all about communication and processes. I give you an example. We have a couple of clients all over Germany and I'll recruit us an expert with this specific industry. And of course we adjust our processes and that the customers within one industry.

We'll be connected with one bushel team from us because those are the experts. They understand the industry, they understand how it works. We have the talents and we can connect them all over Germany or Europe. This is key for us and yes, the home office is possible, but it needs to be managed.

Jan Jedlinski: I agree. I agree.

What would you advise someone who is starting a staffing company today? When you look back at the last couple of years running staffing from different perspectives, what would you say to somebody that is starting out with the business today?

Mark Pollok: Right. I think very important for us, a new recruiter of course, needs to get familiar with the tools which are up to date right now.

Right. So online marketing needs to understand it on a, on a very basic. But we have our own competence center. And when you come to work with us, a new recruiter, he gets a perfect onboarding end and key forces, of course, to get in touch with our competence center, to have a certain training and focus on how recruiting is is done by, on our side and how we understand recruiting.

As we said before also key is to not only understand recruiting, but also get a higher understanding of administration sales. But the recruiter also needs to understand the USP of the company and then he can, you can sell it and he can sell the passion also too to the candidates. He needs to convince and advise the candidates come to us and work with us, because we have the best opportunity.

So you need to understand where the market is going. And this is something that a person who is getting into an industry it's done. It's done.

Jan Jedlinski: Cool. Thank you so much for this advice. One last question, before I let you go, what is your go-to source for staffing news when do you want to learn new things about the industry? Where do you go?

Mark Pollok: To be very honest, we have our own competence center and I get a weekly briefing from them. So what we do there, of course, we, we look at certain tools that, which might help us to be fast and to be more efficient. This is one topic. And secondly, of course we have industry fast, which are very important for me on that fast that we had over the last couple of years.

And I also have a very close connection to competitors. Of course, we are working with competitors and we have an exchange how recruiting is going and what are the trends and what is the other doing? And this is very important for me to listen and understand, to adjust. And this is something that is very important.

And of course, when I'm reading the newspaper in the morning, of course, I've always in my, in my head. What might affect our business and what are the trends on the market? And this is something very important for the staffing industry, because, of course, what we see right now in the after pandemic phase is that the industry needs to adjust the industry needs more flexible work workforce, and they have other needs right now, right before, before Corona.

And this is something that we trying to understand and trying to. A little bit before the mega trend is coming.

Jan Jedlinski: That's a good advice for every staffing owner and operator to actually look not only for what's happening in the industry, but also outside of the industry. And basically take a look at the outside and then think, how can this affect my business?

What can I do to actually be in front of my competitors with changes in the markets? That's great. Where can listeners find you online and also learn more about yourself and Trenkwalder?

Mark Pollok: Yeah, of course Our company page. And of course here, for us, the social media. So Facebook, LinkedIn saying this is something where you can find us.

And yeah, when you want to understand more about our services, what we do is over the last year, we produced many videos on our services. We call it Staffing Plus. This is our full digital service managed to me. We have all our videos on the videos there, but also we have other products like Business Process Outsourcing.

We have detailed information, which you can find on all social media, or YouTube channels.

Jan Jedlinski: Awesome. And we will link those videos in the Podcast bio. So you'll definitely be able to find them. Thank you so much, Mark, for joining this episode, this was a super interesting conversation. I hope everybody who is listening is able to get some insights specifically, also with the angle from the German staffing markets.

I appreciate your time Mark, and I'll see you soon.

Mark Pollok: Thank you.

End: You've been listening to the World Staffing Podcast, brought to you by the digital storefront for your staffing business. If you liked this episode, make sure to subscribe and leave a review so you don't miss out on any future episodes. Got a topic you want us to touch base on. Shoot us a message.

Welcome to the World Staffing Podcast where we speak with success-full staffing owners and operators to learn about the things that keep them up at night, their success stories, learnings and failures while building a successful staffing company and their thoughts on the future of the staffing market.

In this episode, Jan meets Mark Pollok CEO of Trenkwalder Germany. They discuss his journey from being a consultant to becoming the CEO of Europes most important staffing providers and how technology will change the industry. They also dive into working remotely at Trenkwalder and where Mark gets daily news about the industry.

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