For this Recruiter Spotlight, Aditi Jenkins interviews Leon Commissaris, Founder of SPRING SEARCH International, a Life Sciences Executive Search firm based in the Netherlands.
They discuss his background, the impact of Covid-19 just as he was starting his business industry, and why he decided to invest in FileFinder Executive Search Software, as well as his overall impressions of working with the Ikiru People team.
Watch the video, or read the transcript below:
Welcome to Recruiter Spotlight, brought to you by Ikiru People. My name is Aditi Jenkins, and this morning I have Mr Leon Commissaris on the call with me, he’s with SPRING SEARCH International in the Netherlands. Welcome Leon and thank you for your time.
Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure being here and a pleasure talking to you as always.
Tell me a little bit about your background and experience working in Executive Search, Leon.
I started SPRING SEARCH International only this year actually, in February right before the pandemic. Maybe just to give you some background, I’m 52 years old and I always say that there are three major decisions in my life that I took spontaneously and with all my heart. And the first one was that, when I was 14, I had my first piano lesson. And after my second piano lesson, I told my parents, “well, this is it, after high school, I’m going to the conservatory to study classical piano”. And I did that, and I graduated. And, right after that, I went into the Pharmaceutical industry for 25 years.
The second snap decision was when I was 42, ten years ago, when I met my lovely wife. We had our first date, and I thought, this is going to be my wife. After one year we got married, and we bought a little farm, up north in the Netherlands, and we’re happy to this day.
And now, the third snap decision. And that probably is a bit more on-topic here. That was last year, I thought to myself, I’m hitting 50, there’s one chance in life to do what you would love to do. And I thought, what are the main things that I love doing? What am I good at? What gives me energy instead of taking energy from me? And my answer was everything that has to do with people: inspiring people, connecting people, networking. It was all people, people, people, people. And so, right that moment, I thought I’ve been working all my life for an employer, but now, I’m going to be on my own. I want to start my own Executive Search firm. I went to my wife, totally expecting that she would say “You are crazy. What are you doing? We have a mortgage!” But she said, “I think you’re going to be successful.”
That was the end of it, and I started in February this year, and of course very tough because in March you had to pandemic coming, with the lockdown in the Netherlands. So that was a bit of a bother of course and a bit of a scare, but I can tell you that I’ve had customers from day one and I’m still doing well actually. Luckily SPRING SEARCH International is oriented on the Life Sciences and the Health industry and so I’m doing my first steps this year, and I did my first big projects, and I couldn’t be happier with having decided to go for this.
Congratulations, this is such good news especially in this global market, you are absolutely in the right industry and that makes sense. What type of services do you offer? What level do you recruit for, Director and above? Tell me a little bit more about your business.
My business is Executive Search, so I’m focused and geared towards the more higher-level functions. That is what I do. There’s also a bit of consultancy in there because there needs to be a good job analysis and especially for smaller companies that want to make it and want to grow into Europe. So, that’s the international part, but there’s also a lot of cultural things that need to be discussed. The job analysis has to be spot on, so I also engage in a lot of consultancy. You are looking for, let’s say, a Business Development Manager but what profile are you exactly looking for? So, I put a lot of effort into that.
How has Covid-19 impacted your business?
It’s a bit hard to tell because I started right when Covid-19 started, so this is the reality that I’m dealing with at SPRING SEARCH International. I can assume ways that I would have been affected had I started earlier with my company. I’ve been recruiting in France, Spain, Italy and Germany recently, and I pledged that I would speak in person to every candidate. Obviously, that is not the case now because it’s just against regulations, we can’t travel, etc. So, that is a really big impact and I think a real big burden because I do think that as an Executive Search recruiter, you really need to feel a candidate, and I think video calling is OK, but it only goes so far… you miss some kind of chemistry.
So, that is different, and I do foresee that it is going to be the norm for the future as well, so there will be much more digitally savvy ways of doing business. I would venture to say that I was lucky enough to have had assignments from day one. I’m in a very comfortable place right now and I’m looking forward to the future, and also like anyone in the world, looking forward to an end to this very sad pandemic that we’re all experiencing.
Now, we’re going to talk about FileFinder, that’s how you and I met. What made you choose FileFinder and why did you invest in it?
I’m a guy that needs some structure, I like to have something in one place. I looked at CRM systems, I looked at ATS systems. And then one day, I came across FileFinder, and I found it to offer both. It’s like an integrated thing where you can take your projects from A to Z, so you can manage the entire project from within one platform. And that really got my attention.
And then I planned a demonstration to have a feel about the program. And the second thing that really captured me with FileFinder, it was the people working for Ikiru People. The first session I’ve had was with Jason Starr – I think he’s your CEO, right? I thought it was amazing that the CEO of a company takes time to show the works to a newbie guy that just wants to have a look. That really captured me right off the bat. And ever since I’ve been talking to Ikiru People, I’ve been amazed by how customer-focused they are, and how friendly they are, and how professional they are. That does it for me. The program offers me everything I like, it’s really customizable as well, you can do so many things with it, it is unbelievable.
But as I told you earlier, I like people, and the people at Ikiru People are exceptionally warm and customer-focused, so that really binds me also to FileFinder.
Would you say that FileFinder has been helping you, since you started using it, to grow your business?
Absolutely, I would say that. Starting your own business where you endeavour into some realm that you’ve never been in before, that really asks for something that is like a beacon for you, something for you to hold on to. And I think that FileFinder gives you just that. It has helped me in focusing myself, just keeping things together, keeping things organized, and moving forward in a structured way. So, yes, it has been helping me, and I do expect it to help me for a long time to go.
Good, it sounds like that you have had a good experience so far, but I’m going to go a little bit more specific because, after the demo with Jason, different departments came in and helped you to get you started. So, you have worked with our Projects team and you have worked with our Training team, you might have worked with our Support team. So overall, if you want to elaborate, please do.
Well, this is a compliment for you Aditi, because you have been training me. And I think this is the right moment just to put that big compliment forward and, and honour you with it, because you have been training me, and as I said before, FileFinder is an application that can do so much, it’s unbelievable. And the way you stepped forward and guided me through that process, but also proactively told me, “Leon, don’t worry, we’ll sit together next month, and we’ll do it again, and we’ll take it one step further”. And that is like really appreciated because that is going above and beyond to help your customers. And SPRING SEARCH International is about that, and FileFinder about that as well. So, I hope that my collaboration with you guys, and with you specifically Aditi, will be for a long time because we speak the same language, I think.
I hope so too. You cannot build a house in one day, you have to build the foundation, and you have to slowly grow – otherwise, it’s going to fall apart. It’s all about building relationships, building the right foundation, and move forward with it.
Also, I think it’s about building trust and because you really have to feel that people are helpful to each other because they want to. And that makes you trustworthy, and I think being trustworthy is everything, and especially these days.
Absolutely, and it’s a two-way street. You trust me, I trust you and I understand what you need. We build on that. I’m listening to you, you’re listening to me. We absolutely can find the middle ground.
And we can have a laugh together!
Yes, and that’s one of my most enjoyable part of the day, when you and I work on FileFinder together, find the solutions you need. And that’s very good to hear. Now we are going to wrap up, but I would like to really know, where do you think the Search industry is going, moving forward post Covid-19?
There’s this tendency to work remotely and I don’t think that’s going to go away when the pandemic ends. So, remote working, maybe cross-border recruitment is going to be a thing because what you also see in a lot of companies, especially in the Life Sciences and Health industry, they have clusters of countries working together and above those clusters of countries, they have virtual management teams. So virtual management teams would mean that you would have a General Manager residing in France and a Marketing Manager residing in Germany for instance, or a Finance Manager Residing in Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
So, I think that there’s going to be much more digital, it’s going to be much more international, cross-border international like that. My company is called SPRING SEARCH International, that is for a reason. I think it’s going to be much more internationalized. But it’s a very exciting and an ever faster, moving future, and I’m looking forward to getting into it.
Absolutely. Well, I really appreciate your time this morning, and having this conversation with me. 2020 is almost over, so let us see what 2021 brings, and I’m looking forward to working with you for many years to come.
Fantastic. I would like to echo your thoughts, and I really would love to see us working together and with Ikiru People for a lot of years to come.
FileFinder Executive Search Software is a powerful, and yet easy-to-use, combination of database, project management, web research and CRM tools, designed specifically for executive search firms and in-house strategic recruitment teams. Available as a cost-effective Cloud, browser-based application or via a variety of alternative deployment models, hundreds of search firms and corporate clients in 70+ countries rely on FileFinder technology to better manage their executive search process.
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