Jankovich Ilona - Interjú a Menedzsmentor TV-n
I think it’s not only me who is interested in the opinion of a person who spent significant part of her life outside of Hungary, and now her recruitment company plays leading role in the Hungarian market. Her responses can serve as a mirror for most of us to recognize our unique „Hungarian” business attitude, which easily can prevent us from success.
Today I talk with Ilona Jankovich. She is the managing director and founder of ProfiPower, the leading recruitment company in Hungary. It was founded in 2004 and after a rapid growth, it is the largest permanent recruitment firm in Hungary today.
Can you share the most important steps of your carrier success with us?
I started as a lawyer at the biggest law firm in the world. I worked for this multinational company as an employee for six years in a very professional, multi environment. After that I founded my own law firm in Holland operating for four years. Here I could experience what makes the difference between being an employee of a multinational company, where everything is organized and managing your own business.
In 1996, as the next step – and perhaps the most important one of my career -, I started a legal recruitment firm in Holland and managed it for 5 years. Our activity was quite new in the market but finally we became market leader. Then we left for Hungary with my family, my husband and three children. I had to think it over how to go on, as I was in a country with different culture, I didn’t speak Hungarian, and unfortunately I didn’t know anybody and I didn’t know the market. So I thought the best way was to start recruitment business which I knew well. In 2004 we started with 2 people, and now we have a specialized team of 35 people. I learned a lot, and so far it is beautiful.
How would you describe the key elements of sustainable success?
Long term view is important, never look only for short term visions. Long term strategy and goals are essential. You have to be innovative and sensible to develop new services and products. Be ready and open for change. Put together a great team of intelligent people, and manage them.
How do you manage your team to deliver maximum performance?
Give as much freedom as you can. Don’t give too much control, just as much as it is necessary. Give space, give respect if they do something well. Put in place good measurement and be straightforward to analyze the goals if you don’t achieve them. And also, do a lot of things together with your team which has nothing to do with the business. If you do so, you will have a personal relationship with your people.
As I see, your team has managed to survive the economic difficulties. What do you think the reason was?
We are successful again. We were able to keep the core team together. A motivated team which is able to realize what happened, and can handle well difficult situations. They have a professional know how. Your surrounding can behave strange in difficult situations, so we have developed our standards to keep our attitude towards our clients and candidates. Our objective is to deal with everybody the most positive way.
Can you mention a leadership trap that you fell in recently?
If somebody is a great performer it doesn’t mean that he will be a great manager. Coaching is inevitable, because professionals don’t have experience how to manage and reach their goals. A manager like me, has to keep close attention to younger people, to those who are fresh starters in managerial role, and coach them really well, otherwise you lose great performers, and probably good managers. Practice and failure teach them to become good manager.
It reminds me to a situation which happened to one of my clients. They promoted an excellent performer to a team leader position. Ultimately, this person failed in his new position. The lesson was very painful for my client, because they prepared a good professional for failure. And they made the trouble double: they created a hole in his original position. No manager, no good performer.
Whom do you ask for help or advice?
Naturally, I ask my team. They know the business, our business environment. Of course, it happens that I turn to external people, but I ask for advice mostly from my people.
What do you think, what distinguishes an excellent leader from a mediocre one?
An excellent leader is more than a manager. A manager manages the team, but an excellent leader has a goal, has the vision where to go. He’s got inspiration. He has his own style, which is very close to his personality. He has a positive attitude, and is supporting his team. He’s got good influence on vision. He is not afraid of being vulnerable.
What is your advice for future managers?
Be open as much as you can, and ask for feedback. Be open for feedback. It is common in Hungarians that they are very proud, and they feel quickly offended if they get negative feedback. Be balanced both in business and private life in order to give maximum to business.
What is your advice, how to develop further the Hungarian business life?
The most important thing is to develop openness and develop feedback. There are managers who think they are there, but they are never there. Lifelong learning is the key to success. There are so many extremely good and intelligent people around here, but their commercial attitude is missing. So I suggest to develop yourself, develop commercial attitude and develop feedback.
You have recently launched a new service called Talent Network.
We have candidates whom we didn’t offer anything. We thought we could provide advice to those, who are interested in how to develop their career. We have created a career site where they can get free advice and also an online career advice is available to help them find the best way to develop themselves. Workshops and training help the candidates to find the next steps for their carrier.
What is your first experience with Talent Network? Are people interested in?
Our first experience is, that people are reluctant yet. It is new and not logical here to invest in yourself for getting clear, proper carrier advice. In USA, Holland and UK candidates are willing to pay a bit to develop themselves; this attitude is missing in Hungary, yet. It is natural that they invest to go to cinema or to eat good meals, but they don’t invest to develop themselves. We provide free workshops and trainings at the universities about how to write CV, how to present in interviews, and we are amazed how many people need advice. Everybody can develop.
If you want to hear more how Ilona built her leadership career, just listen to the complete interview by clicking here.
Dr. Dobay Róbert