The world of recruitment has changed considerably in the last few years.
Panda International’s recruitment journey began nearly ten years ago, but how much has recruitment changed since then, and how is Panda adapting?
We spoke to Managing Director at Panda International, Frederik Mees ten Oever, about what makes Panda different and how it can be the ideal job for those with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Here’s what he had to say.
What has your experience been like working at Panda so far?
Responsible for the day-to-day business of Panda and working closely with Founders Jay and Daisy, Frederik has a varied role as the Managing Director, having joined Panda 8 months ago.
One of the main differences when it comes to the way Panda does things, Frederik notes, is the cultural perspective within the recruitment market.
“I always say to people joining, we’re at this level as a company where we’ve got this really nice foundation for seniority, culture, a network, and reputation in the market and with clients that we’re now able to build up.”
It’s not just the fact that Panda is doing the right things in the market, but also that it’s a great group of people with a similar drive and mindset.
“We’ve got some big plans for the next 5 years, and that’s why I’m here.”
Can you tell us about your background before you joined Panda?
Frederik is no stranger to recruitment.
His previous job role was recruitment in the financial sector for 8 and a half years in the Netherlands, starting as a consultant and making his way up to Director for the contract division.
Part of Frederik’s role as the commercial director for a large part of Europe was to make sure that everyone was working as one, rather than as individual islands.
What is your team like?
Overseeing the day-to-day of Panda means that Frederik frequently interacts with Panda employees across the business, from the 3 sales teams – delivery, contract, perm – and the managers of these teams.
Part of what Frederik enjoys about the role is the hands-on nature.
“On a daily basis I’m also involved with the individual consultant where they may need help.”
There is also a great deal of variety, given that Frederik also works closely with marketing or even talent acquisition depending on the day – “I work almost with everyone, to be honest!”.
When you’re looking to attract talent into the business, what are the main things you’re looking for?
For Frederik, the best indicators of a strong fit when attracting talent are an entrepreneurial mindset and compatibility with the culture at Panda.
“Individuals that fit the culture, that’s one important thing. If it’s not someone we can see us having a drink with, or I don’t see them sitting in front of our clients, for example, then it will be difficult.”
Having a mindset of improvement, Frederik says, is also important for people looking to join Panda, as it’s the best way to benefit as much as possible from the opportunities in the business.
“What you’ve got to do is be an entrepreneur within an entrepreneurial business. It’s up to you to build up your own market and build up your own network so you’re able to offer the services that we can offer and make sure that you get the most out of it.”
Initiative and a drive to succeed are at the heart of what Panda does.
How would you summarise the culture at Panda?
“Open, honest, more of a family vibe.”
There are a lot of Panda employees who have been working in the business for a few years, which creates a close-knit dynamic in the company.
There’s also the diversity of the business that is a huge contributor to its culture:
“We’ve got 11 nationalities working for Panda out of 40 people. This says a lot about what kind of company Panda is.”
What are the development and career opportunities at Panda?
Put simply by Frederik – “If you’re doing well and you want it, you’ll be able to achieve it.”
What makes Panda such a great development opportunity for anyone looking to start their career in recruitment is the potential for growth, as you can start as a consultant and work up to being a manager or director.
Additionally, there is a strong network of support from both Frederik and Founders Daisy and Jay, alongside external sources of support for both training and coaching.
Panda employees can benefit from speaking to a coach for 2 hours a week to focus on their development, including the areas where someone needs attention or help.
How do you feel the recruitment sector has changed during your career?
To summarise, it’s changed a lot, Frederik says.
The demand for flexibility has considerably increased, and as a result, recruitment has changed from its more traditional roots.
“I used to come from a business with strict times. You needed to be in the office 5 days a week, at least be there for 10 or 11 hours. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hard work, but I’m not sure that was always the smartest way of doing it.”
Panda as a business is constantly adapting to provide flexibility for its employees, including a 4-day work week and remote working opportunities.
These changes have been successful in terms of the freedom that employees now have and how it can help productivity – employees are responsible for their own work, and if they are on top of their workload, then working for four days and taking a day off is a great benefit to have.
What other benefits do you think your employees value?
Balance is central to the benefits that Panda offers, from incentive trips twice a year to gym memberships and flexihours.
“It can sometimes be hard work. I’ve been in this business for a while, and it’s a great job to do once you have your own market, key accounts and networks, and become that consultant that can advise clients on what they need.”
Work/life balance is essential for Panda employees, and there is a range of benefits to suit this demand.
What would you say your personal drivers are to be successful?
Creating an environment in which everyone can feel comfortable in what they’re doing to make sure they can reach their goals is something that Frederik is very passionate about.
When it comes to his own personal drivers to be successful, it’s more about a passion for what recruitment can offer.
“For me, I still have a passion for this industry and the jobs we offer. I’m a strong believer, particularly on the client side, that we’re able to give every client what they need and deserve. That for me is a big passion.”
What’s on the horizon for Panda in the next few years?
Part of Panda’s recent growth is due to its geographical expansion to locations such as Germany and Belgium, which will be key areas of focus moving forwards.
There’s also a strong focus on consistency as Panda looks to bring their strong reputation to these locations and continue to build it further.
What would you say to someone that’s thinking about joining Panda?
Primarily, Frederik views Panda as the ideal environment for those with an entrepreneurial mindset and a high drive – it’s a great career start as the things you can learn at Panda will be skills that you’ll profit from for the rest of your career.
“If you’re able to interact with people on a certain level and you know how to do these things, you can use this in every sector – that’s something you’re doing on a day-to-day basis and it’s one of the most valuable skills for the rest of your career that you’re able to learn.”
Do you want to be a part of the Panda International team? Take a look at our vacancies and start your bespoke career path today.