Interview with Lorella Pedinotti, Managing Director of Westhouse Italia
Elisabetta de Luca
Westhouse is a leader in the field of human resources for professionals and managers in IT, Engineering and Commercial sector, with headquarter in Munich and with 5 branches in Italy as well. Thanks to the need of companies to cooperate with the foreign market, and thanks to the cooperation with universities, Westhouse attracts people from all over the world to move to Italy for work: we can say it is the contrary to the homeland of “brain drain”. Thus the recruitment company reduces the language barriers, and helps other companies to select the ideal candidate.
Lorella Pedinotti worked for many years abroad, starting her career in Westhouse Germany in 2003. Thanks to her entrepreneurial spirit, accompanied by strong commercial skills, she managed the opening of Italian legal entity in 2009. Today, as Managing director of Westhouse Italia Srl, she coordinates five offices in Italy with approximately 50 employees.
The labour market is changing rapidly and there is an enormous “turnover of competences” worldwide. According to the World Economic Forum in Davos, it is expected 7.1 million jobs are to be lost by 2020, mostly the administrative ones. On the other hand, an increase of up to 2 million jobs is foreseen, especially in the professions of technology, mathematics, and engineering. Employment in the digital industry in Italy is also in its growth phase: according to the Report Confcooperative-Censis 4.0, the future choice of those who already work, in the last five years the employees in the most qualified segment of ICT have risen by 52%, while requests for new professionals have increased by 30% each year. The most requested professional roles are: Email Marketing Manager, Sales Lead Generation, Chief Digital Officer, Cyber Security Manager, and Data Protection Officer. Even though the digital transformation has increased more than ever in the recent years, the truth is that this tendency already started a while ago. Since the early 2000s, technology has entered companies (and homes), radically transforming work (and routine). Westhouse, leader in the field of human resources for professionals and managers in the ICT, Engineering and Commercial sector, specialized in head hunting of profiles that are “hard to find”, knows this very well and was aware of the trends right from the beginning. It was founded in Munich, Germany, in 2002 by Markus Steinbeisser and Bernhard Plecher who, as happens in many cases of successful companies, opened the first office in a very small space (just 24 square meters). The founders acquired extensive experience in SAP, where they had developed a significant knowledge in IT field and above all it had given them the privilege to overview the needs of other companies.
Nowadays, Westhouse is continually expanding and has 13 subsidiaries worldwide. In Italy there are five locations: Milan, Bologna, Verona, Rome and Pesaro. In the last one mentioned, there is also the operative base of Westhouse Italy. And from there the Managing director of Westhouse Italia, Lorella Pedinotti, answered the questions of Persone&Conoscenze..
You have started your career in Westhouse Germany in 2003, which means you observed the creation and development of the company…
I arrived to Westhouse shortly after its foundation by two ERP experts, both working in large companies on a worldwide level, and those needed to ask British agencies for support in finding professional figures highly experienced in IT or at C-level. This is the reason, they were aware of the growing demand also in Europe and decided to develop such a business in Germany. Particularly, Westhouse has specialized in the search of freelance experts for certain needs, in Temporary Placement and staff leasing, i.e. in the selection of staff for a limited period of time, and head hunting to support all of the customer’s needs. Today, Westhouse is able to manage contracts of employment at 360 degree level, respecting the contractual needs of customers that are increasingly innovative and progressive.
When did Westhouse arrive to Italy?
We are present in Italy since 2009: I personally managed the opening of the Italian legal entity. As Managing director of Westhouse Italia, I coordinate five branches in our country, of a total of approximately 50 employees. Through the offices of Milan, Bologna, Rome, Verona and Pesaro, we are able to cover the needs on a national scale, and thanks to the foreign language knowledge of our consultants, we can meet the needs of our clients in a global range.
How important is the knowledge of foreign markets for Italian companies, both small and large ones?
With digitalisation, all companies, apart from their size, have the opportunity to operate abroad. That is the reason why we define our clients “clients without borders”. And the only border to overcome sometimes is the language barrier. For this reason, one of the most distinctive features of Westhouse is the presence of native speakers assigned to the particular market: for example we have Russian consultants for Russia, Finns for Finland, Chinese for China and so on.
Therefore, the people of Westhouse break the cliché that the Italians emigrate to work abroad. Does the opposite also happen?
Of course, in our company we host people from all over the world who have moved to Italy to work. This is facilitated by the proximity to the University of Urbino, which every year enrols a high amount of foreign students who then find good opportunities in our job market. In addition, we collaborate with foreign universities through the Erasmus Placement program: young people get paid by the University to work with us for a minimum of three months. The best ones become part of our team.
Who are your customers and what professional figures do they seek?
We work mainly with medium to large companies, at the forefront of innovation, those who have understood they must digitalize in order to succeed, adapt their products to the Internet of Things (IoT), revise their processes in optics 4.0 and above all, always stay up to date. We select people with special skills for them, to participate in research and development teams, either permanently or with temporary contracts. We select only the most appropriate experts and certified professional profiles. For each candidate in selection we send a summary of their skills. An example? A company needs a cyber security expert to verify that the security protocols are effective, Westhouse is able to find the right person according to the needs of the customer. The example fits perfectly as experts of cyber security are among the most wanted professionals, in addition to data protection officer and iOS and Android developers. Professionals such as web developers specialized in Java, and the SAP consultants are still very popular too.
How do you match freelance professionals who work independently with business needs?
A specialist in a specific field is assigned to each customer, and this allows him/her to really understand the needs of the customer. At this point we use our particularly big database and our network of contacts to select the ideal candidate. I emphasize the word select used instead of search, because, this is what distinguishes us from our competitors: thanks to our skills, in fact, we can find the right person and not a series of resumes online. In addition, we are certified to Forma.temp, the temporary worker’s training foundation, and together with other companies we trigger courses for the acquisition of specific skills in new technologies. This allows us to drive the business needs.
How do you increase the number of candidates?
We are particularly active on social media, we publish targeted advertisements and write on technology blogs. But above all, we participate in events dedicated to the IT world. On one hand, we have the opportunity to meet many experts there, and on the other hand people who decided to acquire new skills, which means they are proactive and eager to be in line with the needs of the market, those are the very important soft skills.
Speaking of skills, which do you look the most at?
Language skills, and not only English, are fundamental. Moreover, keeping oneself always up to date, participating in some international experience, paying closely attention to new technologies, attending online webinars, doing research also in the
free time, and taking part in technological events. Then it is also important to be flexible, willing to travel, proactive, and to have strong desires towards innovation.
Is improvement of competences also your internal requirement?
Working in IT field, especially nowadays, means you have to really keep improving yourself continuously. That is why we established the “Thursdays of New Technology”: weekly meetings attended by all our consultants, where the most experienced ones tell what the latest news in a particular field are. The aim is to spark curiosity, because we believe that the training of resources is our strong point. We care about the professional growth of our employees, that’s why we started a project to enhance the managerial skills of a small group of people, High Potential Path Program, to develop leadership skills, self-training, and other soft skills. We also organize corporate events in account of team building and to communicate the company’s values to our employees, i.e. speed and high quality, but also our strategy and corporate identity so that our employees become partners and advisers, rather than consultants to our clients.
Any tips for those who are looking for a new opportunity, also applicable to those who already have a job?
My advice is to invest in your own education and training, because in such a fast changing world, it is no longer the experience, but the vision towards the future in order to make a difference. This is why it is necessary to constantly adapt and improve our own competences.