Interview ISG Denmark

Michael Bruhn
Country Manager
michael.bruhn@isg.com, +45 20966510

23 years of experience in HR business characterize Michael Bruhn, Country Manager of ISG Denmark.

How Mr. Bruhn accidentally came into contact with the ISG and why credibility and decency is everything in this business, you will read in this interview.

Mr. Bruhn, how did your career begin?

In 1980 I started my career in the IT Business in Denmark – before PC, internet, email and all these technological progresses accelerated. For 15 years I was working in different positions for the biggest Danish IT Company. I have never been the strongest technician, but I was working in the fields of Planning, Education, Project Management and Marketing. Later on, this company was taken over by a big American company and, at this time, I held the position as a Partner Relation Manager.

When I approached 40 years old, I wanted to alter my professional life and many friends suggested to change to the recruitment business. In 1997 I started working for a small HR company and one year later I co-founded an own HR company, called Recruiters.

Thus, my experiences in the HR business date back 23 years. Related to my previous position, I was specializing in the IT business in the beginning, but besides Recruiters solved a lot of other HR recruitment tasks within all the classical business areas.

When did you join the ISG?

In autumn 2016, I attended a meeting in Vienna, which was hosted by the ISG, by coincidence. I got to talk to the managing director, Guido Leissinger, and he asked me if I would be interested into expanding and heading the ISG in the Northern countries. We made an agreement about that, and I was happy to be a part of the big ISG family. Starting in January 2017, I transferred my own company Recruiters into ISG Denmark.

How was the transition from Recruiters to ISG Denmark?

From my old business I had very good reputation, especially in the IT sector. The transition itself took some time, since the ISG was not yet well known in the Northern area. In the beginning people confused ISG with for instance ISS, which is a huge Danish Facility Service company, and we’ve learned, that with our limited resources, it takes a while to establish a new brand into an existing market.

What is the current situation at the ISG Denmark like?

In autumn 2017 I expanded my business and started to hire partners. Now we are 7 partners, of which 6 are situated in Copenhagen and one in Aalborg in the Northwestern part of Denmark.

We are covering a wide range of sectors: IT, Sales, Finance, Production, Engineering, HR etc. The HR market in Denmark is very competitive, as there are about 800-1000 registered HR companies. In relation to the inhabitants of Denmark, about 6 million, that’s a lot!

How did you choose your partners?

I was looking for partners with a solid business background from Finance, IT, Sales, Production, HR etc. – and preferably combined with experience from the recruitment sector. And I am happy to say, that we have a fine group of partners, that brings a lot of experience from different sectors.

How many offices do you have and which services do you provide?

We have two offices in Copenhagen and one outside of Copenhagen, in Virum. And as we are working together with Regus Offices, we can offer meetings in various locations all across Denmark and the rest of Europe.

Our core services are Recruitment, Executive Search, Test/Assessment and Outplacement. One of our partners is also offering teambuilding workshops and seminars.

In order to widen our offers and our services, we are currently looking into starting a cooperation with companies within temporary and interim workers.

How do you make a mark in the very competitive market?

We always work with an exclusivity clause, which means that we are the only HR company working on a given case. We concentrate on the costumers needs and fulfill the task to customers satisfaction. Even though this might take weeks, we take time for background checks and work very seriously and accurate. We, as ISG Denmark, are known as a company providing and delivering very good services and this is shown to us by the feedback of our clients. 

What is your USP?

Credibility and decency in everything we do is very important for us – and that goes both towards our customers and our candidates. We give a guarantee, that all our tasks are successfully fulfilled. We never give up a case.

Furthermore, we wish to be known as a local and global recruiting company, which has the benefits of being local here in Copenhagen and in the North, and at the same time global around the world.

Let’s talk about the labor market in Denmark. The New York Times stated that Denmark has a very low unemployment rate and a good work-life-balance. The main challenge on the market is to hire qualified employees, isn’t it?

There is very low unemployment, especially for well educated people. The Danish way of hiring is very flexible, you can hire and fire people very easily in Denmark. There is only one month of notice period, the same goes for the beginning of employment.

It is very easy for the company to get rid of employees – therefore there is a high flexibility compared to other countries, such as Germany or Sweden.

That is the reason why the market for temporary workers is not as predominant in Denmark as it is in other countries.

So yes, for a long period we have seen a market, where we need to make a lot of research for relevant candidates, rather than waiting for candidates to apply for the advertised positions.

Do you have any suggestions on how to improve the labor market?

I think the dynamic in the market is very positive. Both the employers, as well as the employees, benefit from this flexibility. As this is a very independent system, employees have the possibility to negotiate their salary in a much better way. And within EU it is fairly easy to bring in people from the other European countries – this gives ISG an advantage, as we have offices in almost every EU-countries.

For us as a HR company, this dynamic is very good.

What are your goals?

We want everybody to know who the ISG is and to tighten our reputation.

One sector we would like to establish in is the Healthcare – or Healthworld as we call it in the ISG. There are many headquarters of this sector in Denmark, but as it is a very reference-based market, it is very hard to move on into this area. But I am sure we will manage it.

Do you have a special philosophy?

It is very simple. We consider ourselves as old school in terms of always keeping our agreements – that is our philosophy. We want to be known as people who represent the company in a very serious way and who always have a good communication with the companies, as well as the applicants. Even though only one applicant gets the job, all the other applicants have to be taken seriously as well – that is very important for us.

What is the key to success?

To understand the costumers needs, deliver the right profiles and fulfill the tasks.

What do you like most about your job?

I love new projects and I love to complete projects. The 1-3 months length and the possibility to finish project within short time is a nice characteristic for our business.

And of course, I am very happy to be a part of the ISG family.