Julian Frankum, CEO, MEA and a Founder of RP International
Julian Frankum, CEO, MEA and a Founder of RP International, relays the anecdote of how they have become the most reliable partner for renowned regional corporations
Established in 1997, with core values of integrity, honesty and loyalty, RP International's initial goal was to address recruitment in the deregulating telecoms industry. Recognising the potential of rapid growth within Dubai, RP decided to expand its international footprint into the emirate in 2001.
Julian Frankum, CEO, MEA and a founder of RP, quickly realised that there were many parallels between RP and the evolving emirate, as its various industries were evolving when RP Dubai was in its start-up phase.
"It took a while to find our feet. Over 50 per cent of our revenue worldwide was supplying freelance experts to startup telecoms operators. However, in those days systems and legislation were in the process of being set up, therefore it was a clunky process for independent consultants to come to the region. There was a reliance on using resources, which were easily attainable and economic. Therefore, our challenge was to not only sell the concept of interim resource, but also educate the market on the value of sourcing international experts from around the world where new technological solutions and strategies were being used to great effect," says the dynamic CEO.
RP considers itself privileged being embraced by the UAE's client base. "We feel very proud to consider ourselves their agents of change, as they have evolved and their recruitment needs have likewise. As the UAE continues in its mammoth strides to create a global hub of industry and commerce, those of us who are committed to the region and empathetic to its changing needs will have a great future," Frankum explained.
Sourcing the crème de la crème of experts
RP has always been unique in its services, head hunting senior directors, contingent recruitment for middle to senior management, plus the supply of interim executives and subject matter experts.
Frankum says, "We have been working with a very talented psychometric profiler for 12 years who can assess new candidates and give me insightful comparisons to others we have employed. It is a complex, holistic process, but more often than not it boils down to whether you can work with someone. If you can, and they have the essential skills and experience you require, then you have a great foundation on which to groom and shape the employee to your needs and harness their qualities and strengths.
"In addition to executive search, we recruit freelance experts and interim senior management on our agency's visa and payroll. This is highly beneficial for many companies who enter the UAE market and initially do not have the access to sufficient visa and payroll solutions compliant with GCC requirements. This can also make a positive contribution to the Emiratisation process, as clients can now employ talented Emiratis from one profession and discipline to another, then bringing in interim experts who can shadow the emerging Emirati CEOs of the future. Therefore, our manpower labour leasing licence gives us a unique competitive edge by offering our clients agile and flexible recruitment strategies," he adds.
Tricks of the trade
According to Frankum, one of the main challenges for most businesses within the UAE is keeping up with the dramatic transformation of the region. "In response to social and economic dynamics, the UAE has become one of the fastest evolving places on the planet. The region's market is one of the most receptive, where new strategies and technologies are rapidly assimilated unencumbered by legacy platforms, systems and processes. RP has been successful by maintaining our brand identification, and ensuring that our recruitment specialisms remain focused on the right markets and the correct international communities of expertise. Recruitment companies often falter because they are either not committed to the region, or fail to realise that they need to invest time, energy and resources into their brand. Often agencies are distracted by new markets, and try and tap into them without having the requisite expertise, which is a recipe for disaster.
"You need to play your strengths; in our case our traditional clients, telecoms operators, can no longer make money from just voice and data. Skype and other mediums mean we can talk for free. Therefore, telecoms operators and their vendors and integrators have now been using their excellent expertise in Networks and IT to diverge into Digital Transformation and Enterprise. This has meant offering digital and IT transformation solutions and strategies to Banks, Healthcare, Government, Transport and Logistics, Defence and FMCG. As the telecoms market has progressed into these other sectors dependent on critical 'high availability' secure IT, my role at RP has been to steer our recruitment expertise and technology DNA likewise," he highlights.
Longstanding relationships with industry leaders
RP International's first major project defined their status as power players within the regional recruitment industry. "We played a significant role in the launch of du placing 375 critical hires and were retained to work on site to help develop the organisation charts and write job descriptions, as well as do the recruitment. This included significant placements such as their reputable CFO Mark Shuttleworth, who remained with the du family from 2006-2014. Similarly, we did large recruitment programmes for Etisalat as they embarked on setting up and acquiring new telecoms operators in other countries. As our organisation developed, we continued to win new clients around the region," explains the CEO.
As RP diversified into other areas of technology transformation, the company developed a substantial recruitment relationship with Emirates airline resulting in the placement of over 300 experts, over a span of six years.
"We are seen as the go-to recruitment organisation for the senior and specialist expertise, due to our ability to look worldwide and bring best-of-breed aviation technology experts to the region. Uniquely, Emirates strives to offer a bespoke range of products and services across travel, tourism and the opportunity to work with one of the world's leading and most successful brands, I took the decision to divert as much resource as possible to their needs," relays the CEO.
Catalysts for transformation
RP has continued to use its expertise and depth of regional knowledge to help other sectors go through digital transformation.
He explains, "Healthcare, FMCG, Banking, Government and Transport are all striving to adopt the new technologies and architectures like Blockchain, SAP Hybris, Big data, Artificial Intelligence and Cyber Security in order to create new, efficient and disruptive technology platforms. By incorporating these platforms they win increased market share, increase customer loyalty and upsell to the existing customer base. Our Aviation clients, for example, have traditionally looked within their industry for expertise. Now they acknowledge that other sectors like FMCG and supermarket industries can be superior in their disruptive use of IOT for customer acquisition, upselling to existing customers and customer retention, therefore we need to be recruiting from that sector now."
For Frankum, RP International's success is born from the longevity of their placements. "Our placements are sticky because we do our background research. We pick our fights wisely. We avoid entering any commercial relationships with clients that are untenable or unsustainable. We have a policy of being honest with our clients. Honesty can be a rare commodity in my industry but it is far better to tell a client if we are not suited to their needs or if we think for one reason or another a recruitment assignment would not be successful. Why risk failure and leave a bad taste thereby souring a relationship one has worked so hard for. We also pay great attention to the recruiters and researchers we employ. An organisation can have all the USPs, products; services and brand in the world, but all these factors are worthless without the right employees to augment them. Above all our clients in the Middle East acknowledge our loyalty and commitment to the region through the good times and indeed the not so good plus our unwavering faith and dedication to the values of our brand," says the sagacious CEO.