Professional and managerial recruiter Antal International recently marked its 20th anniversary, celebrating a journey from one man, one telephone and an office in a bedroom to an international network of 118 offices in 35 countries around the globe.
“When I set up Antal in 1993 to focus on recruitment in the old Soviet bloc, most people thought I was either mad or plain stupid,” says the company’s founder and CEO, Tony Goodwin. “Back then, serious recruitment consultancy was mostly limited to the Middle East, Western Europe and the Caribbean or to ‘migration’ work, sending people to Australia or New Zealand. The idea of applying it to countries that had only recently emerged from behind the ‘iron curtain’ was largely dismissed as impractical or pointless.”
Since its first foray into Hungary in 1993 (where it picked up its name – the Hungarian word for Tony) the franchise has helped to open up some of the most challenging markets in the emerging world such as Russia, India and China.
“We’ve achieved what we have through a mix of high expectations and a sensitivity to local conditions, and by taking a completely open minded approach to each new market,” says Goodwin. “In India, for example, this has meant extensive use of our franchise model with 33 offices now under our belt. And in China it’s meant harnessing the enthusiasm and commitment of a new generation of Chinese professionals to help us build two very successful operations in Shanghai and Beijing.
“The world has changed dramatically since 1993 – a time before the notion of the BRICS countries, before global markets, before the communications revolution generated by the internet. But the principles of effective specialist recruitment still remain the same. Professionalism, co-operation, an interest in and an understanding of what makes people tick and a complete commitment to service are still the keys to success.”