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Eva Wuellner, Human Resources Director, Lindab-Astron, Luxembourg

Could you explain what kind of people seek employment here in Luxembourg?

Eva Wuellner
Eva Wuellner
HR Director
Lindab-Astron
People come from everywhere to Luxembourg with different educations and expectations and you, as a potential employer, are expected to fulfil those expectations.
Luxembourg is already quite an attractive market for candidates because it’s known everywhere, for reasons like its social security system and its social benefits, so people are really interested in getting employment in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.

How is the employment market now?

Within the Luxembourg employment market I would say that after one and a half years of tough conditions due to the global crisis, people are now looking around and are willing to take the risk to change their employer, because they find there are more opportunities on the market. There are many candidates on the market but the question for me is if the quality is good enough.

It depends on the profiles we talk about. There’s a shortage of people with good financial skills, for example. Within industry, I can say that I see a shortage in some of the job sectors. We have nearly 300 employees here in Luxembourg - half are office employees and the rest are working in production. At the moment I am looking for several positions that must be filled in production, like welders or CNC operators. I would say that where you need technically skilled people, it’s not always easy to find people with the right profiles.
At the same time, we’re also looking at financial profiles on the administration side and I have the problem that industry here does not have the reputation for paying as well as banks. We need to compete with the banking sector here in Luxembourg and it’s hard to convince people to start work with an industrial company.

How did your firm respond during the economic crisis across Europe?

We again started to recruit two or three months ago after one a half years of very tough times, where we had to reduce our staff everywhere, but fortunately to a lesser extent in Luxembourg. We have employees in 16 different countries across Europe, Russia and the CIS and we had to cutback people - mainly in central Europe because there the business for a time had dropped close to zero.

What has been the overall impact on your job from the recent events?

Our business is dependant on GDP growth so I see a positive from these hard times because we in HR really became more deeply involved in personnel issues. We asked ourselves had we the right people in place? We sat down together with the rest of the management team and talked about job profiles and talked about what should be our strategy on a corporate level, so this gave us the possibility to use the difficult time to come out of the crisis in better shape.
We also used the time, when we had less work, to train people in all kinds of fields so that they could be more flexible. For example, we had production workers who we trained on other machines and we had engineers who moved into a sales function. This was a strategy to do with job enrichment and this was a positive thing, because we had more enriched personnel, who were then better prepeared for the future challenges. So now that business is improving, we are prepared.
Now, we are starting to recruit in many countries, mainly in the sales function and this is the challenge, to get the right profile onboard every time.

What was the role of management consultants in looking at change within your firm?

As we are part of the Swedish Lindab group, our partners on the board of directors in the middle of last year decided that we should get outside advice from consultants in terms of strategy. They started to come on board in the autumn of last year and they presented an overall strategy in March.
We have management meetings, we have employee meetings and we talk about our strategies, this involves all departments across all subjects and we identified four key areas where we should focus in the future.

Overall, do you feel that the role of HR within the workplace is changing?

Back in 1992, the role of someone working in human resources was mainly as the adminstrative partner within a firm. Now, over the last two to three years and because of the crisis, HR has for me really played a strategic and important role within our company. Talking to others in HR, they also see how they have become part of the management team. They’re finding out how important the role of HR has become and will become in the future. I would say this is both a challenge and an opportunity for HR people to show and express their influence within their companies.

Where should candidates seeking a job start to look?

People starting their career or seeking lower level jobs should use internet searches. People at the middle level however should instead start their job search with established recruitment firms. For top level management position - and this is specific for Luxembourg - you need a good network, because you don’t get these positions through a normal recruitment search - only if you know the right people and the right people know you.

What advice would you give to candidates before an interview?

I always ask candidates what they know about our company, so it’s not good for a candidate sitting in front of you not to know anything. It’s extremely useful to show an interest, for example, by visiting the company website and finding out some facts about it before a meeting.