HEADHUNTER WESTWIND: 12 YEARS OF TEAM SPIRIT, 12 YEARS OF SUCCESS
THE RECRUITMENT CONSULTANCY FIRM, WESTWIND REAL ESTATE EXECUTIVE SEARCH, SAILS FROM ONE RECORD YEAR TO THE NEXT. WHAT IS THEIR KEY TO SUCCESS? IN THIS INTERVIEW, FOUNDER AND SOLE SHAREHOLDER MICHAEL HARTER TAKES A LOOK BACK AND CHARTS THE COMPANY’S COURSE FOR THE FUTURE.
From real estate developer to recruitment consultant
Managing Partner Michael Harter looks back at twelve years of recruitment consulting for the real estate industry. In little more than a decade, he has built one of the industry’s most powerful consulting and research teams. After ten years as a project developer, Michael Harter, a banker, economic geographer/urban planner and real estate economist (ebs), switched to recruitment consulting for real estate professionals in 2007 and joined a boutique recruitment firm as a consultant. In order to more effectively serve the full range of clients for which he was responsible, he successively built up a team of ten recruitment professionals, which became Westwind Karriere in 2011. The company was originally founded as a joint venture between Harter (as majority shareholder) and one of the most renowned real estate recruitment consultancies in the Rhineland region. It was only when Harter acquired the remaining 49 percent stake in the company five years ago that Westwind set sail as a fully independent company with its own corporate branding. The company has charted a course from one success to another and regularly wins new mandates and fills positions in a few weeks that other companies have been unable to fill for months.
So, Mr Harter, how was 2018?
Another excellent year. For the fifth year in a row, we generated record revenues and, with 80 filled positions for property management executives and specialists, significantly exceeded 2017’s results. The current real estate boom and the persistently high demand for management and specialist professionals have prompted us to further expand our team of consultants and open a company branch in Hamburg, which has already been very successful. Westwind now has fifteen employees: five recruitment consultants, five researchers and four project assistants whose expertise reliably covers all segments, asset classes and regions of the German-speaking real estate industry.
How do you explain your company’s success story?
We are winning more and more mandates thanks to our methodical competence and our exceptional, in-depth market access, which allows us to identify and place specialists and executives where our established competitors have been unable to fulfil their clients’ research criteria. As the market for available candidates narrowed in 2018, we now need to approach and assess 200-300 civil engineers for some positions, where two years ago 100 were sufficient. Not every recruitment consultant makes this effort or is in a position to do so. That is why I am confident about Westwind’s future, even after the real estate boom has tailed off. With such a powerful team, we can remain sure of the future. This is precisely when we will continue to expand our market share while maintaining the same team size and increasing market penetration.
What makes a successful headhunter?
In our industry, the most successful recruitment consultants combine real estate expertise, interpersonal skills and communication proficiency with maximum commitment, a high degree of empathy and a dash of curiosity, directness and fearlessness.
What role do researchers play?
It is extremely important for recruitment consultants to be able to draw on the market penetration and creativity of their in-house research colleagues, who identify the ten most suitable candidates for a search from a hundred suitable and pre-selected managers and specialists. Of course, a consultant needs the right contacts, but even the most skilled consultant will run aground without a team of experienced, systematic researchers supporting them. Potential clients should always ask: How many researchers do you have in your team? And how many candidates do they approach for a placement?
What course have you charted for Westwind’s aims in 2019 and 2020?
We will continue to profit from the real estate boom and are optimally positioned for an increasing number of recruitment mandates. Our market share will continue to grow steadily. Even though we have only been sailing under our own flag for five years, our excellent track record allows us to clearly distinguish ourselves from many established recruitment consultancies on the market. However: we cannot afford to disappoint any of our business clients. We only do real estate – and the real estate industry is only so big. We don’t have a second industry we can turn to. That’s why we have to perform at our very best every time.
About Westwind Real Estate Executive Search GmbH
For the last twelve years, the Westwind Karriere team has been successfully filling challenging executive and specialist positions in the German-speaking real estate market (Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg). Westwind is a highly effective and reliable boutique recruitment consultancy that uses customised recruitment strategies to respond to different company requirements in order to find exactly the personality that best fits the search profile. Westwind’s clients include project developers, construction companies, institutional investors, family offices, banks, asset managers, property managers, CREM divisions and other companies active in the asset classes office, retail, residential, hotel, healthcare and logistics.