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The Resilient Recruiter

Jun 6, 2023

Imagine growing your revenue by €100,000,000 in less than 3 years!

How is this possible?

In this interview, my special guest Gerard Koolen explains how he and his business partners at Lugera were able to increase revenue from €130M in 2020 to €234M by 2022.

You’ll discover the critical success factors, which include: leveraging technology - and even developing their own software, constant improvement through training and development, and empowering employees to make decisions.

What’s even more remarkable is that Lugara’s office in Ukraine had their best performance ever in the midst of a war and they’re currently hiring 26 more recruiters. 

Gerard is the Group Managing Partner of Lugera, a multinational recruiting and staffing agency. Gerard started Lugera in Slovakia in 1996 and is now operating in 11 countries in 30 offices with 700 internal staff and 15,000 temps. In fact they’re the biggest independent staffing country in Central and Eastern Europe. In 2022, Herard partnered with James Caan to create Recruitment Entrepreneur CEE.


Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [02:30] Lugera has grown by €100,000,000 in the last three years.

  • [07:30] True resilience - how the Ukraine office has continued growing despite the war.

  • [18:57] Increasing revenue through training and coaching.

  • [25:45] The benefits and challenges of training and coaching remotely.

  • [27:36] Gerard shares how they adapt and leverage technology. 

  • [34:30] New Talent Base (NTB) - how their custom ATS builds networks automatically.

  • [40:51] How technology is a key factor in Lugera’s success.

  • [44:32] With 700 employees, Gerard must empower people to make decisions.

  • [46:49] Why Gerard opted to invest and build their own recruitment platform.

  • [54:23] NTB’s lead generation feature.

  • [58:48] Partnering with James Caan and Recruitment Entrepreneur.

True Resilience: How Lugera’s Ukraine Office Achieved Record Breaking Performance


The most remarkable part of the interview was when Gerard shared the story of his office in Ukraine and what they have achieved in spite of the invasion by Russia.

“This has to be for us a challenge to grow our business. We said to each other when the going gets tough, the tough get going, and let us see what we can do. A miracle happened, and last year was our best year so far in Ukraine. Can you imagine?” This is how Gerard described it: “The team even when there was a bombing in Kiev they were sitting in bomb shelters with internet and they are still working.”


It’s hard to imagine a more challenging scenario. How did Gerard ensure the well-being of his team members? He explains how they relocated their team to Bucharest. Gerard’s business partner in Ukraine did a tremendous job organizing the logistics, from booking hotels to hiring buses to ensure the safety of their team.


People lost their houses and there was a lot of panic and chaos, but luckily all their team members were safely relocated to Bucharest. They did not waste any time and immediately went to work. Their mindset and camaraderie were incredible. 


Due to the invasion, thousands of recruitment agencies in Ukraine closed down. At the same,  thousands of vacancies opened up, especially in factories. That is why Gerard’s team had to step up and support their market, despite a very challenging environment. They were able to achieve their best year so far and have continued growing. They’re even in the process of hiring 26 more recruiters in their Ukraine operations. Truly an inspiring story of resilient recruiters!


Increasing Revenue Through Coaching and Training

Since I last talked with Gerard three years ago, his firm has grown by acquisition, but also organically.


Gerard believes that growing rapidly is the most dangerous period for an agency. "Usually quality goes down, you have to pay a lot of salaries but you get your money later.” To manage this risk, they put emphasis on training and coaching their existing people. 


He elaborated on how they structured their coaching and training. Every country has an extensive 2-week onboarding program, plus ongoing training for the whole company including weekly webinars. 


We discussed the benefits and challenges of training people remotely, and agreed that in many ways it’s easier to train remotely versus in a classroom setting. Gerard suggested mixing up the groups so that people from different teams and countries have the opportunity to meet and learn from each other.


Enhancing the Recruitment Process by Leveraging Technology

Another key success factor for Lugera’s rapid growth is that they embrace and leverage technology. He shared how they are launching new software that focuses on recruitment automation and AI. Gerard knows the value of technology and how it has impacted their business drastically. This is why he is investing so much in developing tools and software that truly fit the needs of recruitment businesses. You will hear about their Automatic Network Builder embedded in their New Talent Base software.


Our Sponsors


This podcast is proudly sponsored by i-intro and Recruitment Entrepreneur.


i-intro® is an end-to-end retained recruitment platform. Their technology and methodology allow recruiters to differentiate themselves from the competition, win more retained business, bigger fees, and increase their billings. Their software combined with world-class training enables you to transition from transactional, contingency recruiter to consultative, retained recruiter. Instead of being perceived as a “me too” vendor, you’ll be positioned as a “me only” solutions provider. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Book your free, no-obligation consultation here:

Recruitment Entrepreneur is the world’s leading Private Equity firm specializing in the international recruitment industry. If you’ve dreamed of starting, scaling, and selling your recruitment business, this is your chance. James Caan and his team at Recruitment Entrepreneur are actively seeking ambitious recruiters in who they can invest. They provide everything you need to grow a successful recruitment business including funding, financial expertise, coaching and mentoring, operational strategy, back-office support, marketing, and talent attraction solutions. Be sure to mention Mark Whitby or The Resilient Recruiter. Start a conversation here:


Gerard Koolen Bio and Contact Info


Gerard is the owner of Lugera, a multinational recruiting and staffing agency. Gerard started Lugera in Slovakia in 1996 and is now operating in 11 countries from 30 offices with 700 internal staff and 15,000 temps. Lugera is focused on Permanent Staffing, Temporary Staffing, Payroll & Outsourcing. Gerard is crazy about helping as many people as possible get a better job. He is help driven, he thinks that innovation is key and is a front-runner in innovative HR technology.



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