The trailblazer who helped the flight finder reach for the sky

How a language school’s jobs guide helped an international internet firm to realise that hiring foreigners is the best way forward

(photo: Stephen Wright)
March 4th, 2013 9:00 am| by admin
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This time last year, the flight finder search engine Momondo was just another regular Danish middle-sized company. But then it met Iuliana Orzan, a Romanian online marketing specialist, who has opened up its eyes to such an extent that it has just hired ten internationals at its HQ in Copenhagen. 

“We would have loved to hire a foreign online marketing manager before,” the company’s international marketing manager, Kasper Hove, revealed. “But we thought it was impossible to find such a qualified specialist here in Copenhagen.” 

Orzan was recommended to Momondo by Jobpakken, a job finders’ scheme run by the Copenhagen Language Center and funded by the City Council. It enabled the company to initially take her on as a trainee under a løntilskud arrangement, which meant the council would pay half of her salary for the first six to 12 months.

Orzan’s Romanian heritage paid immediate dividends. After just three months in the Romanian market, the company achieved better results than it had managed in two years in the French market.

“This was due only to the fact that we had a Romanian-speaking person in our team in Copenhagen,” said Hove. 

Armed with this resolve, Momondo, which has a presence in 25 foreign markets, decided to hire ten more international experts. They have been surprisingly easy to find. 

“Before we hired Iuliana, we thought that to find the right candidate, who also knows the foreign market and speaks foreign languages, you should go to London, because you could not find people like this here in Copenhagen,” said Hove. 

“We thought the recruitment process would take a lot of time and money. But we now know that there are many foreign candidates with very strong academic and professional backgrounds here in Copenhagen. We simply did not know how to find them.”

As well as using Jobpakken, the company also attends events aimed at internationals looking for work. Pia Vemmelund, the CEO of Momondo, recently attended one entitled ‘Skills and growth’ and, according to Hove, “was very impressed by how highly-skilled the candidates she met there were”.

Hove, who is a former Google consultant, contends that this is the way forward for small and middle-sized Danish companies interested in expanding abroad.

“While there is so much talent at online businesses in Denmark and a willingness to expand into new markets, the big problem is doing it and doing it in the right way,” he said. 

“When expanding into a new market, it’s not just about translating your webpage into the local language. This is the way to start, but if you want to grow, then you need somebody with a local presence. It is about having the full package: advertising correctly, using the right promotional channels, knowing the local publishers and running successfully social media. How can you do this, if you don’t have a person speaking the local language?”

Orzan is happy to have made a difference. Finding work at Momondo was the culmination of a long arduous journey that began 18 months ago with her sending numerous applications to mostly large companies – to no avail. 

“I eventually came to the conclusion that I was wasting my time,” she said. It was then that she went to the Copenhagen Language Center and spoke to its jobs guide, Casper Hernández Cordes. 

“He helped me realise two things. Firstly, I was applying to big companies that focus on the Danish market and who needed Danish specialists. I could not compete and my aim needed to be smaller companies who need foreigners. Secondly, I needed some kind of entrance to the companies: someone to network for me.” 

Cordes was happy to oblige with the second part of the equation, and he arranged an interview with Momondo and the rest is history.  

“Of course nobody can guarantee you a job. You need to take the initiative yourself,” said Orzan. “But the job coaching was the deciding factor. I might not have been able to get the interview without the help of the jobs guide.” 

 

The Copenhagen Language Center runs regular Career Evenings, for both its students and international seeking work in Denmark, where they can find out more about its job finders’ scheme, Jobpakken. The next evening is at Flæsketorvet 60 on April 24 at 17:00. Find out more at www.facebook.com/CareerEvenings and www.kbh-sprogcenter.dk/danish_and_work

 

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