Recruiter focus: Edward Gallagher, Losberger De Boer Middle East

Marcus Taylor, managing director of construction recruitment agency, Taylor Sterling, talks to Edward Gallagher, MD of Losberger De Boer Middle East, about talent acquisition and retention

Edward Gallagher, MD of Losberger De Boer Middle East
Edward Gallagher, MD of Losberger De Boer Middle East

Tell us about Losberger De Boer Middle East’s business in the region.

Losberger De Boer has been operating in the Middle East for more than 14 years, and the firm is a combination of two companies, both of which were family-operated tent companies that transformed into major temporary event structure rental suppliers.

Over the past seven years, Losberger De Boer has complimented the supply of short-term use structures with the design and build of semi-permanent buildings, and this now accounts for 50% of our business in the Middle East.

Examples of our building solutions in Dubai include the Zero Gravity building at SkyDive Dubai. These temporary structures have the look, feel, and performance of permanent buildings and are built in only three weeks, compared to the usual permanent build times of closer to two years. Roughly half of our business is short- and long-term rentals, while the remaining half is clients purchasing for longer term uses, including schools, airports, office spaces, and exhibition halls.

How do you approach human resources (HR) and employment contracts in the UAE?

As a European company with a head office in Germany, and operating regional offices around the world, our approach to HR is largely the same across the entire group. In the Middle East, we issue contracts that abide by local legalities and employment laws, but include some terms that staff would normally receive in Europe. These are agreed in an appendix, and may include flights home and other staff benefits.

How is your training structured?

We are facing an aging workforce as an industry, so we arrange for all new recruits to ‘shadow’ the more mature and experienced staff members. This one-on-one mentoring approach to staff training ensures that knowledge transfer successfully occurs.

What staff retention initiatives does the firm employ?

Losberger De Boers’s remuneration packages are believed to be some of the best in our industry, with the added benefit of internal promotion opportunities and potential for Middle Eastern staff to be transferred to one of our 12 international offices, or back to our head office in Europe.

How long does it take to recruit staff through traditional advertising? 

It is very time-consuming to sift through all the CVs, shortlist candidates, and then interview them. Platforms like LinkedIn help, but I can see that using a recruitment agent can speed up this process and save time, meaning managers can concentrate more on their core business.

Do you have an induction process in place for new recruits?

Every new employee goes on site in their first week to fully appreciate the work that goes into erecting a new structure. We find that this approach really works well, and ensures that new employees – regardless of the department they work in – fully understand the entire operation.

How do you recruit new employees and manage peak project workloads?

We have 25 full-time staff in the Middle East and approximately 1,200 globally. Around half of our current staff was originally transferred from our overseas offices to the Middle East. This includes me, as I was transferred to Dubai with the company following the London 2012 Olympics project. The remaining half of our staff were recruited locally using LinkedIn or other local advertising methods. We sometimes also consider using recruitment agencies for vacancies that are hard to fill. We have also launched a dedicated careers web portal with videos and insights into a day in the life of a Losberger De Boer staff member, to attract interest and to build a larger talent pool.

Peaks in workload are met by flying in specialists from Europe temporarily. Our busy months in the Middle East are October to March, which is a colder, quieter period in Europe, so it is possible to draw on European expertise for short-term projects in the Gulf region.

Many of our staff really enjoy this type of variety and the international experience they receive. One week they might be erecting a temporary exhibition hall in Barcelona, and the next constructing the first buildings for a brand new city, such as Saudi Arabia’s Qiddiya project near Riyadh, which was launched earlier this year.

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