MODA+TECNICA is a recruitment agency specializing in the fashion, retail, luxury and branded consumer goods industries. It was established in Milan in 2009, with all its recruitment consultants coming from the industries the company serves. The company, whose name means Fashion Expert, has expanded its network to North America, Latin America, Europe and other parts of Asia besides Japan.
Overseeing operations in Japan since 2010 is founder and Representative Director Juan Rabanal. Born in Paraguay, Rabanal was raised in many countries and is proficient in Spanish, Japanese and English.
Japan Today editor Chris Betros catches up with Rabanal to hear more.
How did you end up in Japan?
My family first came here on a holiday when I was a kid and I was fascinated. After that, any excuse I had to come here, I took. I started working at the Paraguayan embassy in London. After finishing my studies, I joined Harrod’s and then I got into the retail industry. In 2006, I was working for Ralph Lauren and I came to Tokyo as one of the staff to support the opening of the flagship store in Omotesando. I had a career change and moved to the recruitment sector. That was before the Lehman Shock. After that, I went back to school and took a business program.
I started this company in 2009, opening first in Milan. Because many of our clients were here, we decided to open a Tokyo office in early 2010.
How has 2014 been so far?
It’s been challenging because it is a mature market. However, our projection is good for the year. Japan is one of the biggest markets in the world in the luxury sector recruitment field, so we are in a good place and there is always a place for our services.
What services do you provide?
We are a niche recruitment company that focuses solely on the luxury retail and consumer goods sectors. We have exclusivity with some of our clients for whom our main focus is senior level management. Besides that, we provide other services such as market entry support for existing clients – mainly Italian brands based in Milan.
What are your strengths?
You need to have a network and the fact that we come from the fashion industry makes a big difference. Our staff all come from the retail or fashion sector and that’s one of the reasons clients rely on us. We look abroad as well for good candidates.
What challenges do you face?
In our sector, it is a little more challenging because there are a lot more protocols. Sometimes a candidate might have to go through up to 10 interviews over many months.
Where do you find candidates?
The best place for us to find good candidates is through our network. To have a network, you need to be out there and to have come from the industry. Good people tend to be happy where they are and you need to build a good relationship with them to understand who they are and where they want to go and then help them get there.
How about social media, such as LinkedIn?
We don’t rely on LinkedIn. It is a tool to identify where people are but not to contact them. Face to face contact is still the best and most important method of recruiting.
How is the image of the recruitment industry in general?
In the past, there have been some unscrupulous players and the image of the industry has been very low compared to other markets. In our case, we are brand-driven, not sales-driven, and deal with big-name companies still owned by families, so we are well known and respected.
How many recruiters in your team?
We have a team of six members in Tokyo. What is important is that they all come from the retail sector so they can understand the sensitivity of the brands. You need to love what you do to be successful. My passion is still recruitment and I like to stay involved on the client side.
What is a typical day for you?
I come here at around 8:30 a.m. The day can get especially busy from 4 p.m. when Europe opens and we speak to the big decision makers. Sometimes, a day can finish quite late. I sometimes work on weekends, too.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
I am studying to become a private pilot in Paraguay. I go several times a year and I am going to take the radio course here in Japan. I’ll be flying Cessnas.© Japan Today