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We interview our new partner - Philip Müller, Managing Partner, PRCC

PRCC Philip Müller Portrait SW resized
Posted: Jun 2021

Philip Müller is Managing Partner of PRCC Personalberatung, which specialises in communication and marketing. He founded the company with Thomas Lüdeke in 2010. Before that, he worked as a communications consultant and in journalism for many years.

PRCC stands for "Partners in Recruiting & Corporate Change". The boutique search firm based in Düsseldorf is active throughout Europe. Since 2010, it has successfully supported employers and employees during changes - through headhunting, interim placement, outplacement and career counselling.

What led you to become a Search Consultant?

Curiosity, coincidences, luck and impatience ;)

I actually always wanted to be a journalist - until I was able to gain experience as a freelancer in a communications agency. Then I preferred to become a PR consultant. That is what I did for a few years.

At some point, the agency became too narrow for me and I wanted to network more broadly. I met my now business partner Thomas Lüdeke through an industry association. At some point, the association became too narrow for both of us, and we set up our own networking formats. This quickly developed into partial self-employment and a little later into our entrepreneurship. PRCC was born.

In your opinion, what are the challenges when filling comms roles in the German market?

The German-speaking communications landscape is large and heterogeneous: corporations, medium-sized companies, agencies, associations and start-ups are located in attractive metropolises, average cities or somewhere in the flat countryside and are looking for progressive communicators or conservative agenda-cutters with very different focuses, from classic media relations to state-of-the-art engagement marketing.

In our experience, the key to successful recruitment is a sound understanding of what makes the company tick and who it really needs. This is not always congruent with what is written in the job description - and with what the company imagines to be the ideal candidate. But it's not called search consulting for no reason - we only start a targeted search when we have understood what we are supposed to be looking for.

What do you think are the main challenges that senior communications professionals face today?

Leaving one's comfort zone and embracing new things. Living flexibility is the key to sustainable professional success today, but it can be challenging: You have to constantly put your skills to the test and be prepared to keep learning. Not only do you have to endure constant change, you should see it as an opportunity and, in an ideal scenario, actively drive it.

It is very likely that at some point in people’s careers they will find themselves in a situation where they question their usual career beliefs, change their position in terms of content, make a lateral move in terms of salary, perhaps even accept a perceived step backwards.

Depending on the personality, situation and phase of life, demonstrating this flexibility is either harder or easier for communications professionals. Ultimately, however, it provides security - the security of always being relevant to the job market, also known as "flexicurity".

What motivated you to partner with The Works Search?

The Works and PRCC have a lot in common: both are headhunting boutiques with a focus on communication, both stand for high quality and commitment, both rely on modern methods. The partnership enables us to offer our clients even more effective cross-border services, including placement of candidates with an international background or filling positions outside the German-speaking world.

What was the best professional advice you have been given along the way?

I am a friend of crisp business and life wisdom. I particularly like a bon mot by the weightlifter Jerzy Gregorek: "Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life" - I think there's a lot of truth to it. I also like the motto of the writer Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: "Serenity is a graceful form of self-confidence.”

What is your most memorable work moment?

A few moments spring to mind: When we hired our first employee and when he resigned wistfully a few years later. The first time we received a back-payment notice from the tax office. The first time we won a big pitch against a competitor. When we moved into our current offices in Düsseldorf's old town on the Rhine almost five years ago. And, more recently: when we realised that during the Covid-19 crisis, our services were more in demand than ever.

What has been the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?

The decision to quit a secure job during the aftermath of the financial crisis was not an easy one for me in 2010.

Since the founding of our company, we have moved several times - and each time it has cost us an effort to move into offices that were actually a size too big (and therefore too expensive) for us at the time. In the end, however, each move has successfully motivated us to grow into the shoes that were initially too big for us.

The first weeks after the start of the Corona pandemic were also associated with fundamental questions for us: Does the market need recruitment consultancies at all now? Will we get enough orders in the future to keep all our staff? It became clear quite quickly that we would come through the crisis well - but the uncertainty in the meantime was unpleasant. Even now, I still have great respect for the macroeconomic repercussions the pandemic could have.

What or who inspires you, and why?

I am inspired by people who challenge the status quo, who try out new things - and who are successful for that very reason. This requires courage, attitude and often stamina. We have gathered such people in our "Modern Leaders Initiative". They all stand for a new style of leadership: unpretentious, vulnerable, collaborative, networked. They serve as role models and living proof that it is possible to make a career today even and especially if you question traditional recipes for success.

If you hadn’t ended up working as a business owner and search consultant, what would have been your plan B?

My plan B has always been (and secretly still is a bit) to become a successful author. But since I'm not making much progress with my novel due to work, children and laziness, it's probably more of a dream than a concrete plan.

If I hadn't become a search consultant, I would very likely still be a communications consultant today. Then in a more entrepreneurial role than before. Or I would be a successful crypto-privateer - but in order for that to work, I would have had to invest much earlier and more courageously.

Thank you, Philip.

The Works Search a search consultancy specialising in PR and corporate communications. We have unrivalled matching abilities and known for finding the top 5% performers in the industry - the ones who deliver and make your reputation great. For more advice or market insights, do get in touch with us on 0207 903 9291 or email sarah@the-works.co.uk

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