Interview of Pierre Strübin – Chairman of Thalent.com

Interview of Pierre Strübin – Chairman of Thalent

1. Pierre, you are a multi-entrepreneur and President of the Foundation Board of the Fondation Genevoise pour l’Innovation Technologique – Fongit which is Switzerland’s premier innovation incubator supporting innovative tech ventures in Geneva.​ Can you tell us a bit more about your career path?

I am married, with 4 children. I hold an engineering degree from the EPFL, have additional training in finance and also hold an MBA.

I worked in industrial companies such as Sécheron-ABB, LEME and an international organisation. Then I was appointed director of Fongit and created the company Thalent.com in 2001. Thalent is therefore 20 years old in 2021.

The company was created to respond to the demand of experienced consultants who had mandates but no company capable of managing the administrative part of the work, like client offers, client invoicing, payment of salaries and social charges.

2. Is payrolling aimed at senior executives?

We have to admit that most of our consultants are experienced people with the ability to execute mandates and who are considered by clients as experts.

It is true that they are often seniors, but we also have very competent people in their thirties.

3. Payrolling is a subject that is being talked about a lot at the moment. Can you tell us a little more about it in relation to the services of your company Thalent SA?

The consultant can concentrate on his job, which is to deliver high added value services. Thalent takes care of the administrative and invoicing part and makes sure that the consultant can work in an environment that complies with the legal framework concerning employment.

4. Your company also aims to help firms abroad looking to expand into Switzerland, how is this happening?

We would be more than happy to do so.  Often companies want to have a bridgehead in Switzerland or in Europe. Switzerland is a privileged place, especially Geneva and our company is located a few minutes from the Geneva airport. This makes it very easy to get to.

Often we employ a person, domiciled in Switzerland, who, through our company, works within a legally compliant framework and we invoice the foreign company for the services provided by this person, settling of course all the issues related to VAT if applicable.

After the first phase the company can then decide whether it wants to establish a subsidiary in Switzerland and in this case we can assist it in establishing a Société Anonyme SA or a Société à Responsabilité Limitée SARL thanks to the excellent connections we have with notaries or lawyers.

5. You have a company in neighbouring France, what is its function?

We do have a company that is completely independent of the Thalent structure in Geneva.

It is an SAS, a simplified joint stock company, with which we work closely and which allows us to carry out operations in the European community in the event that having a company in Switzerland is not optimal.

We use our French company when, for reasons mainly related to VAT, it is easier to work with a company established in France and another country of the European Community.

6. So you can work with companies all over Europe but also all over the world?

Yes, we can do this directly from Thalent SA, for customers located in Europe and outside Europe such as the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. We work with the following 4 currencies: EUR, USD, GBP, CHF.

7. What do you think of the current situation of the Swiss labour market?

At the moment, we can see that for specialists, the current situation on the labour market is very favourable. As consultants are often very competent people, they have no difficulty in finding mandates.

This has been the case for several years now and perhaps the health crisis has made it even more so. The more specialised people are, the more in demand they are, and the more generalist skills people have, the more difficult it is for them to find work.

8. How does Thalent differ from other umbrella companies for the consultant?

We are one of the first companies active in this field in Switzerland with an experience of over 20 years. Our company is characterised by long-term relationships with consultants, as some of them have been working with Thalent for more than 15 years.

For these people, we have the advantage of being able to offer permanent contracts and not leasing contracts. The consultants can therefore present themselves to their clients as part of a team and a company with an excellent reputation.

9. Are there any values that you hold dear?

Of course there are. I would say the seriousness of our work, an extreme flexibility accompanied by a very high reactivity, a lot of care given to the service we provide and the personal contact with the consultants. There is a great deal of mutual trust between the company and the consultants.

10. What type of profiles does Thalent have among its ranks?

We have a technical focus, engineers or technicians, but we also have consultants active in business development, project management, human resources, translation, coaching, IT.  

11. You are an engineer, is there anything that an engineer will find in addition at Thalent because of that?

Very clearly a general understanding of the client and the fact that we can speak the same language with the client.

12. Entrepreneurship can be facilitated by an umbrella company. Can you explain this a little more?

The entrepreneur does not need to register as a freelancer, does not need to deal with all the administrative tasks and can concentrate on his core business. We also provide the necessary advice on drawing up offers and contracts with clients.

13. Can you give us 5 advantages of beeing a payrolling consultant?

  • Administrative simplification
  • Entitlement to unemployment benefits
  • Possibility of distribute the income as a salary over a long period
  • Quick start: no administrative procedures
  • Recognition by the market, which tends to give mandates to established companies rather than to self-employed people

14. Is there any advice you would give to a young entrepreneur?

The first advice I would give is to join us. This will give her or him the support they need to launch their business. It is up to him to decide whether he wants to register as a freelancer or create his own company. What is interesting to mention is that in the last ten years, none of our consultants have preferred to start their own company.

In some cases consultants have even set up their own company within Thalent, i.e. we have had several consultants working for the same client on the same project.

15. Do you have a success story that you have witnessed to share?

In addition to your previous question. One of our consultants who had achieved a significant turnover decided to set up her own company. After a few years she decided to put it on hold and to join Thalent again because she had noticed that the results were inferior both in terms of economics and management.

Interview by KF

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