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Sowelo Consulting’s CEO on How to Survive in the Recruitment Business during a Down-turn

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Adam Łyko Sowelo Consulting

Adam Łyko of Sowelo Consulting tells us how they help their clients grow their businesses.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Adam Łyko: Thank you, we are doing fine. We experienced a hard lock-down for a couple of months, it was a bit challenging, but we are all fine. 2020 gave us a lot of learning opportunities. Not being able to go out to a restaurant or travel has forced us to re-discover simpler pleasures; for example, cooking. 

Unfortunately, the situation in Poland is not acceptable nowadays. The number of businesses that are in trouble and the help which is offered by the government in many cases was not enough to save jobs and companies. The overall climate is unfavorable. There have been a number of entrepreneurs who have decided to open their business despite the lock-down regulations this week (hotels, restaurants, gym clubs), which means there is almost an open war between the government and local entrepreneurs. 

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Sowelo Consulting.

Adam Łyko: I’ve been in the recruitment business since 2006. I began my career working in the industry for some large RPO brands like AMS and Kenexa. After a few years of working for corporates, I decided to go my way and focus more on Executive Search by using the newest online tools and old school phone sourcing techniques. I am a self-made entrepreneur where I started with a desktop PC in the living room around 12 years ago. The first 2 years were difficult, but then things started to click. We opened our first office, then we built a team and a scalable delivery platform that allows us to provide services to clients across the EMEA region.

How does Sowelo Consulting innovate? 

Adam Łyko: We try and think of ways to innovate all the time. Innovation was always helping us to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, we had moved into a 100% remote mode before Covid happened. I really appreciate the flexibility and work-life balance, and wanted my whole team to work in the same set-up. Instead of spending money on expensive offices, we can now invest more in training and self-development opportunities. We are also testing video messaging, video job ads, new marketing channels, and other alternative ways of building quality relations with clients and candidates. The Covid crisis has sped up the adoption of some new technologies and tools when it comes to talent attraction.

How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?

Adam Łyko: During the crisis things like cost reductions, lay-offs and redundancies were the main subjects of conversation in HR departments. Definitely not the best time for recruitment businesses. Despite this, last year was quite good. We’ve noticed a small slowdown in Q4-2020 and a drop-down in revenues vs. previous quarters, but the whole year was stable. Some clients had put on hold any plans to grow and their recruitment activities, other clients which are in the technology sector, more specifically in the e-commerce or digital marketing area, had just hit their record year. We managed to win some deals in these industries, which helped us to survive but the recession wasn’t beneficial for all IT employees. Those representing the junior level could see reduced demand for their services and growing competition among peers. We have observed the same trend among team leaders, IT managers, and system analysts. The number of openings issued by finance, banking, and consulting industries decreased, too. Compared to our competitors operating in other sectors; for example, manufacturing, tourism, or HoReCa which were massively impacted by the pandemic, Sowelo Consulting has had to suffer relatively little damages.

Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources and what are the lessons learned?

Adam Łyko: A crisis situation is not easy for anyone. People react differently. Fortunately, I wasn’t forced to reduce the number of people due to the Corona crisis. We have learned that we have strong personalities within the team, who do not panic, but work even harder when the situation is challenging. I feel I am very fortunate to have such a great team of people.

How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient? 

Adam Łyko: Before Covid, I used to go for client meetings on a frequent basis, but right now we are relying 100% on video calls. (Google Meets, MS Teams, Zoom). 

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