Gaps you’ve spotted in the way leadership hiring was conducted and how you wanted to bridge them?
Technology is incessant in nature, it’s constantly evolving and along with it evolves the entire tech ecosystem which means the company, and the people associated with it including the tech leaders and hiring evolve. We are all aware of the important piece that Silicon Valley is. If you were to look at Technology hiring in Silicon Valley, it’s very interesting because people are absolutely transparent in nature when they are discussing the role and the person also has complete information about the company. You can actually figure out everything that you need to know, so there is zero ambiguity. People are able to shake hands and say let’s work together. Now let’s zoom back to India – the Indian startup ecosystem started in 2008 and you were to see Technology leadership hiring happened in 2013 and 2014 when there was a mad rush of funds that was infused into India which made technology leadership hiring learning.
We also learned during that process actually how to go about hiring a technology leader. Two things came out of looking at these two sides of the spectrum; one was for obvious reasons – our USP, which is to ensure that there is complete clarity when a person needs to pick up a specific role. How do we do it for both sides of the audience? One is candidates henceforth referred to as Prospects and number two are the companies that are Client Partners. There has to be complete clarity between these two parties, think of it as two people getting married into one Vision. This is almost like a marriage of sorts. The second USP that we have is to be absolutely happy about what we do also in terms of how we have managed to keep this going as a Process; we focus on the three P’s – Product, People and Process, throughout the journey. With several years into what we’re doing, we managed to keep the absolute process similar right for stealth mode to maybe an IPO-based company. So these two things actually fuel what are you doing today and going back to what you asked me if the gaps were – of course in terms of how there was absolute ambiguity; so we covered for that second piece that hiring continuously changes how we learn as we are even today we learn in terms of how do we managed to get a C Level Leader. We are talking about new text ads so this whole piece is not as simple as it looks from the outside so I wouldn’t say we fixed all the gaps, it’s a process, and we continue to fix the gaps.
Initial experiences in the sector – How did you manage to find your footing in a field with so many potential landmines?
The opportunity was for us to figure out how to do this hiring, so interestingly what we did is, we didn’t go after signing up for roles. We spent close to 6 months meeting people, meeting these Technologists; we were prepared for the opportunity statement for them to say that “I don’t think people know how to hire”, including ourselves including a lot of other search firms when it comes to leadership level in India. If you were to look at it, most of the leaders I approached in a manner “Hey, this is Roopa here, I want to meet you for a coffee without a role in question but you know let’s chat about this”, they end up wondering and were clueless about existence and about me and what did I want meeting them.
An opportunity statement was presented, most of these Technologists were super happy to look at solving this along with us so we didn’t do anything different. We didn’t reinvent the wheel or come up with parameters; even today we say that we have these brilliant parameters that are working for us. Initially, we started with the 10 parameters that most searched firms use. When we went out in the market these parameters helped us look at a different way of hiring as well so I would say they constituted for us to put in a “Behavioral Metrics Model” which has about 83+ parameters, also coins the pace of Technology agility along with behavioural traits and that kind of help us look at it from a very different perspective. It does not just mean that these parameters help us determine whether you are a good technologist or not a good technology leader. It just helps us understand what it is that you really want to do in life, what is your real passion, what kind of impact you want to create or maybe want to create wealth or maybe you just want to be a poster boy for a specific company. We get into the nitty gritty’s of it by understanding these various concepts of people. It is definitely high risk because when you meet somebody in 2018 versus you meet them today, they have already evolved and on the other side, when we looked at the client partners, interestingly this happens with most companies well as you are scaling, the need for technology leadership continuously changes. We try to bring everything on one page to calibrate and say this is what we are looking for. It is definitely high risk. If you look at it this way, we are the bridge between both parties. There is an equation of trust from both sides of the spectrum and we build relationships from both sides. When I say a relationship please don’t take it loosely because a relationship means a lot of work which people have to actually honour. We bring these two together and say this is the right leader for your company and companies believe in that too. So you will have to build this between both of these parties so this is something that we do on a daily basis and we learn a lot while doing this as well. I am not saying we get it 100% right, we do have to learn from making those mistakes and re-learn and reinvent the wheel ourselves. So it is a difficult job indeed.
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