In a Harvard Business Review article published last year, Dave Aron, Global Research Director, Leading Edge Forum, said, "Talent wars will decide the winners and losers in the next decade." Even in 2018, this seems to be the key focus for most tech leaders.
At YourStory’s Future of Work conference, Amod Malviya, Co-founder, Udaan, Pramod Jajoo, Venture Partner, Kalaari Capital, and Shivoo Koteshwar, General Manager, Site Head, MediaTek Bengaluru took a stab at what would be the best practices for organistions to hire and inspire the best tech talent.
Even in an age where there is talk of artificial intelligence (AI) taking over jobs, hiring makes or breaks an organisation. However, how do you find the right people, how do you retain them, and ensure they grow and help the organisation develop further?
Finding the right talent
"Great talent can be found in different places. They can be colleges, companies, startups that tried doing something that didn’t work out. It all really depends on what you are looking for,” says Amod.
The panelists agreed that it also depends on what stage the company the company is at. Amod opines that in the early stages, when companies have less money, colleges and failed startups make great hunting grounds for talent.
“It helps if you are well-networked. Right now, it is easier for me to hire than it was 10 years back. Then I had to rely on hiring from colleges and growing them up,” says Amod.
Pramod points out that it is important to understand and find the balance between the needs of the organisation and individual needs.
“There is no one place or formula that works. It is mix of different things that matter,” says Pramod. Having been the CTO of BigBasket, Pramod has had to hire from different places and organisations.
As part of a Taiwanese hardware organisation, Shivoo, on the other hand, had to begin with attending every possible event, meeting and conference, so that people understand what MediaTek does. Over three-and-a-half years, the organisation has built a team of 500 people.
How much are they willing to learn?
“In most interviews, I would ask, 'give me examples of what you have learnt in the last six months that your job didn’t require you to learn',” says Pramod, adding that in many cases, he would get blank stares, and he would then ask what they learnt in the last two years.
It is important to understand how much time they are willing to spend learning and how deep they want to go into something.
People who are innate learners go deeper and are open. “For the tech industry, innate learning and self-learning is a great skill,” says Pramod.
Mini-entrepreneurs and the power of self-management
For Shivoo, the idea was to participate and be a part of talent communities, so as to understand people in the community and engage with them. This would make it easier to hire in the future. It also provides an insight into what is happening in the space and ecosystem.
Discipline is the key for any techie. “For the first few years, you just need to understand the definition of discipline,” says Shivoo. While people are driven by different pointers like finance, roles and titles, the panellists believed that it truly depends on what the organisational goals are.
“If you leave a large number of people to their own device, they will be lost and will not be able to see the big picture,” says Amod. To ensure that a hire is a right one it is important for people to have the ability to make their own decisions. While skills come and go, what says is innate ability and curiosity.
For most startups, it is important that people keep their hand on the pulse and understand what needs to be learnt, what needs to be unlearnt and possibly even relearnt.
What kind of tech leaders are needed for startups?
A good tech leader cannot be a tech bigot, or focus on how amazing the technology is. Pramod believes that a tech leader needs to understand how tech actually solves the business and user problems and how well it solves it.
“A leader must be a fairly hands-on techie, have an eye for architecture and design, participate, and have the ability to keep things simple, organisation and product-wise. Don’t complicate, as much as possible,” says Pramod.
The idea is to let people make their own decisions, learn and put the best foot forward. It could also mean not having to wait for tools or approvals.
“If you take a time period of 10 years, there have been a mix of talent that is needed. What was needed a few years back is not or may not necessarily be needed today. Technology is fast moving, it is important to find someone who is willing to move and learn with that,” says Amod.