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Jo Fisher, VP of HR at Adknowledge Asia, is integrating an acquisition with a major telco whilst hiring more than 90 people. She takes a breath to explain how managing rapid growth all comes down to culture.
Building a robust, high-performing team to grow the largest adtech platform in Asia is actually just as challenging as it sounds.
Asia Pacific has the second highest digital advertising spend globally, thanks to rapid smartphone adoption. So, you can imagine how building one company across nine diverse markets (Bangkok, Manila, New Delhi, Mumbai, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Seoul and Singapore) is a roller coaster ride of insights into hiring and recruitment.
In my role, I have an ambitious task set for this quarter: bringing together our partnership with telco Axiata, and putting together a team of the industry’s brightest to hit 40% quarter-on-quarter growth. And I have to do this all within the competitive and ever-changing social and video advertising space.
Managing and maintaining this level of growth is no walk in the park. Attracting top talent across several diverse markets involves the ability to understand and adapt to nuanced local cultures and behaviours, whilst retaining a regional perspective. It’s only once you understand cultural behaviour that you can start talking about company culture, and using that to build airtight hiring practices.
Between setting up the Adknowledge Asia headquarters in Singapore and conducting a joint venture and juggling an acquisition, I’ve learnt a thing or two about hiring the best in the business.
1. Inclusivity is key
No matter how big your company grows, always keep the mentality of a startup. Bring in the best fit talent and then keep them engaged and empowered every step of the way. By providing a dynamic, inclusive and non-hierarchical environment, people feel comfortable sharing ideas and contributing to the bigger picture. They want to know they’re making their mark in your business.
By providing a dynamic, inclusive and non-hierarchical environment, people feel comfortable sharing ideas and contributing to the bigger picture. They want to know they’re making their mark in your business.
Whether I’m in Bangkok or Seoul, I always talk to candidates about our core values and who we are in our DNA. From the moment we start recruiting, we look for those values in each candidate. In the office at Adknowledge Asia, anyone can also share ideas with our CEO, Matt Sutton, as he actively encourages other opinions and feedback. Having an avenue for open conversation and feedback with senior leaders is what keeps companies in fast-paced industries growing.
2. Processes are essential
I have three dedicated recruiters on my team, who all work on hiring for different regions. They comb through every single profile – there’s no automation of keywords – and utilise our strong referral programme to find ideal talent. This newly-launched LinkedIn Referral Programme is currently running in Asia, and has been hugely effective for building a strong, culturally-appropriate talent pipeline.
We prefer employing people who have been referred by our staff, as it usually means we are connected with talent who fit with our culture and understand our values.
Internally, we like to say that everyone within Adknowledge Asia is a recruiter and a brand ambassador. We prefer employing people who have been referred by our staff, as it usually means we are connected with talent who fit with our culture and understand our values.
3. Gain valuable market insight
If you think you can have one absolute, consistent culture across all markets, you’re going to be disappointed. We are currently hiring aggressively, mainly across ad operations and tech sales roles. The values we look for are always going to be slightly different depending on the market we’re recruiting in. Nowhere are these differences more noticeable than in Asia Pacific, with its fragmented markets, geographies and cultures.
In markets like Thailand or Korea, recruitment is a challenge. Few candidates use Linkedin, and English is understandably not always a first language, so there are immediate barriers. This is why referrals are so important to us.
The values we look for are always going to be slightly different depending on the market we’re recruiting in.
Then you have a market like Indonesia, where people jump jobs quickly. The challenge here doesn’t lie in talent attraction, but in retention. We will often go through the entire hiring process with a candidate, only for them to suddenly drop out and accept a higher offer elsewhere.
To achieve my goals this quarter, my team and I must understand behaviour cross-culturally, and identify whether an individual is going to fit with our company. Aligning the two is never easy, but it mostly comes down to attitude; you can teach people technical competencies and skills, but you can’t train people in terms of attitude and personality. And while there are a multitude of differences, there is actually one constant across markets: people like to work for an organisation where they feel valued, heard and engaged. It’s important that along with our ambitious growth plans, we are able to maintain that sense of belonging with everyone.
Photo / Adknowledge Asia
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