Tips for choosing an executive team

As your business grows, so does the need for outside expertise. Selecting the right people to form your executive team is crucial to maximising your growth potential.

Yet choosing exactly who to select for the role is no easy feat. Of course you want them to be good at what they do and knowledgeable in their respective field. Then there are less tangible elements such as will you get along with them, how well do they understand your business, and are they the right fit for your business?

One business operator to have faced this dilemma is David Vitek, CEO and co-founder of hipages. The online destination for people looking to review and employ tradespeople – and former Optus My Business Award winner – was established in a backyard garage in 2004, and now boasts more than 2 million visitors each month.

“hipages had unprecedented growth in 2016, and with this growth we’ve had to re-evaluate our management structure to ensure that we continue growing in the right way,” David explains.Office workers converse around a boardroom table

“Part of this is putting in place new policies and processes to ensure we’re able to manage teams more efficiently and create more streamlined channels of communication, and this has been achieved through the new executive positions we’ve created.”

In total, hipages took on five executives throughout the year, covering finance, people, marketing and commercial operations. Most recently, hipages appointed former Gumtree and eBay technology executive Paolo Ragone as chief technology officer.

My Business asked David about how he went about recruiting for these roles, the traits he looked for in potential candidates and what he learnt from the process:

My Business: What decision-making factors go into determining whether or not new executive roles are needed?

David Vitek: For us, it’s all about making sure we’re looking to the future in order to maintain growth and continue innovating. While it may be easier in the short term to shoulder responsibilities yourself, it’s important for the future of the company to create and fill new positions that will future-proof the company.

MB: What are the key traits you have sought in all of your executives?

DV: We’re not looking for someone to fill a role, but rather we’re looking for agile and motivated people: the people who can see the areas of a business that need to be improved or could benefit from changes are the people who are going to actually help take the business further.

We’re also very conscious about who we place in these executive positions. We’re looking for people who have a future vision for the company. So if necessary, we will delay until we find the right person to lead this component of the business.

MB: How have you gone about finding talent to fill the roles created?

DV: It’s generally a very long-term process when it comes to the executive roles, because we’re looking for those people who are not going to execute the role, but elevate it.

We speak to dozens of applicants for each position to make sure we’re picking the right people.

MB: Is it difficult to effectively hand over some of the control of your business to ‘outsiders’?

DV: It certainly can be, especially seeing as my co-founder Roby Sharon-Zipser and I have had such a hands-on role in every aspect of the business for so long.

It’s been difficult to take a step back, but when we find people who share our passion and vision for the company, it certainly makes the process easier.

MB: What advice would you give to other SME owners about taking on executives?

DV: Hold onto your entrepreneurial spirit and look for the people that share it.

We’ve changed a lot over our 12 years of operation, but we still hold onto our day-one attitude of getting things done. It’s a trait that you should be looking for in any hire, executive or not!

 

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