This blogpost belongs to the series “MBA, Entrepreneurship and Family Business“.

MBA, Tech & Start-Ups

In the first part of our chat with Anne, we mainly talked about Google and MBA. In this second part we wanted to know more about what she does today with her firm Anne Caron Consulting and discuss the challenges that startups are facing and how MBA graduates could blend in the startups environment.

From our research and experience, we discovered that the existing HR models fail to attract, engage and develop efficiently talents. Most of them were designed more than a century ago at the time of high manufacturing industry growth. The environment has drastically changed, and so have the HR needs! HR cannot be just a set of policies anymore; it needs to be integrated into a larger strategy: The company People Strategy.
Besides, the development of startups and SMEs which are characterized by their small size, high growth potential and fast-paced environment emphasizes the need for even more agile and scalable approaches.
People are a company’s most valuable assets, and therefore it is of great importance that companies have it right from day one.
Taking these into consideration, we have devised a simple, yet comprehensive, approach of tackling people management problems — The 5 Pillars of People:
  1. Define the culture, mission and values which will drive consistency in the people and business strategies;
  2. Organize, i.e. translate the culture into policies and establish fair, legal and productive business practices;
  3. Attract, i.e. building an efficient hiring process to ensure the recruitment of the right people for the right position at the right time;
  4. Retain, i.e. developing a positive workplace enhancing employee engagement, performance and satisfaction in which the culture occupies a central place;
  5. Develop, i.e. anticipating needs and developing ad hoc Talent development strategies
At Google, Anne experienced first-hand how a company people strategy when done right can drive the business.

The Interview

Jonathan

What are the skills that the startups you worked for or are working with need?

Today most startups (but not just startups!) are struggling with the recruitment of Tech profiles (developers, CTOs and VPs of Engineering). The talent market is limited. Globally and it is especially true in the SEA region. A lot of companies are looking for the same kind of profiles. And this is where a strong Company Culture will make the difference and help;

  1. Identify who are the talents adapted to your organization
  2. Attract and hire the right talents
  3. Retain and develop them efficiently

Jonathan

So would you say that it is a good time for MBAs to join the startups world?

I don’t think it is about time. It is about individual’s objectives. Startups can absolutely do with well-rounded individuals such as MBA graduates to join their management team. MBA, Tech and Startups is a trend. No doubt about it.
But to succeed in startup environments, you need to be ready to give up on the comfort of corporate companies. Lower compensation, no structure, high level of insecurity, constant change… It therefore requires a high level of agility, resilience and drive.
I want to think that most of the people who made the change from corporate to startups and those graduating from an MBA program have gone through a similar thought process and self-introspection. Both MBA and startup experiences are a learning journey. Before going on a journey, you need to know what you want to get out of it, and where you want to land. If it is money, startup is not the easier neither the safest way. If you want challenge and venture, this is the way!

Jonathan

What are the challenges that startups face in acquiring the right talents? Retaining it?

As mentioned previously, when a company has done the job right in defining their company culture and put the people strategy at the center of their overall strategy, recruitment becomes less of a challenge. Nor does retaining their talents. However, because many startups don’t do this properly, the truth is that recruitment is a real problem. Many startups makes the mistake to recruit skills only while they should emphasize on the candidate’s values and the intrinsic abilities. Skills and experience can be acquired.
But it is extremely hard to change values, and impossible to change intrinsic abilities. Something else that early stage founders tend to minimize is the importance of the first hires. The first hires need to be very strategically selected as they will compose the foundation of the company. Companies need to plan for this core team to stay with the company for 5–10 years and be the pillars of the organization. So they cannot afford to have it wrong.

Jonathan

To conclude. MBA, Tech and Startups: good or bad combination?

Haha. There isn’t such answer. With scoutedby your job is to match candidates with the right business school to help them achieve their career goals. And I think this is crucial. It is not so much the degree which will bring value to your resume. It is the thought process, the journey and the purpose which is priceless! This is what we are looking for during the interview.

About the Author

Jonathan Deforge
MBA Admissions Expert

Jonathan has 8 years of work experience in Education Management. After working for a top-ranked business school in both the MBA Admissions team and Corporate Relations, he helped Prep Zone establish its franchise in Shanghai, China. In 2016, he launched scoutedby in an attempt to disrupt the application process and secured partnerships with leading schools such as INSEAD, HEC Paris, NUS, NTU or HKUST. Working for the last 5 years on career problematics, he knows best both business education and entrepreneurship.

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