Scaling to new markets: It's all about the people.

As part of a new series, Oliver Hawkley, a partner in our global executive search practice, will be exploring the importance of having the right people on board when scaling to new markets and how to find them.

In this first instalment, Oliver shares his first-hand experiences with ambitious scale-ups, providing a case study on how one tech firm achieved this and the tactics their CEO implemented.  

Having the right leadership is key

Over my two decades in executive search, I have had the privilege of working closely with some of the most capable business leaders in Europe, Australasia, and North America. These leaders are not only transformative within the businesses and people they lead, but they leave a positive imprint on all the stakeholders that they connect with. However, there is another side to the coin of what we do. I have witnessed the chaos and destruction poor leadership can create, often in an astonishingly small space of time.

How is this specifically relevant for tech firms looking to scale into new markets? How can you avoid these costly and, let's face it, embarrassing mistakes?

World-class people can make or break expansion plans

As a partner in a boutique executive search firm in Asia-Pac, I had the pleasure of working with a scaling hi-tech firm with global ambitions. I was struck immediately by how despite the business' aggressive growth ambitions, the newly appointed CEO’s first addition to the team was finding the most commercially capable chief people officer (CPO). The CEO viewed the role of the CPO as being critical to the success of the firm’s plan for global growth..

The appointed CPO ultimately led and shaped the sales function, re-organised engineering, logistics, and established structures to nurture and grow the people and the business. One of the most important traits that the CPO exercised was conducting performance management conversations for the good of the person, the team and the business performance. They were not brash or clumsy, they managed their team in a logical and empathetic manner, and ultimately this approach enabled the business and its people to grow.

The CEO knew they had a good product-market fit, but the CEO also realised that without a world class people function the process of sustainable global growth would be made more difficult. It was also no coincidence that when said CPO moved on, there was a seamless handover internally to an individual ready to make the step up. Succession was achieved.

Committing to finding talent

Broadly speaking, I can reconcile the most successful businesses with the boards, founders, and CEOs that have deployed a laser focus on the people decisions; despite their own staggeringly busy schedules, the successful businesses find the time.  

At Newfound, we can support you on these decisions and ensure that your decisions are additive to your market entry plan and are as seamless as possible. Our team combines decades of global experience to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls of hiring mistakes, particularly if we have partnered with you to create your market validation and commercial planning. All companies have the ability to put the right processes in place, and we can help you do this.

When  you get the people decisions right …. you can tackle anything.