Arriving as AirTree’s Head of Talent

Andrew Donald
Jul 6, 2018 · 5 min read

Kia Ora! For those of you that I have met, you will know that I’ve been working as Head of Talent at AirTree Ventures for six months now and am absolutely loving it! For those of you who I haven’t had the pleasure of meeting yet, I wanted to share a bit more about who I am and how I can help.

From Top Left — Caitlin @ Xplor, Dean and Audrey @ Glam Corner, Bridget, Mandy, and Stephi @ Expert360, with “Anna”, Connor and Serdar @ Hyper Anna, the team @ Expert360, Kellie @ HotDoc and Ivan @ Brosa

Who is Andrew?

Here are some fun facts about me — I grew up in a kiwifruit farm in New Zealand, so I am a true kiwi at heart (pardon the pun!). I love pretty much all sports and have a passion for travel, having been to over 38 destinations across the world with plenty of random stories that are definitely not appropriate for this update, but I can of course share them with you over a cheeky wine or beer!

From a professional point of view, I studied film and television after appearing on a show in the UK, and became fascinated about what was going on behind the screen. I had some pretty cool experiences including working on The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe set and even had a few interesting chats with Tilda Swinton!

From there I ended up working in Digital Media where I did a bit of coding as an engineer (am a bit of a techie!), but then quickly realised that my natural skill-set was more around interacting with people. So I started working in technical and digital recruitment for large corporates for a number years before starting my own tech focused recruitment firm “The Onset”.

Recruitment and technology have always been a real passion for me, I love working with the latest start-ups, and keeping up to speed with changing tech trends as the landscape evolves. So managing People at AirTree, and having the opportunity to work as a full-time recruiter for 35+ of Australia’s top founders has to be my career sweet spot.

I am truly excited to be working with great entrepreneurial minds, but at the same time I also love that I get the opportunity to advise, add value, and roll up my sleeves to help our portfolio companies build exceptional teams.

AirTree Talent

AirTree started its Talent function in January 2017 because we all know hiring great people is consistently the #1 concern of startup founders, not to mention the cost of recruitment and how catastrophic hiring the wrong person into your business can be. Plus, startups are already constrained for time and resources, so we made it our mission to help.

How my role works

My commitment is to leverage AirTree’s combined hiring firepower and to supplement our portfolio teams’ own internal recruiting strategies by:

  • Using our strong existing networks and my specialist knowledge after 10+ years in technology recruiting to build deep talent pools
  • Plugging into overseas talent markets, allowing us to meet with people early who are considering returning to work in Australia
  • Building long-term and trusted relationships with our portfolio teams — we are 100% aligned on successful outcomes (not short-term profit)

My 4 key focus areas are helping our portfolio companies with:

  • Building deep talent pools for various roles to be able to introduce great candidates to founders when they need them
  • Working closely with the lead AirTree partners to screen, interview and manage candidates for each hiring process
  • Introducing founders to agencies we trust with discounted rates and terms we’ve already negotiated
  • Introducing founders to senior people who already perform the role they are hiring at great companies, in order to share insights on what to look for and when

2. Building-out their talent function — advice around culture and workforce planning

3. Access to data — benchmarking salaries and other key hiring metrics

4. Facilitating introductions to immigration specialists, domain experts to recruitment partners and of course other founders.

A few insights from me

I thought it would be good to share with you a few insights into the recruitment market at the moment.

  • It really is a candidate-short market, especially in areas that require knowledge of the latest tech trends (engineering, product, UX)
  • International sponsorship is becoming harder because of Visa 457 changes, companies are focusing almost exclusively on local hires first. A key update here: LinkedIn has now been recognised as a job board for 457 visa applications!
  • The best way to find great candidates is to lean on your network and your network’s network. It’s all about who you know and who they know. Most good candidates are being headhunted weekly, meaning there is less of a need for them to be proactive themselves (you can’t just rely on job boards these days!)
  • Founders should physically sit down with staff and new hires and go through their LinkedIn or social accounts and ask for referrals (best source of talent!)
  • People’s motivations are different, therefore it’s crucial to find out what drives each individual and structure processes with that in mind
  • Most candidates are looking beyond salaries to company culture, career advancement, flexible working environments, and projects that are pushing the boundaries in terms of frontier tech. They’re also questioning what the company is doing for our environment, and how it plans to give back to our community

As you can see, teams are faced with a set of opportunities and challenges, but it’s a truly exciting time to be in #startupaus. In order to be successful in this market, I’m focusing on attracting and retaining the best people in the right companies in a genuine, human way.

Say hi!

Anyway, that’s enough from me… I look forward to connecting with more of you as you join the AirTree family, and please feel free to reach out to me directly if you have any questions, comments or ideas —

Also, I upload all current openings on our website, and LinkedIn page,and signing-up to our newsletter, or following us on Twitter is a great way to stay up to date on the high profile roles in #startupaus.

Cheers, Andrew!

Roles we have helped with

Here are a few highlights from the past 3 months of roles that we have successfully helped with….

  • VP of Marketing @ Expert360a digital platform that allows businesses to flex teams on demand, reduce costs and manage their contingent and consulting spend and activity
  • Engineering Manager @ PetCircleecommerce subscription model for premium pet food and pet accessories
  • Tech Lead @ FluroSatan AI-powered crop health monitoring platform that provides farmers and agronomists with actionable insights to improve yields and reduce costs
  • County Manager @ MetaOptimauses AI to assist in the detection of all types of skin cancer
  • Engineer @ Prospaprovides faster finance solutions to SMEs
  • Customer Success Manager @ HotDoconline appointment booking and eHealth platform for GPs
  • Data Engineer @ HyperAnnamachine intelligence for behavioural analytics
  • Development Manager @ Expert360as per above

Roles we are currently recruiting for

And here are some roles I am currently recruiting for… if you are interested, or know anyone that might be interested in these opportunities, please send me an email!


A venture capital fund in Aus and NZ.

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