Take the Time to Find Top Talent
I’ve been in talent for the past 15-plus years, starting back during the the era of the brick phone — which I happily owned — but that’s a different story I’d be happy to reminisce with anyone who’s up for it.
My journey into the world of talent didn’t take a straight path. In fact, when I was younger, I didn’t dream of one day becoming a recruiter who would help people find their dream job. I actually wanted to be a nurse, which would have fulfilled the real dream of my Filipino parents who hoped that their children would enter the healthcare field. Nursing was a natural fit since helping people was something I loved doing. But life doesn’t always go down the straight and narrow path and mine went a little off track.
I became a mom early on. I subsequently put the idea of becoming a nurse in the rear view mirror and never looked back. I had a new purpose and drive for life. I’m a firm believer that things happen for a reason. I answered an ad from an actual newspaper for a company looking for an assistant. I started my career in a recruiting agency that focused on hiring engineering talent. I was the executive assistant to the president of the firm and really enjoyed learning the business through that lens. There was just something intriguing about how recruiters built relationships with candidates and clients. I saw the excitement of that partnership and their camaraderie. I wanted to be a part of that.
With support and encouragement from the team, I took the leap and was promoted to becoming a recruiter for the company. It turned out to be the springboard for my career. I loved being a part of someone’s journey to find a new role or partnering with a hiring manager to build their organization. I still get emails from people I worked with years ago thanking me for helping them get a job or for imparting career guidance and advice as they built their first teams. I’ve watched as many have gone on to fantastic careers taking on even more responsibility — there’s no better feeling.
Taking that initial leap of faith gave me the opportunity to work for some of the most notable and well-respected companies in Silicon Valley such as Google, Adobe and Yahoo. They were the big whales in comparison to the early stage companies I’ve been partnering with the past couple of years since moving into the VC ecosystem. I’ve tried to apply lessons learned to my startups. Of course, not everything is transferable from a big firm to a startup. But this much remains true, regardless of size: Everyone needs to take ‘building the team’ as a core competency.
Great companies are built on their ability to attract, retain and grow their talent. And it’s a constant that never goes away. When you’re small, with no brand recognition, limited resources — not to mention the competitiveness of the market — having a thoughtful strategy is paramount. Hiring can be mentally draining and time-consuming for the founder and team when there are product releases, managing day-to-day fires, deals to close, meetings and everything else that goes along with building a company. It’s important to set your strategy from the very beginning to reduce time wasted, especially when you don’t have enough time to give.
One thing I try to understand early with my founders is what is the goal and problem statement for this particular hire or function. We want to encourage thoughtful planning that has a goal in mind so we can work backwards. This applies not only to a time table of when you want this candidate hired but also why are we hiring them in the first place and what’s their responsibility. When we start there we can create the right foundation for success. This helps guide our thinking around the ideal profile for a candidate and one that everyone on the hiring committee agrees with. There is nothing more wasteful than spending time interviewing candidates who turn out to be obvious bad fits because their skills don’t align. You can avoid this by setting your criteria early in the process and revisiting those assumptions often. And don’t be overwhelmed to the point where you can’t make a decision and move forward. Speed is critical. Always be recruiting. Make time for it. People are your most important asset.
In my role as Operating Partner, I’ll be focused on providing talent strategy and tactics for finding and hiring the best talent for our companies. This is where the fun begins such as where do you look for that great engineer? How do you write a job description that makes your opportunity stand out? How do you run a process that is as compelling as the opportunity? I’ll help companies create plans and strategies for everything that encompasses talent.
Life is too short not to work with amazing people. The team at Costanoa impressed me with their commitment to values, along with an incredibly supportive culture and deep experience in building their own companies and leading teams. They believe in providing hands-on guidance and support to their founders and executive teams that will ultimately lead to greater success. The group is uniquely built and everyone brings a super power to the table. The team has multiple operating disciplines in marketing, sales and now talent. People and talent isn’t just a service; it’s a belief they have as it relates to the foundation of growing and sustaining an organization. I share that same passion and motivation and that’s why I’m here.
In this competitive market, it’s not enough to just survive but you need to thrive and get better every day. I get to work with some of the brightest and most innovative people who are starting companies and have the opportunity to be with them from the beginning. I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with so many amazing companies, managers, founders and teams that I actually get to call what I do a job. I’m excited to be a part of this dynamic team and share my experiences to help our companies accomplish greatness.
I look forward to meeting you all!