Having a knowledgeable and engaged CTO aboard can be crucial for your organisation’s technological advancement. This is the person to develop a robust tech strategy for your business and set the direction for your engineering team. Of course, finding the right CTO is often a real challenge.
This is a story of how we have helped our client find and hire a great-fit CTO (in under 10 weeks).
Meet the Company
Enter Debitos GmbH, a Frankfurt-based FinTech company.
Their product is an online platform for trading non-performing loans, enforceable claims, and bankruptcy claims between banks and corporates.
Although Debitos have become highly successful among registered investors in Germany and beyond, they are looking to take their platform to a more sophisticated level in terms of technology. Their aim is to turn their marketplace into a full-blown product that both matches buyers with sellers and allows concluding deals within the platform.
To put this plan into action, the company decided to hire a CTO who would be responsible for the technological decisions, as well as for consolidating all development under one roof in a unified in-house development structure.
Cooperation with Caissa,
or How to hire a CTO in less than 10 weeks
The early investors of Debitos, Paua Ventures, stepped in and initiated the search for a CTO. The VC company had a long-term talent acquisition partners, Caissa Global. This is how Konstanty Sliwowski of Caissa got introduced to the CEO and Managing Director of Debitos, Timur Peters.
Now it was time for the businesses to learn about one another and set the framework for the collaboration.
The entire executive search and recruitment process took less than 10 weeks and comprised 13 steps. Let us take a closer look at each of them.
The initial call
The call with Timur Peters took place on the following day after the introduction (18 October 2017). Konstanty and Albin Bankuti, Caissa’s Executive Search Specialist, needed to learn about the current needs and requirements of Debitos. This way, they could better understand what the company is looking for in a CTO candidate.
During such initial meetings, we strive to understand not only the company’s current challenges and hiring objectives, but also its culture.
Based on the conversation, Albin and Konstanty took notes and set the preliminary search criteria. Albin researched the talent pool and divided potential candidates into three groups:
Candidates matching the existing requirements
Candidates who were slightly below the requirements
Candidates who slightly exceeded the requirements
This way, Debitos could have a balanced overview of the talent profiles they could expect to get on their budget. This approach allows hiring companies to see what the candidates would look like outside the voiced requirements and, thus, adjust those requirements.
Preparation of the sample profiles
The next step of the preliminary research was to compose sample profiles of 8 different candidate personas.
What are those “sample profiles”?
These are composite fictional CVs that represent different types of candidates. They help to understand the company’s preferences and requirements for a specific position better. Afterwards, our team uses them as guidelines for the actual search.
Albin and Konstanty sent the sample profiles to the Debitos executive team 10 minutes before the scheduled call, so that they could go through them together and get the feedback live.
Pair CV reading
A week later, the second call took place. The goal was to go through the sample profiles, obtain detailed feedback, and collect a deeper insight into the requirements for the CTO candidates. The conversation helped to define the key points, amend the search criteria, and align the expectations. Debitos confirmed the best-fit sample profiles.
Thus, the work on the “fictional” profiles made it clear to us that we were raising the bar when searching for a potential CTO. In reality, the candidate did not need to have an experience working in a C-role. Instead, he/she needed to possess the necessary skills and abilities that would make them a good tech manager. Another important criterion was understanding of the highly regulated financial sector.
After defining the desired candidate profiles together with the client, our executive team was able to approach individuals whose actual profiles matched the “fictional” ones the most. Albin and Konstanty used the additional information collected during the pair CV reading to identify more qualified candidates and engage with them.
Candidate screening is a preliminary conversation with a person who both matches the search criteria and is interested in the position. At this stage, it is important to understand the candidate’s background, make an assessment of his or her hard and soft skills, and learn about their current motivation and expectations. This step allows us to select people who seem to be a good fit for the position and pass their profiles onto the hiring company.
Over the next few weeks since the discussion of the sample profiles, Albin selected 6 individuals and sent their CVs to the Debitos executive team. These were qualified candidates who matched all the main criteria, including the culture fit. They performed best in the screening calls and were interested in the job opportunity.
Albin and Konstanty followed up with the client regarding every profile.
Following up with the candidates
It is the responsibility of a recruitment agency to be a medium between the hiring company and early-stage candidates. As it usually happens, the client had some additional questions to the candidates before inviting them to an interview. So, Konstanty and Albin managed the communication between the Debitos executive team and applicants. They also helped to make the interview appointments.
Over the time that followed, 5 candidates of 6 were interviewed. Debitos conducted the interviews on their own in November and December. As a result, they shortlisted two candidates.
During this stage, our team continued to make the necessary arrangements, moderate the communication between the company and applicants, follow up with both sides and gather feedback.
Although Albin and Konstanty were not physically present at the interviews, they were responsible for collecting references and making the respective calls. The final interviews and reference checks were conducted before Christmas 2017.
At this point, Debitos have found their potential CTO. The company informed the candidate about the decision and proposed their terms verbally. Caissa’s Albin Bankuti met with the future CTO in Frankfurt to discuss the offer, find out if the proposed terms were satisfactory, and make sure it was in line with his expectations. Only after this, Timur Peters, the CEO of Debitos, presented the official offer letter to the candidate on Christmas Eve.
After taking a brief time to consider and reflect, the candidate successfully accepted the offer before New Year’s Eve. He stepped into his new position at the beginning of January. Albin and Konstanty followed up with both the client and the new CTO at multiple points to ensure that the onboarding process was proceeding smoothly and all the organisational issues are being taken care of.
Our executive search team continues to regularly check with both sides to ensure successful integration into the business. Recruitment agencies often overlook this important step. However, we believe that our job does not end with the offer and it’s vital to keep in touch with all parties over the long term.
The New CTO
Now let us tell you about the new CTO of Debitos.
Frederik Tylleman is happy with his current position. Originally from Belgium, he lives in the Frankfurt area. Prior to joining Debitos, he worked for Citi Group for over 16 years where he progressed from a Web and Applications Developer to Senior Programmer Analyst. With a background in development, rich experience in the financial sector, and willingness to take on more responsibility, Frederik was looking for a career change. He wanted to join a smaller company as a CTO, so that his work would have a significant impact on the business as a whole.
Debitos was a great fit for him as much as he was a great fit for Debitos.
The entire hiring process, from the moment the recruitment need was articulated till the day the new CTO started working at the company, lasted 10 weeks. This is an impressive result considering that Debitos were looking to fill in an executive role.
For us at Caissa, it has been a pleasure to work with Timur Peters and his company, and to assist Frederik Tylleman in taking the next step in his career journey.
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