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How To Make Talent Acquisition Strategic, Internationally

Jan 13, 2023 2:00:00 AM | By


While some organizations treat recruiters like order takers, others prioritize talent acquisition as a function that’s central to company success. In this episode, we talk to Julie Farr-Voller, head of recruiting at late-stage hypergrowth startup Dataminr, about how her team has elevated recruiting into a strategic function.

Join us as we discuss:

  • How to prioritize talent acquisition
  • Pay transparency in the global landscape
  • Improving employee retention



CAITLIN ALLEN: Hi, everyone, welcome to another episode of high growth matters. I'm Caitlin Allen, your host. And today we're going to talk about how some organizations treat recruiters much like order takers. And then there are others that really prioritize talent acquisition, it's something that is central to a company's success. And so we're talking to Julie Farr-Voller, about which side of the fence is more conducive to hyper growth, something she knows a lot about right now, and how her team has elevated recruiting into a strategic function over the last two and a half years or so under her leadership at Dataminr. So Julie, welcome. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and Dataminr?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, of course, thank you for having me. So I joined Dataminr, permanently two and a half years ago, having actually contracted for them a little bit in a previous function. And Dataminr always has a special part in my, in my heart, we are very mission driven organization. And I joined to scale the international ta function. So we have opened up various offices internationally, and I manage the TA team that is responsible for hiring all of those people and hiring the individuals into the growth offices.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love it. And we're gonna get into some of those specifics of how many countries how many people on your team in a minute. That being said, one of the things we love to ask the professional before we get to know them as a professional is something personal. What is something that your coworkers don't generally know about you as a person?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, I mean, I'm a pretty open book with my team. But one of the things I think that they would probably find amusing is that when I'm driving around in my car, I love to shout out, like, songs from the west ends, any sort of musicals, I'll have it on super loud and just sing along as I'm as I'm driving around. So I think they probably find that quite funny.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love it. Actually. Did I loved being in musicals? In high school? I did every year. So much fun.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, escapism? Is that?

CAITLIN ALLEN: Said? Yes. So so let's get back to you and Dataminr. So you have an international talent acquisition team that you've built? So let's get back to you on the work side. Julie, you are on the international talent acquisition team. And like I said, You've been there for two and a half years at Dataminr. How has your team evolved over time while you've been there? Hadn't it? How is it structured today?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, good question. So we started off with, I was actually the only recruiter on the international side, and I hired a team. So I have a recruiting team that functions over our technical side of the business and also our business side. We also have talent specialists, the sourcing team, and we roll up into the global team that also has marketing capability and operations function. So as a team, we're pretty mature in our model, I believe. But yeah, on the international side, we've scaled two to five.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Okay, fabulous, and how large is the global team?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: 17 and that is spread in out of the US and then in the UK at the moment.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Okay, thank you. That's, that's super helpful for our listeners to kind of have situational awareness as we dive into this conversation. So how, as a global team and an international talent acquisition team, how does the inner miner approach building a an employer brand that's global, but also local enough that it's appealing to candidates all over the world and in different parts of each country.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, it's, it's difficult. So things that work in the US. And that work in the UK might not work very well in Australia or in Germany. So what we try to do is at the middle of it have our core values, and then we nuance it for the various locations. I think, although we operate in many different countries, and they're very different, the core value of Dataminr is pretty similar. So yeah, lots of nuances and definitely a little bit of trial and error as well along the way,

CAITLIN ALLEN: I would assume so yes. And I'm excited to dive into what some of those nuances are, are in each of the countries your team hires. But before we get there, maybe we can set the stage is we're here to talk about how you've made talent acquisition strategic, how do you approach that, that such that talent acquisition and recruiting is not something that seems seen as a tactical kind of, you know, more salesy kind of role a Dataminr?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, and it's something that the leadership team have worked really hard on to make sure that we are the strategic partner to the business is something that's very much in in my DNA. So I feel like I can empower the team to like, push back on hiring managers bring their opinions to the table, we definitely operate in a business partner model. So it's not a case of a hiring manager telling us to go and hire x y Zed, we bring to the table market knowledge TAS felt like expertise, if you haven't worked in recruitment. I think it's hard to be the expert, like a sales leader as an expert in sales, not necessarily how to how to recruit. And I think empowering my recruiters to have that mindset is really important, because it can be very easy to slip into, into an order taker style, but we're very, we are a business partner. So we don't work for the hiring team, we work with them. And yes, some recruiters struggle with that when they first come on board today to mine, it's very different to everything before. But the end goal is that you are that your thought, thought leadership partner with your hiring manager in an ideal world.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Interesting. It's It feels very similar in some ways, your description to how marketers describe the difference between being an order taker or being a core member of the the C level or the executive level team where you're coming with insights, you're coming with expertise, you're coming with well informed opinions, and working with and not for the rest of the executive team that cares about revenue. So I really understand what you're saying. Let's get back to what you were saying about how an employer brand really needs to have AIDS to show up in different ways in different countries. Then your team I believe, hires in the UK and Dublin, France, Germany, Denmark, you know, I'm sure the list goes on, what are some of the hiring nuances. Yeah, that your team keeps aware, are top of mind as they hire that our listeners should also know about.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, so also Australia is on that list as well. So we are spanning multiple time zones out of out of my UK team. But there's definitely nuances. I think one of the things that US headquarter company probably, like can struggle with is the the amount of time that it takes to hire internationally. So hiring in Germany, France takes a long time, and there are definitely different nuances with the way that those those companies operate. So we, we acquired a company in Denmark, for example, and it's quite well publicized that Danish companies have a very, very strong family value, your benefits have to be tailored towards family and being like understanding that area of individuals lives and there's definitely different benefits and and legislation in France and Germany, for example, that you also need to need to have in your in your perks and benefits package, if you want to hire out there, whether it's one person or 10 You really need to have that. So it's keeping advising our teams on those nuances. And whenever we do enter into a new country, it's a team sport. So we would have a expansion team and TA very much has a seat at the table. That was me for Germany and France. I got to be in all of those meetings and give my knowledge on hiring in Germany and France and what you need to have timeframes but everyone is involved. So marketing sales leaders, it even things like getting a Mac in France, getting it over to the the employees that has things like that that you have to think of so, yeah, there's definitely nuances.

CAITLIN ALLEN: How long when you say a long time to hire in France. How long is long

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Well, the typical notice period in Germany is three months. So you have to factor that in. And then the time to find the talent. The time to find the talent in Germany in France as well, and three months notice can be quite typical in France too. So if you're looking for an enterprise AE, where a lot of software vendors are looking for that talent at the moment, it can take six months from kicking off the search to having your hire land. And like that is, that is pretty unusual for, like, if you're hiring a us in the US, and in the UK, yeah, they can be in seat within a month. So it takes a lot of strategic planning to make sure that they are here in seat and functional by the time that you need them.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Wow. And I think too, you know, in the US, right, where you two weeks is kind of standard notice maybe a little bit longer if you're more senior, but I can imagine that takes a lot of educating for you up front, since you're headquartered in the US, in New York to let your to set expectations about what's actually reasonable. Yeah, that makes sense.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yes. And we launched in, we launched in France and Germany at the same time. So we really did throw ourselves in at the deep end to, to like, take on all of those challenges. And I'm pretty lucky, the backgrounds I had was very much putting first feet on the ground in Europe, for US companies like I've walked this path before. So I could say with confidence at those meetings, the expansion meetings that you know, it's going to take x y Zed, then there's obviously highest that you can make quicker and some that take longer, but six months to me is the is the time that you should budget as a minimum.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's very important to know. And Denmark is are really important. Benefits. You'd also mentioned in our prep call that Germany has a very hot talent market, but very hard or difficult to hire. And why is that?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, I think there's a lot of US companies that want to crack the duck market. So Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and there's probably companies that that have tried, it hasn't been successful. And you know that that news spreads, and just in general with them, even outside of Germany, at the moment with the economy being like crazy as it is, people are risk averse. So if you're coming into Germany as a US headquartered company, and you want your first feet on the ground, like that's quite a lot of risk for an employee to take on. So it's about walking them through. In 2019, we were like one our first feet in Australia, we're now over 60 people in Australia, when when Dataminr gets into a region, we get momentum where we're successful. So yeah, but it can be very hard to be the only person in a new region definitely takes a certain a certain type of person, I think, to to want to take that challenge. And it's competitive. Everyone's looking for the same person.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Makes a lot of sense. Let's talk about your patron sufficiency for a minute. What does that look like in the global landscape?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, so we, we currently do not have it mandated, like the recent mandate in New York, for example, in the regions that we'd hire, but one thing I was thinking about this, with, with Dataminr, every single candidate goes through what we call a recruiter screen as a first step. And as a, as a TA team. In that first call, we're pretty transparent around salary expectations, what we can comp for a role, we do not go to market without having the comp already mapped out. And we can be pretty transparent with candidates, even though in the UK doesn't necessarily mandate me to. To do that. The one thing that I guess, other regions might catch up on is that it's the advertising of salary bands. So we're doing that everywhere in the US where it's required, but we're we haven't yet decided to do that in international locations, perhaps where it is not a legal requirement yet. But we do cover it very early on in the process to make sure that we're on the same page and that the expectations are aligned.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Sure. Okay. Great. That's, that's amazing. And it sounds like on a global landscape to the different requirements by countries are quite different. And in us, the US is a bit is it accurate to say ahead of the times? Does it just variant?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, I think so. And we're led by our our legal team and our external commercial external counsel as to what we do and we like to say that the the New York guidance came in, we rolled it out and we are we are compliant. And it was a strange, strange time. We're not quite sure what was there. happened and then that they're out there and nothing bad has happened. It's been fine. So yeah, I think it's just but it wouldn't surprise me if it starts being mandated in international locations to.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That makes sense. How much does pay transparency matter to candidates, say in France or Germany or Denmark?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, I don't think it's necessarily transparency. I think the pay equity piece will always come up. Just in terms of like, how does Dataminr you know, comfort roles? How do you make sure it's fair? Like we definitely would not want anyone Saturday tomorrow thinking that they're they didn't have pay parity. We're very hot on and yeah, it's not necessarily something that I've had German or French candidates bring up? Because, again, we hit it really early on in that first conversation. So I'd like to think that once they're in the business, yeah, they feel supported by our HR and their their leaders.

CAITLIN ALLEN: It's a really good point, too, that the candidates care more about equity than transparency, per se. I actually think that that transparency is a, how you get to the why you're doing it, and the why is pay equity. So it, it makes sense to me that that would be what matters the most.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, and I definitely heard of candidates, I think, again, just being upfront about about the ranges is a good way of it's a good practice for us. I think there's nothing worse if you're engaged in a job search, and like no one wants to talk about the salary or people can't answer your question about the salary, I feel that organizations should not go to market without having, you know, the aligned as well as they can. Before before going and having those conversations.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yeah, yeah. You referred a question or two back about the difference of hiring someone, when it's the first person in a country versus hiring somebody globally to join an office that's established like your I think your UK office is 180 people. And there are several countries, you've mentioned, where you've just hired your first few, how do you think about hiring that first employee when expanding into a new country, and I'm sure the profile is different.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, and I think for the first feet on the ground, or belittle the first few feet on the ground, you really need entrepreneurial mindset, people that you are up for the challenge, you definitely still probably need all of those things when hiring in an established office. But I just think you need that person that doesn't mind that, you know, everything's not there, you're not walking into a fully structured country and territory already. So that there is definitely a difference. One thing I will say is that we are completely transparent upfront about the set the situation that we have in France or Germany, because people will find out very quickly when they land if it's not, as you say it well. And I was having a conversation with a recruiter my team to the point where she she mentioned, like, I feel like I'm putting people off sometimes just by like ripping the plaster off and telling them like everything that it is about coming into being that first person, but I think we lead with transparency. But then when you join the 180 person office, maybe you don't get to be like, as creative because things are already quite structured. They're already running. But I still think to work in this scale up, you have to have that entrepreneurial desire and want to be part of the you know, sometimes it can be chaos, and and you have to be okay with that. And there's, there's highs and lows again, you have to be okay with that.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yeah, great points all around. I think it really it. There is like you said a big difference between hiring somebody that's a first versus hiring somebody that joins a team that's more established. And, you know, for certain profiles, yes, it's going to be off putting that there's maybe not much infrastructure in place, your first employee in the country. And then for other people, I think that's really exciting and thrilling, right? It means ownership, it means creativity to your point. So it's really just just looking for that, that kind of response to the situation.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, definitely. And you will notice as well, and you start to get a sense that, like people will do this like two or three times. So I was the first person for company X. And like, I loved it. We built this we built that and it becomes again, then you're like the first person the Dataminr and you you've done it before, but equally, if someone hadn't been done it before, we would still consider that profile like someone's someone's what would be the first time once so yeah, but it is interesting. You see people like repeat the pattern

CAITLIN ALLEN: right? sense. So you you located in the UK, yourself are an international employee, so to speak for a company that's headquartered in the US. And I know a lot of our listeners are at high growth companies that are either going global for the first time, or they want to go global. And they're aware that managing a global workforce is it brings with it its own nuance. So I'm curious what it's like for you working, you know, as a, quote, international employee, and how would you advise our more US based people leaders to empower their international teams?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yeah, it's a really good question. I think there's definitely like I say things that work in New York, but that don't work here. And you have to be able to say that, and I'm pretty lucky again, the LT that I report into, they appreciate the honesty around things like that. But I also think, you know, we have things to learn from from the US team. So there's a lot of transferable skills, it's just that it's the nuance. And the piece of advice I'd give to anyone in a US leadership role with international teams would be, like, use the expertise that you've got on the international side of the fence. So yeah, there's, there's a lot of differences and nuances. And I wouldn't, I would advise individuals to learn about about those nuances. So even though the international team over here tend to cover a lot of the International roles that we have, frequently, the US recruiters will, will take on national roles, and they have to be well versed in Danish benefits, how to operate in Germany, hiring in Australia, like the same that we have to be in, you know, we can have us roles frequently, too. So as we're a very global orientated team. And I think it's just like, learn and find out and upskill yourself, you know, definitely had to learn the nuances of 401k, and things like that. But just again, we just don't have over here. So I would say keep the communication as honest and unregular, between you as you can.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yes, and a lot of respect I'm hearing for areas of expertise, where we can all learn from each other where we can contribute value where others might not be able to.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Definitely, and I'm pretty happy that the team I'm in you can literally just drop a slack. Have you got two minutes? Can we talk through this? And there isn't a silly question, in my opinion, when we're like recruiting at Pace globally, because there will be nuances. And I'd much rather that we foster that communication between us then inform the candidate incorrectly, for example. So yeah, definitely.

CAITLIN ALLEN: So switching gears a little bit, Julie to retention, a topic that's really top of mind for high growth leaders right now, as the new year starts in attrition can tend to be high. And while we're in a shifting economy where, you know, growth at any cost is not something that's as much of a charter that business leaders are using. Talent Acquisition, of course, is not responsible for retention. But it is responsible for getting the right talent in the door and starting off at an employee's experience such that they're, you know, maybe more likely to be a happy and productive and empowered and contributing team member. So long preamble to ask the question, which is once companies like Dataminr have a really good employer brand, what can they do to then turn that value inward inside their company to improve retention?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yes, and like you say, definitely slightly outside of TA is that once a talent is in that given, I'm an employee and I want to stay and develop PII, I think one of the things that you should do is, is always be mindful of progression and career pathing. And the opportunities that you offer those individuals, because it's hard hiring individuals, and once you have them in the business, you really want to work hard to retain that talent. So I think Dataminr has a lot of things in place, no matter where you are, globally, we all have access to a professional development fund, which you can spend on your own learning certifications. And also, I think, our DNI team as well works really hard to make sure that everyone has that sense of belonging and that you can be authentic and Dataminr. So we have quite a robust ERG network that has been built by our di team and everyone is encouraged to come and be part of those ERGs or join an erg session and this listener absorbs. So I think if you can get that going and you can get a strong values within the core of the employee base, then hopefully people want to stay and keep keep developing. But it is definitely an issue because like we are taking talent from other organizations, there's always a company that's probably look, being our top performers as well. So it retention is tough.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yeah, yeah. Love the balance there have dedicated resources for learning as well as dedicated resources for diversity, equity, inclusion belonging to thank you for that answer. Maybe rounding out the the conversation with the last few questions. So I've read rumors that Dataminr may register for an IPO at some point, obviously don't won't be asking you to comment on that. The The point being, you're in hyper growth. So I'm curious, are there any extra implications that hyper growth and a potential exit has for your team strategy and execution these days?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: I think if that is the route that happens, and again, like you say, it's difficult for me to comment on on a potential IPO. But we're all pretty aware that being a private company, and being a public company, there's there's different things that you have to be aware of. So in terms of from a TA perspective, I think that we're trying to be as well rounded and robust as possible. So like I say, we've built an ops function, we've built a sourcing function recently, we've got ca marketing, just trying to make sure that we can deliver on the on the hypergrowth, for us to be successful and get to that point, hopefully. But in terms of, of our strategy, we just, we keep wanting to be here to support the business and support that growth. Whether where that gets us in in the timeframe, who knows that for now, your international expansion is pretty top of mind. And that will that means that my team are going to be busy, and it's exciting. It's exciting going into new into new markets. So yeah, who knows?

CAITLIN ALLEN: Absolutely. 100%. I like that that answer? It's basically let's have the right specific talent in place so that people can be really excellent individual contributors, with the expertise that's needed and hypergrowth but still operating as a cohesive unit as a cohesive team with kind of one dream so to speak. So love that answer. I guess one one question I have is actually a personal one. Again, Julie. Our listeners all need to hire recruiters or talent acquisition experts at some point you And you yourself have a fairly substantial in house and agency experience, both as a consultant and an operator. And so I'm curious how that experience from your perspective or in your opinion, contributes to setting you up to make talent acquisition strategic like, is that part of the profile of a successful recruiter?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: I think it can be, I guess, you own like, for me, that has been a great way, again, of making me really well rounded. So I did some, the hard years and on the agency side where it was a hustle, and they were incredibly wise and incredible lows. And that agency side I believe, gave me a lot of tenacity, especially when I had my my own business. For several years where I took the leap, I did it and I have to like hustle like crazy, basically, to be successful as a one woman, recruitment agents see, and I think that side of my profile has always given me the appreciation for like how a salesperson would operate and given me that confidence to have the seat at the table, even if inside I was probably thinking I shouldn't be there. And then the in house side, I think it's been incredible for me to see like how much work and in internal ta function puts in to hiring. I think on the agency side, it's very, you make your hire you move on, you make next hire in once you're in house, like you can't go anywhere on decide not to work on that role, you have to fill the roles that are that are assigned to you. And it's just, it's so much more than just filling roles. It's being that advisor, having all of the strategic elements of ops and marketing and strategy around how, okay, we've got to hire someone in Germany, how are we going to do that, like, there's so many things that are involved with from an in house function that I didn't realize when I was on the agency side. But I do think that agency edge personally, for me, has been really helpful. And there's still highs and lows in internal ta as well, by the way, isn't always smooth sailing,

CAITLIN ALLEN: right? Of course, but you great, you raise a really, really great point. And actually, it's resonating for me personally, because I also was on the agency side and was an entrepreneur that started my own kind of one woman show and then it grew to 15 before I sold it and, and I do think that that kind of hustle, the grit it, it gets cultivated in that environment where you have to make things work, because you need to get paid, you have to think strategically you have to be assertive, you have to have a voice at the executive table in order to push forward a deal, so to speak. And then you also have to be really good at delivery and have attention to detail in order to kind of like re earn that business. But you know, for me to once I once I went in house, there were so many steep learning curves, because it is a very there, the skill sets need to show up very differently. And so I think you make a really good point of how there's, there's a whole lot that the value that comes from having been on the outside and on the inside and the benefits are equal, so to speak, although very different. So second to last question. You have a as a mother in a professional, pretty creative working situation. And you've extended that same opportunity, I think to several members on your team. Can you tell us what work life integration means to you as both a working mother and a woman in technology?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Yes, so I have quite an unusual setup. A Dataminr in that I work a four and a half day week. So I have a half day off every week. And to be honest, I spend that with my with my four year old daughter so she was tiny when I joined Dataminr and it was really important for me to have that that time with her and sort of ring fence before she goes to school. Just to It sounds crazy, but just to like drink her up basically and then just have that that time with her. So yeah, I I made my VP really aware that like is really important to me. And luckily I've got that flexibility and I think you know, probably not not everyone in data mining realizes that I do four and a half days. Because you just have to be really organized and it makes sure that your work. Yeah, it's working. And again when I hired a technical recruiter into my team, she was just coming off maternity leave. She also had a an older child as well and She asked if she could do if there would be an opportunity to come in on four days a week. And for me, like she was the right candidate for my team. I asked the question, and we made it happen. And again, she has all day on a Friday with with her youngest daughter. And I think it's important to me, because I imagine what it was like for her to even ask that question in the interview process, because I, I've already been there and asked the question. So I think it's, it's, I understand it's not possible for every role in every company, especially if you're, if you're scaling and resources are tight, but I will be forever thankful that I have had this setup and that I've been able to extend it someone else on my team.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Yes, yes. And I love that you've paid that gift forward. I think that that really underscores the value that you've derived from it, in my opinion. Well, Julie, I cannot believe we are nearing the end of our time already. But we are and thank you. Yes. Valuable. I'd love to close out with the question. We ask all of our guests at the very end, which is, you're considering the quite sizable amount of great information you've shared and tips you've shared if our listeners or HR leader listeners, were going to apply one thing that you've said today, what would it be?

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: It would be as a TA function, be a business partner and not an order taker. That that would be my in my opinion, that is the ethos of a successful CIA team, show up and be the business partner.

CAITLIN ALLEN: And that really captures it. You're right. Well to our listeners, don't forget to give us a five star rating and email podcast at open If you have ideas for topics or guests. Thank you so much for tuning in today. And Julie, thank you again so much.

JULIE FARR-VOLLER: Thank you. It's been amazing.

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