Building our Marketing Team
I am blessed that I get to put a lot of my more radical thinking about recruitment into action at Quin, and shaping our next two hires, who will take our marketing function to the next level, has been a dream. Vanessa Bolosier, our Head of Marketing, is so committed to hiring for potential, I didn’t even have to explain to her why I wasn’t asking about years of experience or including everything in a boring job description shopping-list. We just cracked on with talking about what’s in the heads and hearts of the people we want to meet. And as Vanessa talked about human-centred marketing, I realised that what we do here is human-centred recruitment.
Quin has 12 employees, and we’re still the size where there is heaps of opportunity to get involved in all sorts of things. You have to balance painting a picture of what we’re doing (which can make people think you need them to have done all of those things) and giving people enough detail to know if they’re headed in the same direction as we are. We shaped our two new humans into a visual storyteller and one more focussed on words, but we’re excited to see how we end up balancing the capabilities we need to execute the plan. It’s going to mean that our interview days have to work really hard for us. We cannot wait to build the in-office scenarios that we’ll ask people to work on at our interview days, so we can see people’s brilliance in action.
We have a track record of shaping roles to the person. Esme Shanley, our Head of Delivery, was recommended to us by a former colleague. When I met her for an exploratory coffee, neither of us had any idea how quickly she’d be offered, nor that she’d end up doing half of the things she does today. Originally hired to run our operations, our Innovate UK Grant and create our research programme, Esme quickly moved into a much larger role, essentially owning our overall delivery model.
We call it start-up moxie; the force of character, determination and humility you need to get things done in an environment that’s not yet fully formed. We want two marketers who bring that, who can easily switch context and don’t get hung up on whether or not something is their job, as long as they know they are being useful. We see this as our “be excellent” value in action.
It’s rare that you have a thoughtfully articulated marketing strategy, sky-high ambitions and unlimited salary budget. Of course we only have two of the three, so we’re aiming to hire marketers who are earlier in their careers. It will give Vanessa the chance to switch gears, spend a little more time working strategically, and a little less time editing videos, as well as give her mentoring muscles a work-out. All of this is happening in a constantly-changing, resource-constrained environment. Vanessa really does edit the videos (and I loved making her life better by suggesting a tool that made collaborating with the videographer much quicker.)
It feels odd to say this, but we already know our marketing plan will not be successful without these two people. Many companies, in a situation like this, would double down on experience and ignore hiring for potential. But as we continue to get to know the amazing, unique people who use Quin, and as we learn more about them, we know that only the lifelong learners (and unlearners) will be able to stretch themselves, make mistakes, challenge us to think differently and learn as they go. We’ll train the right people so that they can help us with our company value of experimenting to ‘find truth’.
Many Quinners come from unusual backgrounds, that’s how we make sure we keep our thinking fresh. Vanessa has an amazing professional track record and career. But after I watched her appearance on the Mel and Sue Show to launch her cookery book and browsed the inspirational Instagram accounts she runs (recruiting may be more like internet stalking than you thought) I saw the human beyond the CV. That’s what we want to see. There are very few companies solving an unsolved problem the way we are, so we can’t hire for experience. What we can do is hire people who want to be excellent, help us find truth and who will rock up to our office in Finsbury Park and show love every day.
Ah yes. Show love, our third value, and my personal favourite. For these roles, this where human-centred marketing comes in, and we are far more interested in people who are driven to find out what makes their audience tick, than the brand or experience they bring. Everything we do is about making life better for our users, and anyone who joins the team is going to be fanatical about this. We cannot wait to start interviewing and hear what people have done to get to know their audience. I’ll probably get emotional, you have been warned.