February 15, 2024
February 20, 2024

Accelerate Executive Hiring: Revolutionising Leadership at CareerFoundry

Paula Moniz

A few months ago, driven by a robust partnership and a shared commitment to reshape CareerFoundry's C-Level team, the Acelr8 Executive Team embarked on a transformative mission to place talent for key leadership positions, including Chief Product Technology Officer (CPTO), Chief Revenue Officer (CRO), and Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). This journey into the dynamic edtech industry posed unique challenges that required a tailored approach to recruitment.

Headquartered in Berlin and with more than 4000 students, CareerFoundry (CF) is an online school with a clear mission: make technology careers accessible across the globe. The collaboration with CF went beyond conventional hiring processes, demanding a deep integration with the leadership team and innovative solutions to address their distinct needs. This article delves into the challenges and needs encountered during this process, illustrating how the collaboration with CareerFoundry enabled the successful hiring of top talent.

The Challenges and Our Approach

Chief Product Technology Officer

For the CPTO role, the objective was crystal clear — to identify a professional who can lead the Product and Engineering teams, leveraging cutting-edge AI technology to revolutionise CareerFoundry's products and platform. As the Acelr8 Executive Team embarked on this search, they encountered some challenges specific to this role:

Mismatch on Priorities: Initial discrepancies arose in defining priorities for the role, with differing opinions on whether the emphasis should lean towards technical engineering processes or product-focused innovation.

👉 Acelr8’s approach: Interviews were conducted with key stakeholders, including the CEO and multiple tech and product team leaders, to comprehensively understand their needs. Following this, collaboration with the team recalibrated and identified the true priorities for the role: a product expert with a relevant tech and AI background to spearhead innovation within the team.

A blend of 3 Skillsets: Identifying a candidate with a balanced proficiency in product, technology, and AI expertise posed a considerable challenge.

👉 Acelr8’s approach Given the specificity of this search, the Acelr8 Executive Team engaged in a comprehensive exploration of industry-specific platforms, leveraging connections in niche communities. Additionally, collaboration with industry experts created a targeted search, ensuring that the identified candidates possessed the precise combination of product, tech, and AI skills essential for the role.

Managing Multiple Stakeholders: Coordinating with various stakeholders, each with distinct schedules and commitments, presented an ongoing challenge.

👉 Acelr8’s approach: The Acelr8 Executive Team fostered a close relationship with the CareerFoundry hiring team. Emphasising transparency and open communication channels, they established a collaborative framework. Recognising the significance of hiring a C-level team, efforts went beyond traditional coordination. Schedules were synchronised, regular check-ins were organised, and detailed progress reports were provided. This ensured a seamless flow of information and showcased a commitment to aligning efforts with CareerFoundry's strategic objectives.

Chief Revenue Officer

The aim for the CRO was to find a strategist to lead Sales, Go-To-Market & B2G teams to manage and oversee revenue and growth within the business. In this search, the Acler8 Executive Team encountered some obstacles:

A small Total Addressable Market: for this role, finding a professional with a suitable seniority level and revenue experience in Berlin was extremely difficult.

Diverse Sales Experience: one of the biggest challenges for this search was to find a professional with a mix of experience of B2C, B2G, and B2B sales strategies.

👉 Acelr8’s approach: To address these challenges, extensive market research was conducted within the edtech sector and B2C startups. The focus expanded beyond the edtech sector, delving into companies outside this domain to understand their experiences with B2C and B2G schemes. This comprehensive approach not only provided a nuanced understanding of the landscape but also contributed significantly to the successful placement of leaders

Find common ground with mixed views: CareerFoundry involved multiple internal stakeholders to guarantee objectivity in the process of hiring their C-Level team. That meant taking into account different points of view about the candidates that the Acler8 Executive Team had to manage and making them converge into one final decision.

👉 Acelr8’s approach: A pivotal strategy that significantly aided efforts was the involvement of the investor board towards the culmination of the process. By incorporating their insights and fostering their buy-in, not only was a valuable external perspective added, but alignment among internal stakeholders was facilitated, streamlining the decision-making process for the final candidate selection.

Chief Marketing Officer

For the CMO role, the aim was to find a passionate leader willing to take ownership of the marketing strategy and leverage AI technology and automation to unlock new ways of working. Finding the ideal candidate brought certain challenges:

Confidentiality: When the role kicked off, the Acler8 Executive Team was tasked to start the search confidentially, which made them change their outreach strategy, being more reliant on their network and also obligated them to be extremely careful when talking to external candidates and the internal CF team members

👉 Acelr8’s approach: To guarantee confidentiality standards, the Acler8 Executive Team refrained from disclosing the client's name when reaching out to potential candidates. This discreet approach safeguarded sensitive information and allowed navigation of the recruitment process with a heightened level of discretion and professionalism.

Seniority Mismatch: Some hiring team members had different expectations about the seniority of the candidates, creating a need to realign priorities towards the years of experience candidates presented

👉 Acelr8’s approach: Similar to the approach taken with the CPTO, the Acelr8 Executive Team addressed the challenge of defining appropriate seniority by collaboratively aligning with the leadership team and marketing leaders. This involved comprehensive discussions to establish clear expectations and ensure a harmonised understanding of the desired level of seniority, contributing to a more cohesive and effective hiring process.

Additionally, for all the roles hired, the emphasis was on a forward-thinking process, where the interviews prioritised skill-based hiring and potential value, aligning with CareerFoundry's innovative approach. This approach to forward-thinking methods expanded the market scope beyond the exclusive focus on Edtech.

The collaborative journey with CF addressed the distinctive challenges in hiring their C-level team and delivered tangible, quantifiable results that underscore our commitment to excellence. These challenges served as catalysts for innovative solutions, showcasing our adaptability and strategic acumen, while the close collaboration with the CareerFoundry team, emphasising transparency and proactive communication, laid the foundation for a trust-filled partnership.

The impact extended beyond successful placements in the form of numbers:

  • The hires for the CPTO, CRO and CMO were achieved within a 5 months-timeframe
  • We got an average client NPS of 8.6 out of 10 across all roles
  • For the three roles, our average time-to-fill rate was 78 days, and the average time-to-hire was 37 days
  • We proudly brought 50% female candidates into the hiring process for both the CPTO and the CMO, showcasing a commitment to diversity. Notably, female candidates for the CPTO displayed a remarkable 46% reply rate, surpassing industry expectations for engineering roles
  • We got a 100% success ratio, closing all three candidates with first-time offers, underscoring the precision and insight applied throughout the recruitment process

This journey is a testament to the power of collaboration, strategic thinking, and a shared commitment to excellence. As we celebrate the achievements, we recognise that the impact goes beyond recruitment—it contributes to the continued success and innovation of CareerFoundry. This partnership stands as a referent, illustrating the potential when expertise, dedication, and vision converge to redefine leadership and propel organisations toward their greater aspirations.

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