A series of conversations across various internal setups goes a long way in helping you pick the right talent
While working at Bain & Company, I noticed that a lot of my colleagues would queue up to view the stack of menu cards in the cafeteria during lunch hour. We couldn’t take the menus to our desks since people generally lost them, which caused inconvenience to everyone. To save them all that trouble, I just scanned the menus and put them online. This small intranet website got a substantial number of hits from people within Bain. That is when I realized that a business could be built around scanned menus, and thus the very early form of Zomato was born.
My then colleague Pankaj (Chaddah) came on board and soon we went live with menus for 1,200 restaurants in Delhi NCR in July 2008. By the end of that year this had gone up to 2,000. I don’t think I set out with an agenda to be to be a leader or to be in this industry in the first place. I am an engineer: I guess the tech aspect comes easily to me. Also, I have always been entrepreneurial by nature. Zomato was just driven by a need that we had. The first few years, after we quit our jobs, were fine: we were focused on putting together a strong tech product that was bridging a gap in the market. Things became intense once we raised some funds and hired a team. That kind of intensity and sense of urgency makes sense if you’re solving a problem. The experience of going from zero to coverage of 22 countries has been exhilarating, but I believe our biggest achievement lies in building an exemplary team and retaining, even today, the culture we set out with.
We have been very lucky to have a team of over 1000 Zomans, most of who share the company’s vision. While hiring we prioritize a cultural fit, which for us means someone with the right attitude and willingness to pick up the skills we require as we scale up. Some personal attributes, such as a keen ability to learn new things, being a people person, honesty or self-motivation are difficult to train into people. We do not judge people on any skillsets except those which are tech-related, since we strongly believe that any skill can be acquired with the right attitude.
Hiring someone isn’t simply a predefined interview process. A series of conversations across various internal setups goes a long way in helping you pick the right talent. Every company should have their own make-or-break factors when it comes to identifying a hire. For Zomato, it is zeroing in on someone who fits well within the organizational culture. A potential Zoman must have a can-do attitude, be willing to get their hands dirty, have a likeable personality, and must share the organization’s values. Over time, we’ve come to realize that there are two kinds of people – the ones who want to learn, and those who don’t. If, as a community, we can bring together the former, we’ve won half the battle. Probably one of our biggest areas of learning has been our hiring process. In the early days, we were hiring rapidly.
Looking back, I think we should have hired at a slower pace, with a more thorough process. This is something we keep emphasizing on. Today, over six years down the line, I know we’ve made good progress. From tapping social media to launching trial weeks and leadership programs, we are trying it all to find the right talent. We’ve realized that often, to find the right talent, you need to use some slightly non-traditional means of hiring. Our biggest challenge right now is to continue expanding our teams at the same pace as the company while getting the right talent to come aboard.
(As told to People Matters)