Building High Growth Companies in Nigeria: Finding Strategic Talent

It’s generally agreed that there are thousands of eager candidates looking for jobs in any particular month in Nigeria. While there may be abundant human resources for most jobs requiring just a certain level of competence there seems a severe shortage of strategic talent for the high growth fast paced young tech companies of today.

By strategic talent I do not mean just skilled persons such as developers, designers etc. I mean people who possess the innate talent and mind power to think up and implement growth ideas, process strengthening and product development initiatives. People who don’t need to be led by the hand and spoon-fed information by the founders. It seems among our younger candidates these days all you get is a whole lot of people waiting to be told line by line what to do.

Getting fairly competent people to punch in data and handle mundane repetitive tasks is hardly difficult. A startup company can easily get those sorts of people and streamline their more basic processes. What however breaks a company into the fast lane high growth league is its ability to find and attract young ‘superstars in waiting’ who possess huge amounts of initiative and strategic thinking and can grow with the right guidance into implementation wizards. Sadly enough these sort of young people are difficult to find.

In various interviews I’ve been part of this year alone all I see are young people who barely can think up ideas themselves, who expect a job where they will just do one or two tasks over and over every day and take home a sizeable pay packet. Young companies looking to grow quickly cannot afford to have too much of such kind of people.

In our subsequent hiring initiatives at Ngcareers we have developed a very sanguine way through which we hope to attract top quality young talent henceforth. This is necessitated by the strategic and very brave directions our business model will be taking. For a young company as ours with limited cash flow and a huge need to build a winning business model its either you take the pains to bring in top quality talent or you go for the average joes and keep your growth stunted.

Areas Where Young Companies Need Strategic Talent

Product Design and Engineering: Startups don’t need just people who can code or design features they are told to put up. They need people who can think like artists, engineers and marketers at the same time. It’s hard you find a young developer who can think on the business side of things and come up with product or site design ideas that will alter the market reception for the product positively. When you are pressed for growth you don’t need a guy who just waits to be told what to develop, you need a smart collaborator and idea generator.

Product Development: A young growing tech company needs people who even when they can’t code have incredible opportunity identifying abilities and great communication skills to convey their vision for new revenue generating ideas. Product development is such a key aspect of your company’s growth as it has direct impact on bottom-line. To put out great products and services especially for the web and mobile tech space you need talented people who can analyse a market, identify need gaps, design and brainstorm on elegant product or service solutions and even have valid ideas on the marketing side. For a young company struggling to remain in competition one stellar winning product pivot that takes the market by storm is enough to get the company on lane 1.

Marketing & Business Development: Need I say more. These are areas where brave, smart people are in dire need. We are no longer in a world of build it and they will come. You need proactive coup plotters who will snatch territories, shoot down the opposition, strike up strategic and far reaching alliances and develop initiatives that will wow the consumer and competitors alike. These lieutenants are difficult to find but you need them if you are going to leave your competitors behind in a blaze of wind.

Operations: As a young company you may get by with a competent team handling operations but there are times when your lack of strategic talent in day to day operations will hit like a big sack of shit. Young companies need very efficient operations as a foundation to the growth they expect. You need data officers for instance who have initiative when they encounter information they aren’t used to. You need administrative staff that isn’t afraid to ask questions and use the answers to creatively solve related problems that may occur in future.

To get these sorts of people is like going in search of diamonds; they mostly come as rough diamonds and when you shape the diamonds you’ve got yourself an elite team of performers.

It has to be a company goal to find and attract strategic talent. To do that you will have to tear up the rule book on recruiting and ignore those bureaucratic patterns everyone else is parroting. I will write more on that very soon.

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