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How The Lab17 built Shippit's internal talent capabilities during an unprecedented stage of growth
"With this change in pace of growth you need to quickly establish appropriate processes for the shift in tempo."
Chief Operating Officer - Shippit
Cloud-based Shipping Software Platform For Ecommerce
2014, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Sydney, Singapore, Manila
EMPLOYEES AT TIME OF PUBLISHING
As for many, 2020 started off in an unusual manner for Shippit. As COVID reared its ugly head, Shippit actioned its fiscal responsibility and implemented a recruitment freeze.
Redundancies had to be made (fortunately most employees were later re-hired), and they focused their one person TA team on looking after existing employees.
"We were having a huge downturn in the economy that would seriously impact our customers."
Shippit’s COO, Mat Lawrence, looked back at that period which held a mix of uncertainty alongside opportunity, 'We were having a huge downturn in the economy that would seriously impact our customers,' he said, 'and at the time there was a prediction of a short-lived rise in online shopping, but what actually occurred was a new baseline for the industry - people began shopping online that had never done so before,' Mat exclaimed. 'We grew by approximately three times our normal volume, running with a much smaller team.'
During this short period of time, the eCommerce industry experienced an acceleration rate of +5 years
Shippit had a lot of evaluation to do. 'We held off on hiring until we had a better understanding of the situation,' said Mat. 'Our main fundamental was: let’s not bring anyone into the business that we can’t sustain - we don’t want to hire anyone that we can’t keep employed.'
'Upon making the decision to start hiring again, we considered collaborating with The Lab17 because we were looking at an aggressive growth phase,' he said. 'Our key driver to partner with them was a big one - whether we could commit to growing the business at a rate faster than we could handle internally,' Mat stated. 'During this time we also determined that we would launch our series B capital raise, being confident that we could achieve this due to the interest in the market.'
These factors cemented Shippit’s decision to engage with The Lab17. Mat confirmed that, 'Yes, we believed we would be growing quicker than what we could handle internally - even though at that point in time we were growing at a healthy rate, we wanted to grow beyond those capabilities.'
"If you’re growing faster than your internal capabilities, you’ll start experiencing things such as poor candidate experience, you’ll hire the wrong fit, there’ll be bad onboarding, and it will choke the existing team with the number of interviews and processes - we wanted to avoid all of these pain points."
The Lab17 joined Shippit at the start of August 2020 and set out some clear goals for an initial two month partnership
Make the key hires to ensure the company could effectively scale - requiring those that understand the Shippit mission, meet the functional and cultural standard and will enable the company to scale. Number one priority was a Head of People and Culture.
Establish and build employer brand initiatives and collateral.
Build an interview process which is refined and optimised for scale, including all documentation and training.
Build a Talent Acquisition reporting system with supporting documentation for all activities and processes.
Train the organisation on effective interviewing techniques.
Document decision making on the recommendation of a new ATS.
Partner with hiring managers and key stakeholders to define best-practice job descriptions, up-skill interview capabilities, make unbiased, well documented decisions, evaluate talent and problem solve candidate scenarios
Establish scalable processes for onboarding, as well as build ing scalable job descriptions that map to quarterly goals or onboarding period goals.
Head of People & Culture
Head of Customer Experience
Head of UX
People Operations Manager
People & Workplace Specialist
Talent Acquisition Lead
Talent Acquisition Manager
The Shippit team witnessed the immediate impact, progress made, and the quality of the hires - the partnership was extended for a further two months.
Mat comments on how the partnership with Lab17 was a good fit for this aggressive growth phase.
With this change in pace of growth you need to quickly establish appropriate processes for the shift in tempo: how you go about designing roles, forming definitions of roles, ensuring the people interviewing are set up for success - asking the right questions, assessing the right things. They need to know what's going on.
Candidly speaking, we would have been capable of doing this ourselves, but at a much slower pace and with significant opportunity cost for our existing team. Our internal recruiter was ready and able but we knew we needed more capacity. Beyond this, when we increased the pace, we wanted to make sure we were set up for long term success.
Mat identified early that the traditional method of talent outsourcing or agency engagement would not have suited Shippit for this phase.
I wanted and needed to instil the capabilities into our own team to sustain this hiring pace. We wanted to train the team on how to do well, and set up the processes, practises, and disciplines.
We needed to make the key hires and build the team to achieve these goals - bringing in a Head of People and Culture and the right TA’s internally to collaborate with The Lab17. We had to upskill our team to eventually be able to do this without The Lab17, and this type of partnership that we struck up worked incredibly well.
"Most importantly we were able to work with Lab17 on designing an approach that was specific for Shippit’s needs. This wasn’t a one size fits all line of action - instead we made changes tailored to our values, our culture, and designed to extend our existing capabilities.”
Set up for success
The Lab17’s Lead Talent Acquisition Manager, Cloë Stanbridge, elaborates on how Shippit have been set up for future success in their TA space.
In partnership with the internal recruiter and Mat, we built out a solid foundation, better suited for the higher volumes of hiring in terms of processes, systems, people and standards.
Shippit now has comprehensive interview processes documented in both their ATS and Confluence which is easily scalable. We ran detailed interview training with the team, and closely coached a Shippit team member to run this training in the future - ensuring everyone continues to be upskilled.
We hired key players and strong leaders who had in depth experience, raising the bar and setting high expectations.
Shippit obviously wanted to embed their values and culture into every single hire, ensuring it wasn’t diluted during this aggressive growth stage. In place there was a final interview for every candidate that was completed by one of the two founders.
Given the speed and scale they were experiencing at the time, this didn’t make sense commercially. So we created an interview called the ‘Values Interview’ which replaced the final round for candidates. We curated questions and outcomes based on the founder’s values and company culture, ensuring candidates were aligned with Shippit’s values, and would thrive in their environment.
We then went on to create and train the ‘Values Interview team’, who lived and breathed the company values and were able to deliver these interviews - this provided a great growth opportunity for the team.
If you would like to find out how The Lab17 can be your strategic partner on your scaling journey, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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