How to Choose And Hire a Great CEO for Your Startup Company?

Startups in the UAE quickly reach a stage where the potential for exponential growth in regional and international markets becomes visible. That is when the firms need to attract the right investors and make strategy changes and moves for increased market penetration. Hiring a CEO becomes essential to accomplish challenging business goals. If you plan to hire a CEO for your startup, find out how to go about the process. Would you need the assistance of CEO search firms? Find out all about hiring a CEO for a startup.

The UAE is considered a preferred destination for establishing startups in the Middle East. Dubai, especially, has reportedly “surpassed older, well-established, startup ecosystems like New York and Tokyo.”

The UAE’s Free Zones are attracting numerous expat investors, thanks to options available to them, such as tax advantages, low-cost startup options, sound infrastructure, and access to international trade routes.

With increasing interest from international investors and entrepreneurs in commencing a new business in the UAE, there is a huge potential for business growth in the region. One of the few challenges of a fast-growing startup is when to change the leadership structure.

The founder and the first management team of a startup often reach a stage where further expansion and growth requires deeper market knowledge, a priori knowledge base of assessing risks and taking profitable moves, strong strategic skills, in short, a new champion.

A CEO is a champion who can leverage his or her vision, experience, and ability to drive expansive growth to get the startup moving towards achieving new stages of growth. Hiring a CEO is one of the most challenging among top talent recruitment activities.

How to choose and hire a CEO for a startup in the UAE is what this blog is about. The first step is the activities that need to be done in the pre-hiring stage.

Pre-Recruitment Stages

Here are a few steps to ensuring that your startup in the UAE is hiring a CEO who is the best candidate for the position.

1) Form a Top-Level Committee For Supervising CEO Recruitment

It is essential to accord accountability and buy-in from key stakeholders in the top management. If the decision to hire a CEO for a startup becomes the sole responsibility and initiative of the founder of one major investor, the recruitment often leads to troubled waters – internal frictions, resilience, and lack of interest in following the new leader.

Creating a top-level committee of existing top management champions and involving them in all the key hiring stages paves the way for the recruitment of a CEO that gets internal acceptance. Also, the top management champions understand and accept the need for dramatic changes and become open-minded to the new ideas that the CEO will bring to the table.

2) Draft A Profile Detailing Key Performance Expectations From The Role

Decision-makers in many startups and small companies get into a habit of verbal exchange of information, and key decision-making is done during meetings. The absence of structured, written communication and information management is prevalent.

Before hiring a CEO, it is important to prepare a document that contains all information about who could be the best-suited candidates.

Preparing a CEO profile does not have to be a descriptive one. You could use Spreadsheets to record everything – personality traits, key knowledge areas, key experience types and industry exposure, practical insights, technology knowledge, market expansion track record, etc.

3) List Key Roles and The Duties and Responsibilities For Each Role The New CEO WIll Play

Once you have a detailed profile prepared, you can easily frame the key roles, duties, responsibilities, and expectations from the future CEO.

Depending on what type of CEO you think could fit the bill – someone who has 10-15 years’ market expansion experience or someone with superior technology knowledge and tech innovation-based business growth experience, or some other type of professional. Based on these insights, you can objectively note down the key duties and roles.

4) Hire a CEO Executive Search Firm

This is what an increasingly high number of successful startups have done – hire an executive search firm to find the best candidates for their company.

Experienced CEO search firms have interacted with thousands of CEO candidates across target geographies. Their CEO executive search professionals are well-versed with the best practices to be followed by a company when hiring this topmost ranking professional.

To hire a CEO for a startup company, taking the help of CEO search firms proves tremendously beneficial. The company can find the best candidates based on their search criteria within a short time. The agency also acts as an excellent mediator between the company and future CEO candidates, increasing the level of trust and credibility among candidates.

Search and Shortlisting Stage

1) Ask The CEO Search Firm You Hired To Conduct Market Mapping

Market mapping is a talent mapping activity that lets us know who are the best candidates in your industry segment in your target geographies, who are successful CEOs, or the most sought-after CEO candidates.

Getting the right insights from your industry and market and the kind of talent that is driving success and growth for many companies, you get a broader understanding of what your ideal CEO should be like to bring the results that you expect from him or her.

2) Revise The CEO Profile Based on Key Insights of Market Mapping

Your original draft CEO profile needs to be updated based on the insights you acquired through market research or market mapping. Create an ideal CEO persona based on the information and inputs. To hire a CEO for a startup for the first time, the right amount of research and people analytics could make a big difference to the outcomes.

3) Finalize A Detailed Search Criteria – Cover all Skills, Experience, Knowledge, Track Record, Etc.

Good CEO search firms excel at preparing a customized search strategy, approach and criteria. Their CEO search experts will prepare all that is necessary to help you identify the right search strategy and criteria. One essential part of the process is to list down all skills, experience, knowledge, and abilities for every kind of role the future CEO needs to play.

4) Assess and Screen Shortlisted Candidate List Provided by CEO Search Firm

Based on the finalized CEO search criteria, the CEO search expert will mine through the internal databases, external talent pools, and connections of the CEO search firm. Competent CEO search firms use the latest recruitment technology tools so that they can extract data of the ideal candidates, however long the list of requirements, within hours.

5) Study the CEO Hiring Trends in Your Industry

Before you start with the headhunting process, discuss and get to know the CEO hiring trends in your industry. You do not want to reduce the perceived value of your employer brand or your company’s outlook by not taking into account the industry practices related to hiring a CEO.

6) Frame a Recruitment Approach With Inputs From CEO Search Firm

Right from approaching the shortlisted candidates to the first conversation or interview and the final rounds of interviews, all the activities you conduct for hiring a CEO are shaped by your recruitment approach.

Do you want to reach out to potential candidates through custom-designed emails and employer branding materials? Do you want the CEO headhunter to script out the first presentation of your company? How are you going to handle the interviews? Deciding all these are part of the CEO recruitment approach.

CEO Hiring Stage

1) Select An Interview Format Well in Advance To Identify Key Abilities

With the help of the CEO search firm you hired, get the interview formats ready for each round of interaction. The weightage of points, the right kind of scoring system, candidate analysis formats – all these should be ready well in advance before you reach the actual interview stage.

2) Encourage An Interview Round Involving Presentations On Specific Points

CEO candidates are not your regular employees to whom you ask questions like why do you want to work at this company, what are your strengths, etc. These are a big NO.

How do you start with the first interaction? Many experts suggest that you could start with presentations. The candidate could be asked to prepare a presentation on some topic, and you could assess his or her abilities and understanding through the presentation.

3) Put in Place The Right Pitch and Employer Branding Materials To Attract The Right Candidates

When you are presenting your company to your future CEO candidates, an unprepared random approach would only lead to candidates underestimating and undervaluing your current champions and strengths. Work on the right pitch and company presentations, and communicate your goals very clearly with the right projections.

4) Select Background-Checked CEO Candidates For Final Round of Interview and Assessments

You have found some stellar candidates with amazing knowledge and dynamism that you value a lot. But you never know which one among them might be hiding some small detail of their past – a drug case, a fraud case, a money embezzlement case, etc. CEO search firms could assist in getting the right background checks done of the top 4-5 candidates you chose to consider.

5) Frame The Terms Of Offer Following Competitive Compensation Benchmarking

When you hire a CEO for a startup for the first time, compensation benchmarking could prove quite useful. You do not have to worry about whether your terms of the offer are off track, or maybe you are readying yourself to pay too much.

6) Select Candidates Following Careful Negotiations

The best way to negotiate would be to let an expert CEO headhunter handle the rough patch related to monetary compensation, benefits, profit-sharing, etc. The headhunter could skillfully find out what your chosen CEO candidates have in mind, and you get to know beforehand what their expectations are before you call them for the final interviews about compensation and the terms of the offer.

Alliance Recruitment Agency

Alliance Recruitment Agency in the UAE is one of the best companies offering comprehensive assistance for hiring a CEO. We have startup CEO hiring experts who have worked with many companies and facilitated their CEO recruitment processes.

If you are looking for an expert to hire a CEO for your startup in the UAE, find the best CEO headhunters at our agency. With hundreds of C-suite hiring projects completed, we definitely have got superior insights into making top executive hiring processes more objective, intuitive, and outcome-oriented.