Case Study: Veeam Software, Singapore “We want to act like a start-up”
Author: Susan Tam
Speed is of the essence for a growing technology business – and that means getting recruitment right is vital
If Asian businesses are engaged in a breakneck war for talent, it’s in the technology industry where the battle is being fought most keenly. But someone obviously forgot to tell Julian Quinn. As vice president for Asia and Japan at Veeam – which has grown from humble origins a decade ago to become one of the top five data protection software vendors globally – Quinn has his pick of the brightest minds, he says: “We’re a high-profile firm in the market we operate in, and when companies grow this fast people naturally want to be associated and aligned with the market leader.
“There are many people who approach me or other staff members about opportunities, which is encouraging to see. It means our brand is very successful and that we’re continuing to build it on a global basis.”
The numbers bear him out. Headquartered in Switzerland, Veeam has around 2,000 employees globally and saw its 2015 revenues soar by 22 per cent to break the $500 million mark. It hopes to double that by 2018.
But revenue alone cannot explain the attraction. Veeam believes its core values and working practices – something the HR and recruitment teams have worked hard to explain and embed – ensure it gets the right people (it relies heavily on social media for hiring). And by constantly reinforcing how staff are stronger together, its operations are as effective as its recruitment.
Onboarding, naturally enough, takes in an immersive sweep through both internal processes and “the expectations we set for our high-performing teams”. The ultimate aim is to achieve ‘Veeam Speed’, a highly adaptive and fast-moving work ethic that is every bit as responsive as the best in the sector. It’s an ideal that Veeam’s leadership has to model too, says Quinn: “We operate speedy execution in all facets of our business. That means we don’t want people sat on decisions. We want to act with all the virtues of a start-up, which means fast, flexible and focused. When we carry our business card and meet customers, we have to be a consummate professional in all we do.”
Millennials, says Quinn, make ideal recruits given their energy and flexibility, but need to be seen as part of a diverse mix – something he embodies, having spent 30 years in technology working for Adobe, Netscape Australasia, Unisys and Borland Asia-Pacific. Veeam also leads the way on the employment of women in the sector: 60 per cent of its Asian staff (it is headquartered in Singapore but also operates in Malaysia and Hong Kong) are women, working across systems engineering and technical roles as well as sales and marketing.
It will need as much talent as it can get, of both genders, as it enters its newest market. The firm sees China, where the data protection market is expected to be worth around $120 million within two years, as a lucrative opportunity. It has appointed a female country manager, Joy Lu – who has more than 20 years’ executive experience in the data sector – to lead a new office in Beijing.
One of the keys to success in such a vast market will be retaining talent, and it’s here that Veeam believes it has the upper hand. The average turnover rate in China in 2015 was around 17 per cent, according to the 51job.com recruitment service, and technical specialists expect a minimum 9 per cent pay rise each year just to stay put. But Veeam has attrition of just 5 per cent and, although generous remuneration is part of the picture, Quinn says it’s a lot more complex than that.
The business supports charitable causes nominated by its employees, offering them a sense of empowerment and a tighter bond with the company. Flexible working is supported and staff are encouraged to pursue a global career with the business. And, crucially, a culture of what Quinn calls “mutual respect and feedback” is practised across the board, particularly when it comes to performance management.
For the HR lead, this means offering constructive feedback when it is due, praising excellent performance – and aligning it with reward strategies – and being tactful when improvement is required. Of course, he adds, the people you hire have to come in with the right expectations and attitudes. “If you don’t get recruitment right, it can be costly in terms of time and business impact. There is nothing worse than when a new employee comes in and we find there is a mismatch between our expectations and theirs.
“But if you look after your employees and you’re an effective leader, they just want to do the best for the team. And that’s when you know you’re doing things right.”
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Estimated overall level of representation of women in the Asian technology industry
Most recent estimate of proportion of Malaysian GDP accounted for by the technology sector
Percentage of Asian employers that fear skills shortages will hurt their operations this year, according to Hays