In a tepid job market for senior talent, the ecommerce and startup sector is where the action is. An uptick in the sector led by a combination of factors including an improved funding scenario, increased M&A activity, skyrocketing mobile data usage and the coming-of-age of ecommerce and transaction models have driven companies to embark on bolstering their top decks with senior talent.
Be it Amazon, Flipkart, Swiggy, Paytm, OYO, Ola or Zomato at one end or startups that have just bagged their Series A, Series B rounds of funding at the other, search firms say they are seeing a 40-100% increase in such mandates over last year.
“Online sector hiring has picked up big time,” says Anuj Roy, managing partner, FIDIUS Advisory, adding his firm is currently running 13-14 mandates for senior talent, compared to seven-eight last year. At Bengalurubased Longhouse Consulting, mandates have doubled. From 30 in a quarter, they are now doing about 75, of which the bulk is from ecommerce.
The surge reflects the upswing in the domestic startup system, says Roy. “Sentiments are up,” he says.
Hiring has shot up in the last 6-7 months, with rough estimates suggesting nearly 350-400-plus senior hires across the ecommerce and startup ecosystem, say consultants. In the last week alone, OYO Hotels has appointed ex-IndiGo president Aditya Ghosh as CEO for India and South-Asia; Flipkart hired Smriti Singh as human resources head; MakeMyTrip got Vipul Prakash as chief operating officer (COO); InCred hired Rahul Bhargava as chief technology officer (CTO), Freshworks made two senior appointments while even smaller startups such as Doodhwala and Sattviko hired for CXO roles.
Everyone — from seed-funded companies to the unicorns — is on the prowl for top talent, say consultants. On the one hand, the likes of Flipkart, Amazon and Swiggy are hiring aggressively. On the other, the number of companies that have raised upwards of $50 million has gone up significantly.
“A lot of such companies are now building their teams because once you raise that much capital, you move from a startup culture to a professional-led one,” says Roy. There are also smaller startups who’ve raised their Series A, Series B rounds of funding and are confident of raising the next round.
Swiggy, which hired Vivek Sundar, its first COO and ex-Amazon employee Dale Vaz as head of engineering and data sciences in July, said it has scaled to support and enable its growth and expansion. “In the coming months, we will be doubling down on hiring the sharpest minds in the industry for senior roles in departments such as business, sales and technology, and for highly specialised roles in areas such data sciences and AI,” said Girish Menon, VP, HR at Swiggy.
An Amazon spokesperson said its hiring strategy continues to be robust across all levels and businesses. A recent ET story highlighted how Flipkart was planning to hire senior talent in domains such as supply chain management, technology, marketing, human resources and product, notwithstanding the recent turmoil at the group, including Binny Bansal’s exit.
Fintech startup Lendingkart Technologies, which raised over $87 million in equity funding in February, hired Paroma Chatterjee as its chief business officer and Abhijit Jadhav as the VP of supply chain finance in October. “As companies scale up their business, there is a need to have a sturdy and future-focused leadership team. Today, startups are growing at a massive pace and thus it becomes relevant for them to have a leadership team that aligns with their vision, culture and goals so that they can together work towards achieving it,” said Harshvardhan Lunia, CEO at Lendingkart Technologies.
Anant Goel, CEO of grocery delivery platform Milkbasket, which raised $3 million in Pre-Series A round led by Unilever Ventures in January, concurs. “As an organisation grows, each vertical demand has to be overseen and managed by a senior representative,” says Goel, adding they are on the lookout for senior resources across operations, marketing and engineering.