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18 September, 2019 - 14:35 By Kate Sweeney

Graziano enters senior recruitment ring with a knockout tech proposition

Joe Graziano of Growth EQ

Former AstraZeneca talent spotter Joe Graziano has started his own executive search business in Cambridge focusing exclusively on high technology.

Graziano helped scour the globe for IT specialists for AstraZeneca having previously spent eight years with the highly respected Cambridge head hunter, Bailey Fisher.

There he was partner and lead on hi-tech and he is now founder and managing director of his new venture, Growth EQ.

He has almost 20 years’ experience spanning startups, SMEs and – most recently – leading global searches in AI, data enablement and digital for FTSE 100 corporate, AstraZeneca.

Graziano launches the new venture armed with a highly sought-after international network, comprehensive market knowledge and the robust practices honed in corporate HR to growth technology companies.

There are two key elements to the business – Executive Search and acting as a talent acquisition consultancy. He has hired crucial C-level staff for a range of technology businesses from as far afield as Singapore. Another key triumph was the recruitment of a group finance director with tech expertise to define a finance operating roadmap for a $30 million business unit in Cambridge.

Globally successful innovation hothouse Plextek is among his most prized contributors of testimonials.

Graziano is acutely aware of the fierce competition for talent among Cambridge Cluster technology businesses. He tells Business Weekly: “Where possible, companies need to have a strategic long-term view of their hiring needs. This way, the approach-to-market to attract talent can be far more proactive. 

“Growth EQ specialises in attracting board and senior-level individuals for tech businesses in growth mode. Therefore, a key part of our role is to develop ongoing pipelines of talent aligned to our clients’ business needs. 

“This means that we maintain long-term relationships with technical leaders and commercial leaders – whether they are looking for a new role now, or in the future.

“Additionally, companies that thrive will be the ones that recognise and understand what matters to tech talent beyond a competitive salary: company culture, attractive working environments and flexible or remote working, for example, with the last point becoming more and more key. 

“Corporate organisations globally are adopting flexible and remote working because they recognise it is essential to attract the best people. 

“I fully appreciate the importance of working together, especially within smaller teams and that there will always be certain roles which demand face-to-face facilitation, but there is a lot of good technology available that enables remote working and can help promote a healthier work-life balance for its users. 

“Employee wellbeing is a common focus area in both large corporates and those startups trying to break the mould.

“Organisations must also do all they can to ensure that their hiring processes are efficient and effective. The focus should always be on forming strong relationships with prospective employees, and ensuring that they have a frictionless, well thought-out onboarding experience when you come to hire them. 

“Onboarding is a critical step in the hiring process – especially in the current political landscape. It ensures that new employees are set up for success which has a direct impact on retention and high performance.”

The ongoing wrangles over Brexit pose another problem for Cambridge tech companies having to comb several continents for the best people.

Graziano says: “Regarding Brexit, there’s no silver bullet to the challenges we are faced with here. Throughout my career, I have hired a number of people to the UK from different parts of the world; if our businesses require skillsets or expertise that are not available within the UK then we must look beyond. 

“It’s true that the UK’s immigration system post-Brexit remains unclear but the UK already has a number of robust working visa programmes in place which allow citizens of places like the US, Australia, South Africa and everywhere in between to live and work here. 

“It’s not a huge leap to imagine these programmes being expanded to facilitate the shape of the UK and its political landscape post-Brexit. This underlines my previous point on robust onboarding processes. 

“What I am certain of is that diversity fuels innovation and it’s our diverse workforce that makes the UK a world leader in technology.”

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