Rapid Hire

Inside the recruitment process of VentureDive, the company that developed Careem’s technology stack

Maryam Dodhy Written by Maryam Dodhy · 5 min read>

In the summer of 2016, VentureDive gained a lot of traction among Pakistan’s tech and startup circles. Careem, the Middle Eastern ride-hailing giant, had just acquired a one-third chunk of its software development team in a hefty deal that included both cash and equity. However, before this news broke, the team at VentureDive had been at work for quite a few years.

In 2012, when Atif Azim and Saad Fazil co-founded VentureDive, they were two former Stanford and MIT grads, with Silicon Valley experience up their sleeves. The culture of innovation that they witnessed there resonated very deeply with them and one of the primary reasons why VentureDive was started was to introduce that culture in Pakistan. In the five years since its launch, the company has garnered a strong team of over 200 people working in offices based out of Karachi, Lahore, and Dubai. It has a strong portfolio and provides services like Mobile/Web Development, User Experience, Product Strategy, Enterprise Applications, and Design Consultancy.

Last year, Pakistan Software Exchange Board (PSEB) named VentureDive as a ‘Leading IT Startup in Exports’.

Its major clients, other than Careem, include Service Market previously known as Move Souk – a courier service that moves everything from a single letter to an entire house and VisaJet – a premium jet-booking service for sitting presidents and monarchs. The company also has its own product called IslamicFinder, targeted toward Muslims living in the West to help them find a nearby mosque or halal eateries. However, software design and development isn’t the only service VentureDive provides. They provide consultancy services as well and one of their most notable clients is Dubai government’s Roads & Transportation Authority (RTA) to whom they are providing technical consultancy on the Expo 2020, which aims to be the biggest expo ever conducted in the world.

But as a person hunting for the right job, you’re probably more interested in how to get hired at VentureDive. So when I finally sat down to talk with the VentureDive HR, I had some burning questions as well, primarily how their critical recruitment process works and why their hiring rate is so low.

Breaking down the VentureDive Recruitment Process

On a Thursday afternoon, I dropped by at the VentureDive office in DHA, away from Lahore’s crazy hustle and bustle. I was greeted by Maleeka, an HR executive at the company and we settled down in their conference room with Wahaj, Head of the Recruitment team in Lahore and Zara, a recent hire in the Corporate Communications team. Sana Amin, Department Head for Talent Acquisition, joined via Skype. A diverse group of individuals, each of whom offered fascinating insights into the VentureDive hiring process and work culture.

VentureDive looks for people with exceptional analytical skills and the ability to think outside the box.

I had heard a lot about VentureDive’s meticulous recruitment process so I was naturally very curious to know how it worked. The company regularly puts up job openings on their website and social media platforms. Once an application is received, the HR team analyzes it very carefully. A person’s cover letter and resume are meticulously screened before the candidate is called for series of interviews. First, a candidate’s technical abilities are analyzed and they may be given a set of tasks to perform. Second, they go through an HR screening which tests their soft skills. Once the candidate gets a stamp of approval from the HR, they are passed onto a final interview with the technical leadership which then determines whether the person is sound enough to become a part of their team.

However, only 2% of the people who are interviewed actually end up getting hired.

This year so far the company has hired 24 fresh graduates – 9 from Lahore and 15 from Karachi. While the recruitment process is still on-going, the team did point out that they are facing a “reverse crunch problem” wherein there are numerous job openings on their website which remain unfulfilled. The company at this point is struggling to find the right set of candidates for technical and non-technical roles.

The ideal candidate must have both technical & soft skills

VentureDive’s team primarily consists of young people with the average age of 27 to 28 years. However, during the recruitment process, the HR has noticed that candidates either don’t have the right kind of technical skills and expertise VentureDive looks for or they may not be up-to-date with industry standards. This is a major reason why a seemingly good candidate may not get hired at VentureDive.

Before applying, job applicants need to ensure they fulfill the criteria that the company has outlined. Another thing people often forget is the importance of an immaculately designed CV and cover letter. “We have seen extremely disappointing resumes, not just from fresh graduates but from mid-career level individuals as well. This can negatively affect a candidates chances,” says Maleeka of her experience in the VentureDive hiring stream.

Successfully hired candidates enjoy competitive salaries, employee benefits, and go through trainings & certifications

Wahaj went on to tell me that when they interview a person for a particular job, they aren’t just looking for technical skills but their overall personality as well. A successful candidate is the one who has exceptional communication skills, the ability to explain themselves, is a strong team player, has good work ethics, integrity, and a positive attitude towards work.

Since VentureDive isn’t merely focusing offering cutting-edge software development, they have a strong focus on R&D as well, and this differs their hiring criteria from other companies. They don’t want people who are just good behind the screen. They want self-driven, energetic, and dynamic individuals who would be ready to take on any challenge.

“We want a mix of technical and personal skills in a candidate. However, a majority of the people don’t perform very well when we interview them. This in no way discounts the local talent but the problem is we aren’t able to find the right resource pool. We are currently strategizing to fix this problem by creating more awareness among the Pakistani people,” he went on to say.

Competitive salaries, certifications, and benefits

Once a candidate successfully passes through the critical hiring process, VentureDive takes the employee under their wing and vows to provide a personally and professionally nurturing experience. The company has an open-door policy, employees don’t work in segregated cubicles rather in co-working spaces, and can approach the management at any time to discuss their concerns.

Not only does VentureDive offer employees a handsome salary, they take it upon themselves to ensure they have a fulfilling work life. Employees are not just restricted to their own respective tasks but are involved in various development steps.

VentureDive inculcates an entrepreneurial mindset in their employees and its in-house hackathon called ‘InVenD’ urges employees to design and implement solutions for pressing problems.

Moreover, VentureDive sponsors technical certifications for its employees in technologies like Java, Android, and iOS, and send them to leading global conferences. Their employees have represented the company at events like Google I/O and the Growth Hackers Conference in California.

This isn’t it. VentureDive has sent its employees for external training conducted by institutions like the Pakistan Society for Training & Development (PSTD) and also holds invaluable in-house training for its employees in collaboration with external trainers.

VentureDive is a firm believer in supporting working women

The overall male to female ratio of VentureDive’s employees currently stands at 3:1 but the company is taking initiatives to ensure gender diversity at their workplace. Women are offered free Careem rides, paid maternity leaves, flexible work hours for working mothers, and equal work opportunities for all.

Moreover, VentureDive encourages its employees to think outside the box and inculcates an entrepreneurial mindset in them. Their in-house competition called ‘InVenD’ urges employees to design and implement solutions, with a strong focus on Design, which is a focal point in all services that the company provides. The company plans to turn this competition into a flagship inter-company hackathon.

As Pakistan’s IT industry strives to reach the $6 billion mark of exports by 2020, VentureDive aims to be at the forefront when that happens.

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Rapid HireA unique series to identify what technology organizations look for in a candidate, why there is a misalignment of expectations and how can we bridge the gap between academia and industry.

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Written by Maryam Dodhy
I love bringing to light stories of extraordinary people working in Pakistan's tech and startup industry. You can reach out to me through maryamdodhy@techjuice.pk. Profile