IPO startup: How Opower’s talent development strategy has changed through growth

“It was incredible, I’ll probably never go back there, because seven years of hard work went like this: It was an incredible day.”

Dawn Mitchell, Head of Talent Acquisition at Opower, reported on her IPO on April 4, 2014.

Apart from the receptions in all offices, including champagne spray stations, the day was a turning point for Opower.


The transition from a start-up to a listed company has inevitably changed corporate culture, including recruitment.

At San Francisco’s 2014 Talent Connect, Dawn shared the company’s journey.

Pre-IPO: A Recruitment Culture
“Opower was based on references,” says Dawn. “Our founders have built the management team out of their networks, and these leaders have built their teams from their networks.”

“The CEO has made it clear that recruitment is our top priority and that, in particular, our recommendations are our benchmark and we talked about recruiting at every company meeting.”

In addition, the company hosted “Talent Tuesdays” every month, where employees spent the afternoon lunching actively seeking top talent on their LinkedIn networks. (See how Mulesoft uses reference brokers as well.)

In preparation for the IPO, Opower:
1. Awakened his recruiting team from nine to 27:
Opower’s management expects the company to grow from 400 to 800 employees. After reviewing previous recruitment skills and understanding what we needed for recruitment, they planned where we should grow and found the number 27.

“If we could do it again, we would have completed some of these 27 full-time recruiters with contractors,” says Dawn. “We went from 400 to 600 employees instead of 800. That’s still a huge amount, but the number of employees from 9 to 27 was probably too high.”

2. Recruitment of specialists:
Opower wanted to find recruiting agents who work in a listed company and have expertise in areas such as sales and technology. “The company has seen a shift in recruitment and these people have gained credibility by hiring managers like we’ve never had before,” says Dawn. “They helped shorten the time in which we had to fill critical areas.”

3. Adopt a structured approach to the survey.
“In startup mode everyone would check in the office,” says Dawn, “but that would not work if we were scaled and we need to provide managers with a tool to do the new thing.” Interview with the special talent we were looking for “.

The Dawn team has implemented two elements of the Who method to make more consistent and focused interviews:

A dashboard. Like an advanced job description, the dashboard describes the desired results of the role and the qualities required to achieve those results.
Best rating. This one-and-a-half hour structured interview asks a series of questions about work style and history.
The team has also developed a case study in which candidates can get an idea of ​​the typical customer situation and how they express the Opower language.

4. Add a procurement team
The team wanted to build a pipeline for the next wave of adjustment to reduce our time. For that reason, they decided to add a procurement function.

“But our business was still a little volatile and our needs were constantly changing,” said Dawn. “In the end we used the sourceurs for very difficult tasks that often attracted them at the last minute, it was very frustrating for them and they did not have the desired effect.” If we had to do it again, we would have done more to give it. ”

5. Establishes a role as an employer brand.
“We knew that we would get a lot of attention and pressure on the IPO, so we wanted someone to benefit from it and strengthen our presence from the perspective of the employer’s brand,” said Dawn.

Here’s an example of a video that focuses on sales talent:

With the recruiting team deadlocked, Dawn and the team found it useful to have someone to help manage their brand. As a result, its Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn subscribers have grown exponentially during this time.

“Now that things have calmed down and we know where we want to invest, we’re building a stronger strategy for the employer brand, including the value proposition of our employees,” says Dawn. “Because we are a very different company than the pre-IPO, we have to do it for both our employees and our recruiter.”

6. Focused on the analysis:
We found someone in the team who was passionate about metrics. This helped them track their successes and failures and lead more data-driven discussions with the company.

The team has conducted tests in the following areas:

Sales compensation. The team began recruiting talent for enterprise software distribution, but their pay did not match the market. Working with the Internal Remuneration and Commercial Services team, they were able to assess how to achieve a better target income.
Attitudes in the past Dawn and his team analyzed profits and losses as well as the companies that recruited the best and worst achievements.
New talent markets. While OPower was in start-up mode, most of the main tasks were in headquarters. “But a sales team, for example, needs to be regionalized, and that’s the first time we’ve done it,” says Dawn. “We needed to evolve in areas we’d never discussed before and that we need for those markets.”
Now that they have a baseline analysis, the team plans to understand trends over time, especially if they have plenty of time to complete. “Our new ATS, Greenhouse, is an important part of this growth – we can tailor group work processes and analyze really important indicators,” says Dawn.

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