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Should Startups Recruit People From Government Organizations?

Are govt sector candidates better at crisis management?
Should Startups Recruit People From Government Organizations?
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You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Flexible working hours, multiple job duties, flat hierarchy, unstructured payrolls, non-traditional office spaces – these are some broad characteristics that sum up a startup workplace. It’s not the traditional workplace, where you’ll have a structured job role; you could be handling programming and at the same time find yourself take up some of the admin duties of the office.

At early stages, a startup office could consist of two desks of a co-working space or afford a two-bedroom apartment inside a society. These could appear fancy to read, but such a setup comes with its own set of challenges and demands a lot of patience from an employee.

But does that bar startups from scouting people who have worked at a more structured workplace like a government organization?

Maybe not!

Entrepreneur India spoke to a couple of entrepreneurs and asked them about their experience of hiring a government employee for an important role at their startup.

Shubham, CEO at GrabOnRent, shared his reasons for hiring people from government organizations for his startup, which rents out items of regular usage such as appliances, gadgets and travel equipments. “He was well connected. It was advantageous for the startup for having him as a manager at (Kannada Speaking) supplier side,” Talking about another recruit, Shubham said, “We assumed that since he had been a part of a very structured organization, he would be a right fit to introduce structured process-systems for methodological operations at GrabOnRent. He came with a lot of experience in procurement and supply chain.”

For startups, native connect, local contacts and most importantly contacts at the government level make them eligible candidates.

“During the early days of Vedha Automations , the company which I had founded, I hired two executives with experience in Public sector. Their understanding and knowledge of what it takes for a large enterprise to work, structure of the company, people policies, work break down was very useful  . As a start up, I definitely wanted to learn how a large enterprise operates, and it was valuable to learn firsthand the challenges of large enterprise operations,” Shoaib Ahmed, President,Tally Solutions Pvt. Ltd said.

“The talent from the Government sector have good people management, crisis management skills since they have managed large workforces, cities / districts, critical infrastructure & projects,” Sanjay Krishnan, Founder and CEO of Lithium Urban Technologies, says.

Ex-army employees form great hires!

“We hired 3 people in the start up phase of our organisation and they continue working with us even today. Defense is a great sector to recurit from, we have a couple of retired defense and airforce officers working with us. Ex army guys are a great asset for us as they are disciplined and responsible. The team working with us can handle admin and staff management very well as they have been in management roles. Since ours is a small management team, their ability to shift roles at short notice is of utmost priority,” Dr. Sitaraman Sunderesan, co-founder and chief physiotherapist, at Physio-Be-Fit said. 

Cab-aggregators like Ola and Silicon Valley-based Uber have employed several ex-army men as drivers on their platform. These drivers are today micro-entrepreneurs who earn a sizeable income from this profession post retirement.

“We at Roposo would be quite interested in people from the defence services, who after their short service now wish to move onto the corporate world. They are great matches for project and product management roles as they come with great values and discipline, which are much appreciated and required at a startup as well. If an ex-government employee approaches us, we'd absolutely love to hire him if he fits the bill,” Mona Thangaraj, Head of HR, at Roposo said. Roposo is a fashion social network.

Special skills

Industry experts believe that government employees have the ability to tackle ground level situations tactfully, especially where it involves a large number of people and local populations.

Anjani Mandal, the co-founder and CEO of 4TiGO, said “For us it was their ability to manage a large number of people, manage a large program with multiple and diverse dimensions combined with the ability to mobilize a large team to work diligently and in a disciplined manner on defined processes. The idea is to put together a large pool of persons with the traits and relevant experience to transform a section of the industry from an undisciplined and unreliable set to a trusted and reliable bank of service providers,” 4TiGO brings various stakeholders of the logistics industry together using cloud-based technology and is backed by names like Nandan Nilekani and the Federal Bank.

Should you hire them, a big yes! But ...

Investors collectively agreed to the idea of having people from public sector background, provided they had the required skills and talent.

“I do not see a particular reason to hire or not hire simply because someone has been in government sector. Each individual needs to meet the criteria for the role for which he/she is being hired. Relevant experience, entrepreneurial flair and leadership potential are the key criteria,” Sajal Gupta, Partner at Venture Factory said.

 Pankaj Jain, Partner at 500 Startups, said that the only thing that mattered was whether the candidate was qualified to fill in the vacancy.

“If the Government official comes with lot of experience, network and knowledge of how to navigate through the government systems there would be lot of value to have such a person on board,” Vikram Gupta, Founder and Managing Partner at IvyCap Ventures said.

Entrepreneurs today are exploring a variety of disruptive technology ideas and it makes a befitting symbiotic relationship for both; the recruiter and candidate to become a part of this new India vision. Given the right talent and enthusiasm, startups should definitely not hesitate to hire someone from the public sector group at their organization.

Edition: December 2016

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