Startups are increasingly hiring older and more experienced executives for non-tech roles as they shift their focus from rapid growth to building sustainable and profitable businesses. This trend is particularly evident in companies preparing for public listing, as having experienced leaders instills confidence in investors and markets, signaling stability and potential for success.
While startups still prefer younger talent for tech and product roles, there has been a growing demand for experienced professionals in finance, regulatory, and compliance functions over the past 1-1.5 years, a report in the Economic Times said.“There is an increased demand for senior professionals who have navigated longer business cycles and can introduce discipline and a structured approach,” said Anuj Roy, managing partner of executive search firm Fidius Advisory. “This is more evident in CXO hiring for roles such as finance, compliance, legal, and marketing.”
Venture capital funds investing in early-stage companies understand the gaps in leadership and the need for experienced talent to help build strong business foundations, mentor teams, and guide founders. Padmaja Ruparel, cofounder of Indian Angel Network, said, “Smart founders realise this early and onboard experienced talent to help build strong foundations of the business, mentor the team and even guide founders. In times of crisis, they leverage their experience to help steer the situation.”
Experienced executives bring invaluable skills in identifying and implementing a company’s strategic vision, reducing burn rates, improving operational efficiencies, and managing crises. Utham Gowda, CEO of Captain Fresh, emphasized the importance of hiring seasoned professionals like Mathew George, who has experience leading public companies, as the firm explores a broader shareholder base and faces increased scrutiny from analysts, shareholders, and the wider market, the ET report said.
Varun Chopra, cofounder of Eduvanz, pointed out that experienced executives are vital for handling regulatory and compliance tasks. “Senior hires, while often more costly, bring invaluable skills in identifying and implementing the company’s strategic vision,” he said. “For example, our burn rate has been reduced by nearly half, thanks to the strategic initiatives led by our CXOs.” Operational efficiencies, industry knowledge, and crisis management are other areas where experienced executives excel, Chopra said.
The startup ecosystem is witnessing a significant shift in hiring practices, with companies now prioritizing experience and maturity in key leadership roles. This change in approach is expected to continue as startups mature and recognize the critical role experienced senior professionals play in their success.