We held an insightful event at iwoca’s office for the HR network of the programme. The session included a panel discussion with both current and alumni Future Fifty –  chaired by Seema Desai, People Director at iwoca who was joined by: Andy Meikle, Chief People Officer at UNiDAYS, Audrey Stewart, most recently Chief People Officer at WorldRemit and Michael Farry most recently People Director at graze.

Together they shared their experiences, learnings and advice on HR, recruitment and culture. The key takeaways are summarised below.

Recruiting the best talent

  • Hire a recruiter – invest in this function
  • The recruiter’s  function is different to HR.  Recruiters are the Hunters who hire the talent, and HR are the Farmers that retain it
  • Good recruiters are creative, natural networkers, good stalkers have sales skills!
  • Agencies can be good if you can convert them.  They need to understand the KPI’s not necessarily about numbers.  It is about the quality of the hire and needs to have an open mind who to hire
  • Build recruitment as part of your systems and processes.  Mention that you are hiring at every opportunity – speaking, LinkedIn etc
  • Have a good story to tell – this will attract people to join your company
  • Join the recruiter slack channel

Roadmap for the HR department

  • Don’t hire permanent people for the HR function whilst you are scaling, as you need different people at different stages.  Hire consultants!
  • Where possible, hire part-time staff – there is a lot of untapped talent there

 Engagement with founders/CEO

  • Need to have a direct link with them a great relationship where you can be honest with their abilities to lead the company
  • Reading recommendation: Lifecycle of an organisation – Ichak Adizes

Remuneration Strategy

  • Ask yourself why you have a bonus scheme – what behaviour are you trying to encourage?
  • Don’t have a bonus strategy across the company – do it position level and not company level e.g may not work for devs but works for sales
  • Does not have to be annual, it could be every 18 months
  • Separate bonuses from appraisals
  • Transparency, Fairness, and Clarity are key
  • Needs to be logical – if what the person is doing is impossible the bonus needs to reflect that e.g. breaking into a difficult market
  • Get the team to design the bonus structure and advise them of the constraints
  • Know your audience – people are not always motivated by money. Think outside of the box – white goods? More holidays? Give choices
  • If your company is disruptive and trying to achieve something big, set up a bonus plan which is disruptive, which will motivate them to achieve that goal

Referral Scheme

  • Ask the team what it should be
  • Have an internal marketing campaign – showcase the referrals that have been made, using storytelling e.g. Joe introduced Sanj to the company, they worked previously at Yammer – not necessarily about metrics
  • Have comms for easy hires and difficult hires
  • Keep the referral money and put towards a company socials to hire more


  • Know your underlying values and behaviours – do not dilute values
  • When growing international – keep the spirit alive but keep it local
  • Hire people that suit the culture
  • Culture is not what you want but how you behave and live everyday