We’ve had a swim in the local talent pool with Maha Al Zeir, our Talent Acquisition Manager, a seasoned HR consultant and the founder of WizHRD, a HR consultancy firm for tech startups in the Middle East.


Plenty of insights and advice below.



On talent pool in the region and building a strong tech team


Some CTOs in local startups are non-Arabs and thus standing out from the rest of the (Arab) team – does it mean there is a lack of skilled local resources in our startup ecosystem?


Let me start by saying that there is great energy over here in the Middle East. The new generation is constantly evolving, and they desire a job that suits their need to develop and grow. They focus on learning & development, and they were able to use globalization to their own benefit. As a HR consultant, I come across high-potential local candidates every day.


Arab founders are disrupting big existing businesses and industries. UAE and KSA have developed regulatory reforms to encourage Arab founders and enable them to grow their companies. This reflects on the caliber quality and prompts fresh grads to concentrate on growing and enhancing their skills and knowledge to meet the market needs.


On the other hand, we cannot ignore the financial factor. Many companies are opting to hire qualified employees with lower costs. I see some tech companies hiring from Eastern Europe for specific technology roles.


In general, there is no lack of skilled local hires, but I have to admit that my team faces trouble when hiring AI experts, machine learning and metaverse experts.


For the VC field, things are blooming, and candidates with a financial background are interested in the investment sector, so we witness an immigration from the strict corporate environment to VC firms. There’s no wonder why though – VCs as employers offer flexible work hours and a more interactive structure.


What is the talent pool like in startups around the region?


We certainly have a high caliber across the region. Majority of the local talent pool are graduates of foreign universities (mostly USA and UK). You can also notice a shift in the way our local undergrads understand the importance of internships and coop programs. So, when screening candidates, I usually expect them to have work experience.


What I usually emphasize is that the geographical location is no longer valid for tech startups; globalization has influenced the recruitment field, which allows any company to hire any employee regardless of their geographical location. This latest trend urges us to ask a new question: Are talent pools within tech startups robust or not? What I mean by a robust talent pool is a group of individuals who are eager to learn and keep up with new technologies and programming languages. Nowadays, companies are more aware of the value of learning & development, and they started including this among the list of objectives for each employee.



Also, our new generation relies on self-learning to grow their skills. Startups are all about growth and, without investing in your employees, you will never be able to advance and build a disruptive business.


What more can be done to strengthen the tech element in startup teams?


1. Having a solid CTO (coaching day-to-day training) – and I personally advice startups to have a CTO among the members of the founding team.
2. Solving problems once at a time.
3. Having a solid technical project manager within each team.
4. Investing in the tech team and tech tools.
5. Learning & development structures should be linked to a performance-based culture, including a growth objective for each quarter.
6. The essential tip is not to build a team for a startup but build for the big dream! Meaning – having an organizational chart that reflects the long-term structure in mind, including all other teams.
7. Making sure to hire based on your values and bring in people who understand and respect your culture.


How does WizHRD help the region’s tech startups build their dream teams?


WizHRD is the region’s first HR consultancy specialized in tech startups; our team concentrates on values and building a culture right from the beginning.


We are specialized in working as a strategic partner with the senior management and helping them grow their teams.


I personally believe that companies are not built by policies and procedures. It all comes down to people and people building companies; understanding the new generations and blending four generations to come up with the new great idea that would change people’s lives and solve problems. This is where WizHRD steps in; we act as specialized partners who add value by sharing our rich experiences with you.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read)  
Quick tips for strengthening the tech element in your startup team: have a solid CTO (if the person is also a co-founder - amazing!), invest in the tech team and tech tools, focus on learning & development and set a growth objective for each employee every quarter... and - build a team for the big dream that reflects the long-term structure of your startup!


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Happy Eid in advance and safe trips during the travel carnival!


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