Albany Insights: James Goodrich on the impact of Covid-19 on the CTO/VPE Search Environment

The next 12 months are going to be quite extraordinary, whatever sector you are in, as the impact continues to be felt. We will be writing a series of insights into the tech market over the coming months, which will also be published by CTO Craft, the community platform for CTOs.

Partnership with CTO Craft

Partnering with CTO Craft was a very easy decision for me. I have the utmost respect for the community and the founder, and it’s an opportunity to speak within the tech community in a non-evasive way by sharing information such as career advice and our perspective of the market.

Our business

For those that don’t know Albany Partners, may I start with a brief background. I set up Albany 8 years ago with a passionate belief that to add real value you must know a single market deeply – and this underpins the company’s focus of exclusively moving CTOs and VPEs to high growth technology companies.

The start-up world was a lot smaller back then, and many of our early candidates are now in prominent roles within the industry. We still do business with many of them, and some have become friends. 95% of our business is referred, which I hope is an indication of the approach my team and I take – for us it’s all about really knowing our specialism, and always carrying this out with honesty and integrity.

One of the greatest challenges I faced was scaling the business.  I put so much emphasis on culture when hiring people into Albany which has resulted in a team of people I would back every day of the week! They all genuinely care about adding value to a business or persons’ career.  Albany has also invested in building an entire knowledge management function so with every search we are better informed. The net result is we are able to long list and filter the market incredibly accurately against a client’s criteria.

The senior team at Albany include Henry Draper and Luke Webber who lead our PE and VC portfolios respectively. Both will be contributing to our Albany Insights series and other events that Albany take part in with CTO Craft over the coming months.

The market

In our view, the next 12 months are going to be quite extraordinary – whatever sector you are in – as the impact continues to be felt.

Fortunately, despite the global shockwave, activity is holding steady in the tech-driven sector, particularly in areas such as e-commerce, e-learning, tech platforms, healthcare technology, B2B technology, and some financial services.

Often, a CTO hire follows an investment round or around significant growth. In the early days of the pandemic we saw both venture capital and private equity firms shift focus from building pipeline and executing new deals to initially protecting their respective portfolios.  Organisations that had funding secured were ring fenced and continued to make hires, but for some, funding was pulled as well as the need for a CTO.  Fortunately, in the past couple of months we’ve seen a rapid recovery in new deal execution in venture which has triggered a flurry of CTO searches. The CTO hire, by the nature of the role, has been fastest to recover in general, given the fact that many businesses see this as an opportunity for “tech to catch up.”

We’ve seen candidates being as open to moving as they ever have been. We have found it a little harder to move candidates from an industry that is more “Covid protected” like Fintech in to say Travel or Events, but many industries have benefitted from the way in which the world operates now in response to Covid, and therefore people want to get into the hottest seats like they would in any other economy. Technology businesses have realised that remote working really does work for engineering teams, and we are seeing more and more companies adopting a distributed engineering model enabling them to hire more effectively.

My view is that we are adapting well to the new normal. For the first time I personally hired someone without meeting them face to face – it’s not ideal but it’s doable. There is no getting around the fact it’s going to be a tough ride for many parts of the economy. But in our world, people are adapting and will continue to identify new and exciting market opportunities in an ever-changing landscape.

At Albany we remain positive and will continue to build our business and the relationships that make it all possible. We look forward to that being in person hopefully soon.



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