Range of Executive Roles | Leading Electric Vehicle Automotive Company
Review with Altigreen CEO Dr. Amitabh Saran
NGS Global supported Altigreen Propulsion Labs to find a range of commercial, strategic and operational leaders as they scaled up their business. We chatted with company CEO Dr. Amitabh Saran about the experience.
NGS Global: How long have you been with Altigreen?
Dr. Saran: I am the original founder of the company. Altigreen was founded in 2013.
NGS Global: What was the context of these executive searches? Growth phase? Restructuring?
Dr. Saran: Up until 2021 we were predominantly an R & D driven company, focused on building tech around electric vehicles (EV).
Last year, we went through a process of raising large funds, which allowed us to start scaling very rapidly. Just under 2 years ago, we had 75 employees, and today we have more than 250.
You can’t have a huge upswing in worker numbers without the proper leadership structures in place. We therefore started hiring for our leaders early on, as a proactive measure, knowing that we were about to start building out teams and departments. We were especially looking for executives that were very hands-on.
Some of our investors were a bit nervous with this move, suggesting we were becoming top-heavy. But the up-front acquisition of these senior hires meant we were able to scale up much more rapidly.
NGS Global: Why did you decide to use an executive search firm?
Dr. Saran: For a company like ours, especially in the embryonic stages, it is difficult to sell to talent based on a concept only. We needed an intermediary – for finding the right talent obviously, but also delivering the right pitch. This was especially challenging for us on our own as we did not even have a formal HR department initially!
NGS Global: Overall, how do you rate the performance of NGS Global with regards to the executive search work they have conducted for you?
On a scale of 0 of 10, at least 11.5. Their approach, professionalism and results have been beyond exceptional. They deliver magical results!
NGS Global: What were the main strengths of their approach?
Dr. Saran: I was able to develop a high level of confidence in Soumitra Agarwal and his team’s capabilities after the first few conversations. Since we had not used NGS Global previously, I was amazed to see their enthusiasm in working with a small company, and devote time in understanding the current and long-term prospects of the EV (sunrise) industry in India.
For instance, I knew the roles that I was looking for, but then for exec-level hires, you can’t go out with just a JD. Though it may appear simple, converting a founders’ needs into a structured proposition with words, can actually be very daunting. In this sense, NGS Global provided a lot of valuable advice gathered through their considerable experience.
Within Altigreen, we had to develop a sound conviction that NGS Global would accurately represent us and the unique opportunity that working for Altigreen would provide. NGS Global provided considerable ‘ideation’ around how to project our company to potential candidates, as both a brand / concept and a great career path, towards a shared vision for a better future.
This was a leap of faith, but when we started interviewing candidates they had suggested, we realized how genuine the candidates were, and the unwavering belief in our proposition and vision.
NGS Global also provided considerable valuable advice of who we should be looking for, and be flexible enough to optimize the process as we went along.
On one occasion, we realized we should not be pitching to VPs for a particular role, as many of them had already ‘been there done that’ when it came to upscaling a growing company. So we tweaked the search to look for Assistant VPs, and it completely changed the talent pool. The revised candidates were hungry for success and innovative in their thinking.
When we wanted to hire the Head of HR, part of me thought that NGS Global might not want to do that kind of search, as they might be hiring a degree of redundancy for future search opportunities (ie. the Head of HR could run searches instead). But they were just as enthusiastic about this search as with all the others, and we now have an exceptional leader in that position.
NGS Global: Anything NGS Global could have done better? Any problems at all?
Dr. Saran: Not really. We both learned some things throughout the searches. One key learning was that in the current market, just because a candidate is provided with an offer, and they verbally accept that offer, does not mean they are going to join the company. This was the case on one occasion, as the ‘successful’ candidate was presented with a very competitive counter-offer from their incumbent firm, and did not join us. Executives in the Indian employment market usually have to give long notice periods (circa three months), and a lot can happen in that time.
Because of this, we both quickly learned to keep searching right up until someone signs the employment contract.
NGS Global: Would you recommend NGS Global to other organizations for this type of work, and why/why not?
Dr. Saran: I have already recommended them to two other companies! I seriously cannot fault them for their service, professionalism and results.