Chief People Officer

24th November 2021

People & HR

As businesses have recognised the importance of digital transformation, Personio has seen strong demand across its markets. We partnered with the company to find its ideal Chief People Officer, Ross Seychell.

Personio: A people-first company

Personio is an HR management and recruitment SaaS platform, backed by Accel and Index. The software allows small and medium-sized companies to manage employee data and HR processes in one place. That includes vacation and sick days, approvals, salary, attendance, employee documents, performance, reporting, and employee on-boarding. Their recruiting function includes applicant tracking, interview scheduling, candidate reviews, and many other features. This is all done via the product’s core functionality or through its ability to integrate with third-party software.

Munich-headquartered Personio was founded in 2015. Its mission is to make HR processes as transparent and efficient as possible so human resources teams can focus on the most valuable assets in the company...the people.

In April 2019, Personio acquired Rollbox, a Spanish start-up that offers an API-based payroll solution. Rollbox operates in Spain, UK and Germany. As a result, this acquisition helped to facilitate Personio’s expansion across Europe.

Personio’s latest Series C funding round led by Accel closed in Jan 2020 reached $75m and brought its total capital raised to $130m. This was a pre-emptive round and the funding will be used to support the company’s continued expansion across the UK and Ireland, as well as Personio’s overall mission of becoming Europe’s leading provider of human resources software for SMEs. Small businesses remain underserved when it comes to HR software. Combine this with acceleration in digitised processes and you get huge growth potential for a business like Personio.

In Q1 2021, the firm’s UK revenue was more than 10 times greater than the same period last year. It now counts leading SMEs such as Mindful Chef, Tractable and Numan among its UK customers. That’s in addition to the likes of Premier Inn, Statista and SkyTeam internationally.

Personio recently announced the opening of a new, bigger office in London. Despite the recent pandemic and Brexit related upheaval, London remains one of the best places for tech companies to hire talented people. The company hopes to grow its headcount in London by almost fivefold, hiring nearly 40 members over the next two years. Personio needed the right Chief People Officer in place before it could make this happen.

What kind of candidate did Personio want?

For an HR SaaS firm, this role sits right at the heart of the action. That was reflected in the brief, which stated that the successful candidate would spend half of their time at the Munich headquarters where the majority of the company’s HR team is located.

Personio has experienced rapid growth and is now maturing from a “start-up” into a true “scale up” business. The incoming Chief People Officer would lead and structure an HR function to support this growth - ensuring Personio continues to evolve as an organisation. The Chief People Officer - the newest addition to the leadership team - would report directly to Personio’s CEO & Co-Founder, Hanno Renner.

This was an exciting opportunity to join one of the hottest start-ups at a pivotal moment in their journey. The role was suited to an ambitious and entrepreneurial individual who’d relish the opportunity to make a significant impact in an innovative, tech-led business.

Ross Seychell comes out on top

We gathered a fantastic selection of candidates for this role. All of which had a phenomenal depth of knowledge when it came to human resources. Furthermore, all those on the shortlist had a plethora of experience with different organisational and working models ranging from OKRs to cross-functional teams and agile management. 

Ross Seychell brings more than twenty years of experience in developing and implementing people strategies. He’s a business leader with a focus and passion for people and how the right culture can enable companies to achieve their mission. Ross has accumulated invaluable experience in people strategies that have added real value to growing businesses and their bottom lines.

Before joining Personio, he spent over two years as Chief People Officer at Wise. During this time, Ross supported company growth and long-term business strategy while overseeing the firm’s growth from 800 to 2,400 employees. At Wise, he helped to evolve the people operating model into a commercially focused global function of 90+ leaders and professionals. Ross also introduced new initiatives like rewards, partnering, and HR analytics.

Ross was the whole package. He thrives in tech-led organisations, while striving for constant improvements - much like the software offered by Personio.

This is the calibre of candidate you can expect from Founders Keepers. We’ll tap into our wide-reaching network and knowledge of the tech ecosystem to find the next addition to your leadership team.

We look forward to working with you.

“Once more thank you for your support on this tough search. You have shown a great amount of persistence and empathy in helping us find and convince the right candidate for this very important position. We’re really excited with the outcome.”

Hanno Renner, Founder & CEO, Personio

Are you a people leader open to exploring new opportunities? If so, we have a few open roles that will delight you. Please, submit your CV here and we’ll be in touch.

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