By Karim Engelmark Cassimjee
CEO and co-founder of EnginZyme
Last week a friend from outside the world of deeptech start-ups congratulated me on EnginZyme’s Series B round, commenting that we must be gearing up for a “huge hiring spree.” Our conversation really helped me organize my thoughts on how hiring practices have taken shape at EnginZyme, so I decided to share them here.
Don’t hire just because your bank account is full
The first thing I told him was that there was nothing “spree-like” about our hiring. Webster’s defines a spree as “an unrestrained and usually excessive outburst of any activity.”
We are not “throwing money at a problem.” We are hiring carefully and deliberately, filling roles that are essential to our plans for perfecting and commercializing the world’s most powerful and reliable biomanufacturing platform.
Our first major growth period — after our Series A round — was transformative in this respect. We had a product: state-of-the art enzyme immobilization technology. We decided we needed to build services around that product so that we could show our partners how combining the subtle genius of biology with efficient and familiar manufacturing techniques could scale and eventually transform the chemical industry.
We had hired a CTO: Vince Murphy, a 20-year industry veteran with an Oxford PhD, plenty of company building experience and a heart of gold. He and Marco Saucedo, our Director of Process Engineering, led us successfully into the world of full process solutions. Hiring for this was a major challenge that involved most of our team.
Attract good people with purpose
I find the two things that have most helped us attract the right people are science — we are truly on the cutting edge of our sector — and purpose. I started this company because I wanted my academic work to have a positive impact on the environment. This sense of purpose is felt throughout the company. People who come here feel like, “You know, I had this great education. What is my responsibility to the world now? What should I do with my knowledge, with my skill?” So it’s not an exaggeration to say that we all share this purpose, this desire to make chemistry cleaner and greener.
Diversity is a great thing, even if it happens by accident
At EnginZyme, we do state-of-the-art work, so we hire people who are at the top of their game. To get a job here, they have to prove in various ways that they are rockstars at what they do. They have to be excellent at their jobs, but we are also careful to make sure they are good people, who value inclusiveness.
We find them — or they find us — through ads and our network of networks: employees, VCs, academic institutions, LinkedIn, etc.
It’s not easy; you certainly can’t walk into a café in Stockholm and stumble upon a bunch of engineers and roboticists who are comfortable with high throughput screening.
We have people who are starting their careers working alongside others who have decades of experience. There are 24 different nationalities among our 52 employees.
The diversity of roles here has led to real cultural diversity. This is a remarkable advantage in so many ways. It limits the “yes, boss” mentality and sparks interesting ideas and debates. We cherish it, even though we did not specifically plan for it.
Make sure your rockstars aren’t prima donnas
We’ve managed to establish a great vibe at EnginZyme. Our people are kind and cooperative. So we take care to ensure that the next rockstar we hire doesn’t trash the hotel room.
We have zero tolerance for homophobia, racism, destructive egos, or anything like that. When you come here, we know you already buy into EnginZyme’s company DNA: excellence, passion for what you do, and the ability to get along with a diverse group of people and work in a group mentality.
So how do we prevent that one bad apple from creating a toxic atmosphere? We bring people into the office early in the hiring process to see if they are a good fit. It’s like a date: maybe the person is kind and competent but something just doesn’t click. It goes both ways of course.
Does EnginZyme sound right for you? Check out our job openings.