Follow the Leader: Andreea Wade, Opening.io

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In the latest in our series of interviews with business leaders from across the country, we speak to Andreea Wade, co-founder and CEO of recruitment solution Opening.io, on how she leads her business.


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Andreea Wade, co-founder and CEO of Opening.io, has a background in programming, journalism, product management, business development and entrepreneurship. Formerly head of product management at Independent News & Media, she is a start-up mentor and was part of the EuropeanPioneers accelerator fund. Established in 2015, Opening.io is Wade’s fourth company, using machine intelligence to advance recruitment processes. Opening.io was named one of Europe’s 20 super AI (artificial intelligence), SaaS (software as a service) and enterprise start-ups in 2018.

What is your business’s elevator pitch?

“We’re a data science company that has built a cognitive engine that matches people to jobs. We live in talent databases, marrying candidates to job opportunities. With the war for talent, matching is the holy grail in the recruitment and HR space. Globally, we are in the top four AI recruitment-matching solutions. Less than 1% of recruitment start-ups have technology based on deep learning, and we’re one of them.”

What was the key motivation and raison d’être behind Opening.io?

“Myself and my co-founder Adrian Mihai had never worked in recruitment: we were frustrated candidates and hiring managers. We looked at this data-heavy industry, and said, surely data science can help to meaningfully match opportunities to job seekers?

“The motivation came from the candidates; although we don’t directly interact with them, we have built a B2B solution to help recruiters find people who are truly relevant to a job – and stop CVs getting lost in the ‘recruitment black hole’.”

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Looking back now at the early stages of Opening.io, would you do anything differently in terms of leadership?

“I think you learn from every single decision you make, and something comes out of it, even if you just learn not to do it again. That said, I would definitely move faster and be bolder, in the sense that I would ask directly: ‘Are you in or out?’ Whether that was with investments, with employees, or with clients.”

What keeps you engaged and motivated to drive the business on?

“Working with the team we have, and the success of the work we have already done, drives us to continue doing what we do. We don’t exist in a vacuum, we get insights and feedback from the industry, and what we’ve been hearing for the last nine months is that the market has matured and is starting to understand solutions like ours. So we know what we’re doing is meaningful, and yields results for our clients.”

What does achievement and success look like for your business?

“Success would be for 75% to 85% – and in the end to 100% – of every new hire our clients make to go through our system; for us to enable our clients to find the most meaningful fit every time they have a new opportunity. Beyond that, our ambition is to move into Fortune 500 companies and cover their needs globally. We’re taking the first steps towards achieving that by building a multilingual matching engine.”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

“I was told I can do everything that I want to do. I am from Transylvania in Romania, where under Communism there was no such thing as private enterprise. Then after the Iron Curtain fell, only those with money could start a business. So when I came to Ireland 18 years ago, all I aspired to do was work for a huge company. But someone told me: ‘You don’t know this yet about yourself, but you don’t want to work for these big companies, you want to build your own thing – and you can do whatever you want to do.’ It’s a simple thing, but it stuck with me: it turns out that you can do whatever you want to do.”

“Our ambition is to move into Fortune 500 companies and cover their needs globally. We’re taking the first steps towards achieving that by building a multilingual matching engine”

Andreea Wade, co-founder and CEO, Opening.io

What has been your proudest achievement to date?

“Having people speak so passionately about our product. We were just two people sitting down over a coffee saying, ‘do you think we can do something?’ and now we are getting assessed by Fortune 500 companies as being in the top three or four in the world. That’s pretty cool. And it’s also been creating a team with incredibly talented people, who want to be part of solving what we’re solving – which, in a nutshell, is bringing good people together.”

Your approach as leader is best described in which three words?

“Curious, impatient, empowering.”

Did you have a role model or mentor in business who helped you establish and grow Opening.io?

“My number one source when I need help is a WhatsApp group of 12 to 15 other founders. It’s a tight, trusted network of entrepreneurs, who I can share any problem with. I think 65% are women, which is important to me. That group has supported me throughout the years, and hopefully I’ve also contributed to it. In addition, there’s John Collins, one of our directors. He knows everyone or knows someone that knows someone, and he has been there every step of the way, getting clients and investors, and helping us turn Opening.io into a real company.”

How are you preparing and planning for Brexit in your business?

“There is so much opportunity for us in the UK, but we don’t know what Brexit is going to look like. We’re making changes, talking to people about how we can work together, and finding opportunities within Europe where we could help each other.

“Very often with uncertainty, there is a hiring freeze, but that in itself is an opportunity, because companies start recruiting internally and more meaningfully, and we can help with that. Any change presents an opportunity; it just depends how you frame it and how you go after it.”

Parting shot: what’s next for Opening.io?

“It’s a mix of expanding into new markets and continuing our research and development process. We’re going after Fortune 500 companies and large entities; we’re moving into a multilingual approach; and we have a couple of really interesting new partnerships that will enable us to cater to governmental organisations.

“We’re an R&D driven company – we’re constantly looking at what we can build next. We’re working on prediction models that will tell a candidate what they need to learn next in order to get the best job, for the highest salary, in a particular market.”

By Penelope Rance

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