In conversation with Sian Keane, CPO at Farfetch

Learnings from our conversation with with Sian Keane, Chief People Officer at Farfetch, who helped scale Farfetch from Series B to a NYSE listed company.
September 3, 2022
In conversation with Sian Keane, CPO at Farfetch
Our series ‘In conversation with…’ continued earlier this month when our co-founder Anton Boner shared an in-depth talk with Farfetch’s Chief People Officer, Sian Keane.

The Highlights

If you’re tight on time, this quick summary has the top takeaways you need to hear the main points and timings, so if you want to jump right into the audio to listen to the conversation topic, you can.

To watch the entire conversation, click the here for the conversation recording.

1. Huge value in coaching and mentoring

Being a coach and mentor for others and receiving the opportunity to grow through coaching is really valuable. Keane say’s there’s “power learning from others.”

Check out the audio at 5 minutes in for more.

2. Scaling a hiring process

Farfetch’s grown hugely from just over 100 people when Keane joined nine years ago to 6,500 people today, including five company acquisitions. To scale the hiring process, an in-house agency model was implemented from day one. One of the main lessons Keane talks through is the need to have “articulated the values of the company… because it’s hard to attract talent when no one knows who you are.” Focusing on the story and opportunities for candidates is vital to get talent interested in a start-up or lesser well-known brand.

Check out the audio at 7.30 minutes in for more.

3. Bringing in talent and maintaining culture

The “Talent attracts talent” model was where the leadership team initially focused when bringing in people at the early stages of the business, but there are challenges hiring people for technical specialisms rather than value-focused hires. As Keane says, “there’s no magic formula with recruitment.” The employer brand has been in development for years and is a cornerstone of their current talent attraction policy of hiring based on value proposition. Maintaining our culture is underpinned by these values combined with the cultural sensitivities where they are needed.

Check out the audio at 9 minutes in for more.

4. Finance and People teams working together

Headcount decisions and scaling at pace is challenging to keep things fair and remove duplications, especially when working across so many different countries. Having the Finance and People teams working closely together on headcount discussions helps keep the growth in line with the demands of hiring and developing people and markets as needed. Keeping things as fair and transparent as possible is important.

Check out the audio at 13.30 minutes in for more.

5.Candidate experience

Every single one of your employees is an ambassador for your business.” Candidates will do their own research online so having honest and authentic information that’s easy to find for candidates across as many social channels as possible is a necessity.

Check out the audio at 18.30 minutes in for more.

6.Inclusion and Diversity

We’ve been working on Inclusion and Diversity with a particular focus on gender and are seeing some great results. There’s more work to be done in other areas. Keane highlighted that “it’s important to have a baseline of data” as well as acknowledging the challenge that unconscious bias has for recruitment. “If you have a brain, you are biased.” Farfetch aims to get our workforce “looking like the streets we work on,” and they are using data to measure ourselves against a mix of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, and other metrics. Which will then help them to look at each step of the process to see where things change.

Check out the audio at 22 minutes in for more.

Sian Keane and Farfetch

With over 15 years in recruitment, Keane’s built her career with people firmly in mind and nowhere has presented as many opportunities for growth as Farfetch. From start-up to public listing on the New York stock exchange, Farfetch’s evolution has been as impressive as it’s been fast. With 6,500 employees across 17 countries, Keane has spent nine years at the forefront of developing processes and culture across the brand. In addition to her role at Farfetch, Keane is also a founding member of the UK’s Fashion Minorities Alliance.

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