Martin crossing the street

Behind the Brand: Martin

Welcome to Behind the Brand - a series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about. In this edition, Delivery Lead Martin talks about what it takes to build a team from scratch.

We’ve always felt that the people are really what makes Amby, Amby.

Which is why we wanted to create our Behind the Brand - a written series that highlights our employees and the topics within talent acquisition and HR that they are passionate about.

In this edition, we're talking to Martin. As a Delivery Lead at Amby, Martin's experience ranges from sourcing C-level positions to building world-class engineering teams from scratch. He also has a proven track record of spearheading recruitment initiatives such as conducting training sessions for hiring managers, executing effective Employer Branding strategies, and driving improvements to recruitment infrastructure.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? 

My journey began with a Bachelor's in Entrepreneurship and Economy from BI Oslo, where I focused on early-stage companies, emphasizing innovation and creativity at the beginning of an organizational life cycle. Working with fast-growing companies like reMarkable fueled my interest in this dynamic sector. While I temporarily set aside my interest in creating something from the ground up, I pursued a Master's degree in Leadership and Organizational psychology to bridge the gap between the human element in building leading companies.

Having worked across multiple scale-up and enterprise companies, I've been involved in diverse team-building scenarios, from recruiting the final piece of the puzzle to establishing teams from the ground up alongside product managers and other stakeholders. What engages me most about the latter is the undeniable correlation between the end product and the team behind it. In my opinion, short-term planning tends to gets a lot more attention than the long-term strategy of what a high-performance team should include regarding the necessary skills to make the idea successful.

What drew you to recruitment?

I've always been drawn towards supporting people and watching them grow professionally and privately. When I pursued an HR career, I wanted to combine my passion for developing people with my desire to build high-performing companies, from ideas to products.

Martin-1-1Working with Talent Acquisition allows me to influence the overall direction of the company and not only the process of hiring the right people. Building competitive and robust teams is one of the company's most impactful components, and together with the business philosophy and vision, crafting an effective team is a key part of the path to creating a successful business in the long term.

What is it about building teams from the ground up that interests you? 

I think it's because this part of a team's lifecycle is where you go from just an idea to something tangible. A lot can go right or wrong during that phase since you're focused on building a small organization's future within a broader ecosystem. Whether or not you build your team correctly will affect the long-term impact your team (or small organization) will have on the business.

What are common signals that it might be time to build a new team or department? 

In today's competitive and fast-paced environment, companies have to prioritize innovation and rapid adaptability to maintain a competitive advantage. Tech companies - especially those with funding - feel pressure for growth and innovation, which means they continuously introduce new products, services, and features based on customer needs and growth ambitions. As a result, there is a rapid need to build new teams during different phases of an organizational lifecycle. For example, they might need to bring on new competencies and skillsets to launch a new product or feature or even take on organizational restructuring based on the balance of future revenues. It's also not uncommon for companies to lower their dependencies on consultants, which means they want to bring competencies in-house.

Here are a few common signals that might be time to build out a new team:

  • There is a need to develop new technologies that ultimately fuel product development and, ultimately, revenue.
  • If a new competence is deemed necessary for the company's development. For example, expertise in new programming languages, developments in machine learning, or full-blown AI teams could be "new" competencies. Often, these competencies will have entire teams or departments built around them as time goes on.
  • Wanting to be at the forefront of your industry might push you to develop a team or unit that can challenge an established industry with new solutions and mindsets. For example, building a new digital unit inside an already well-established organization.
  • Other aspects to look for are high cognitive loads, increased dependencies, ad hoc teams with a lack of direction, poor performance and delivery speed, and a mismatch between alignments internally on prioritised business goals.

These are a few reasons a company should want to build a team from the ground up. Regardless of the reason, the execution will only be as good as the team you bring together to build it. This is why you should consider the importance of planning a well-structured recruitment strategy around this.


Let's say a company has decided to build a new team - where do they start? 

Once you recognize the need to build a new team within your company, it's time to get started. At the most basic level, the first thing you need to have is alignment on the new team's goal. You don't need to have every KPI mapped out for the next 5 years, but you need to have a high-level understanding of how the team contributes to the overall organization - and potentially how they will work with other teams. By addressing these aspects thoughtfully, you're laying the groundwork for the team's foundation and positioning yourself to successfully recruit the right individuals to develop meaningful results based on high-level perspectives.

While this alignment is essential, the accurate measure of success lies in your ability to craft a vision that aligns with these objectives and secures the necessary resources to transform the vision into a strategic investment. As John Sullivan famously said:

"Recruiting is not an event; it's a process. It takes time, patience, and a strategic approach to find and attract the right talent".


This quote really demonstrated the complexity of building a new team. While there may be no straightforward answers, there are a few steps you can check off your list to understand your needs and set yourself up for success in recruiting the best talents for a high-performance team.

Step 1: Define the team's purpose and goals

My most essential advice is to strictly plan the team's goals and objectives and carefully consider how the team will create value and what resources are required to achieve this. This involves clear and structured communication with key stakeholders around the team (both vertically and horizontally) in the initial phase.

Whether you are a start-up, scale-up, or enterprise, gathering accurate data and insights from the right perspectives is crucial to fully understand the company's interfaces and the support you will get from resources around the team. Solely focusing on internal planning hinders a well-defined planning phase and may create a misalignment of candidate profiles needed for your team to succeed. A straightforward example of this is overly investing in your frontend or backend team when the opposite is required.

Step 2: Understand how the team fits into the broader organization

Whether your organization is structured in a matrix format or draws inspiration from frameworks like Team Topologies, understanding the teams around you is a key step, as you often work in cross-functional teams with services and products that usually overlap. This is to get an overview of all the interfaces between the teams, the competence within their teams, and the expectations from different stakeholders. This will give you leverage on recruitment and the opportunity to provide value from day one instead of acting as a bottleneck in the ecosystem.

To cover this in detail, you can, for example, create a document that clearly outlines the team's responsibilities and areas of focus and discuss these with other team leaders to gather their insights and thoughts. Use tools like Jira and Confluence to map and document information on team interfaces, skills, and support capabilities. Following up with leaders to get the green light after the information has been mapped out is also beneficial.

The need for a new team often arises from various considerations, including technical, product, or business-related factors, even if initially communicated by management. If you are undertaking this type of exercise, you will own the narrative, allowing you to establish a strong foundation for your team and those around you. This analysis will also help you outline the budget necessary to meet the team's objectives and goals based on requests from different perspectives and lay the foundation for recruitment.


Step 3: Determine the skillsets and seniorities you need to meet short- and long-term goals

Before you can even start thinking about hiring, you have to start asking questions in your organization. Because there's quite a difference between a frontend developer interested in design and a frontend developer who wants to spend more time with integrations and backend systems.

Here is where internal research comes into play. For instance, do you have support from the Platform Team to help you get started in the following months or a designer to assist with the interface of your new application? If you need both skill sets, which do you need first, and which can wait?

Once you’ve conducted some internal research, use that data gathered and answer the following questions to help you construct an outline for your new team based on your research:

  • How many team members will be required to meet your OKRs?
  • What specific roles and responsibilities will each team member fulfill? (Need to have versus nice to have → remember that you are hiring a team, not one candidate)
  • What are the skills and qualifications expected from team members?
  • What will the hierarchical arrangement or reporting line be within the team?
  • How will the achievement of objectives and goals be measured or quantified? (Creating SMART-goals or OKRs)

Keep in mind that your objective is not solely to recruit top talent but rather to build a cohesive team that complements each others' strengths and enhances overall performance. There's a lot of research out there that highlights various factors contributing to success, with diversity as one of the most significant.

If your product targets a diverse market, why should the team developing the idea be represented by a fracture of the target group?


Diversity is complex and encompasses a range of attributes, including age, cognitive styles, gender, experience, and educational background. Fostering a team with a solid mix of these factors can improve problem-solving, decision-making, and market understanding. From experience, the most challenging yet critical part is starting diversity with the most significant part of the team. This could be a more senior resource with an entrepreneurial mindset who will help you set the standard and vision for the team.

Step 4: Translate these decisions into a hiring roadmap

Once you've discussed your skillset requirements with management to confirm you're on the right path, it's time to translate those skills into a hiring roadmap.

A hiring roadmap really comes down to determining what roles should come first (and across which timeline). This may not be easy to handle since, often, your most hard-to-fill roles will be a priority as you build the team's base. However, this is where shortcuts will only hurt the team's future. For example, getting a junior developer before the tech lead may give this person a poor start.

At this point, you should have a list of the skillset requirements, an idea of who you will hire when, and potentially, job descriptions drafted. If you want to take your recruitment strategy to the next level, you can also write out candidate personas for your most urgent roles. A candidate persona encompasses tangible elements (like details in the job description) and intangible qualities (like cultural fit). They are instrumental in helping your team think through what a successful hire looks like and can help you craft your advertising plan.

While it's important to find individuals with the right skill sets based on predefined personas, it's important to remember that creating a team from scratch involves more than just meeting the "hard skills" scorebox. Early on in the team's journey, you want individuals who challenge the status quo with innovation and creativity and a mindset for testing different ways to build up a world-class product or service. In other words, your first hires will likely need an entrepreneurial mindset and the qualifications required for their role. People who can handle a lack of structure, a lot of a/b-testing, connecting ideas towards business ideas, and so on are likely to thrive early in the team's journey.

Step 5: Sell the Vision

In my opinion, all successful recruitment processes - whether for inbound or sourced candidates - begin with a motivating and inspiring pitch.

However, crystalizing the pitch is a common pitfall for new teams since projects can change often or even need to be clarified. While it's completely understandable that the pitch and the vision might change over time, you always have to invest in that story. Because starting a presentation with "This team will support task force X with project Y" doesn't always spark inspiration. Instead, provide detailed information about the projects you are delivering and how the team will create value for the organization. Last but not least, give the candidate a view of your vision for the team - and see if they are equally committed to brining it to life.

Author profile Martin Hodt

After pursuing a MSc in Leadership and Organizational Psychology, Martin joined Amby. He is now a Delivery Lead with extensive experience in the consumer and media industries.