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Head of Talent (Studio Team) at Forward Partners

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  • London
  • fulltime

Forward Partners is an early-stage venture capital firm, meets startup studio. We invest from day zero through to Series A, focusing primarily on applied AI, marketplaces and e-commerce. Out of our early-stage funds, we’ve invested in 55+ companies including Patch, Apexx, Fy!, Ably, Makers and Koru Kids.

In keeping with our core belief that the real work begins after founders raise money, our purpose-built startup studio of in-house engineers, designers, marketers, and talent specialists is on-hand to support our companies to design, build and grow.

We also fund growth of all stages through our equity-free revenue-based finance product, Forward Advances.

The role

We’re looking for a Head of Talent to shape the strategy and lead the execution of our Talent offer at Forward for our Portfolio. You will sit within our Studio team, report into Jasel Mehta, our COO and Head of Studio, and manage a small but ambitious Talent team. This is an awesome opportunity to deliver impact across our portfolio of fast-growing early-stage startups.

Our Talent team is still in its infancy (it was founded at the beginning of 2020) and there’s a huge amount of scope to shape our offer and services. Our core delivery will continue to be supporting both our portfolio and Forward (particularly our fast-growing Advances team) with their hiring needs, but beyond this is yours to shape. This could include talent planning and organisation design, employer branding, compensation and reward strategies, and anything else that you might bring to the table. You will bring depth within one or more wider Talent areas to the role and work with the broader Studio team to build out this service.

You will shape our Talent offer and scope of delivery (what do we do and how do we do it) really well, define our ‘customer’ engagement strategy (how do we engage with hiring managers and deliver a brilliant service to them), nurture the Talent team to deliver and grow, as well as recruit yourself. This is a hands-on role which will require you to recruit directly yourself and also develop the team to ensure they are delivering against the recruiting requirements of the portfolio. You will set the targets for the Talent function, alongside the Head of Studio, and it will be your responsibility to manage the team effectively in order to achieve these.

We’re in a brilliant position to coach our founding teams and you will guide them to embed stage-appropriate foundations and strategies. You will excel as a coach, sounding board and resident Talent expert.

You will also evolve our overall operations through championing stronger and more efficient data and metrics across the Talent function. You will define your teams’ OKRs, navigate that delicate balance between core and stretch objectives, and regularly report progress to the wider team.

Leading Talent at a VC-firm is a unique opportunity and we hope that’ll be a source of excitement and motivation for you to join us!


Talent offer and strategy
  • Shape and continuously refine a compelling and differentiated Talent offer that’s designed to add value to our business and portfolio of companies
  • Define, test and continuously improve the end-to-end talent acquisition experience from identifying a need to the end of probation for anyone we place. This should consider the ‘client’ business, hiring managers and candidates
  • Create and maintain materials and assets that allow us to communicate and sell our offer well.
  • Partner with hiring managers internally at Forward and across the portfolio to anticipate and scope hiring plans and roles, and position the Forward Talent team as a go-to partner
  • Coach hiring managers and key stakeholders around best practices and approaches, building strong and trusted relationships along the way
  • Embed smart ways to accelerate the time to hire e.g. via partnerships, job boards, events, campaigns, remote talent pools and/or others.
  • Manage our weighted pipeline of Talent projects, and proactively lead efforts to source, scope and close work for future months
Talent execution and operations
  • Be hands-on and own roles yourself, role modelling best practices to the wider Talent team and pushing forward our offer at the same time
  • Set and maintain the highest of standards across our delivery, including writing (and coaching others to write) inspiring job specs, use of software (we use Workable as well as some other tools), timely and valuable reporting, candidate feedback and CSAT reporting, and interview design and assessment frameworks
  • Embed inclusion and diversity practices and strategies across our entire Talent offer and delivery. You will be asked to join our company-wide working group to ensure Talent efforts align with our overall ESG agenda and be a key voice on this team
Team and leadership
  • Day to day management of our Talent Acquisition Manager (and in-direct oversight of the broader Talent team)
  • Active coaching and feedback delivery to build and nurture a strong (and fun) culture of improvement and learning across the Talent team
  • Active co-development of objectives and progression plans, to ensure that the Talent team are progressing during their time at Forward and that their work aligns with their broader goals

Your experience, skills and attributes

  • Excitement and passion for talent acquisition and belief in the value it brings to companies
  • Considerable experience of leading a Talent function
  • Proven track record of recruiting in the tech and digital space at all levels
  • Experience of leading strategic efforts to deliver against metrics and objectives
  • A genuine care for diversity and inclusion in the hiring process
  • Strong relationship building skills
  • Proven ability to
    • inspire and excite candidates with the potential and possibilities of job opportunities
    • instil clients with confidence in the offer and team
    • motivate, lead and develop a team to grow and deliver in the roles
    • empathise with the needs, motivations and challenges of client, candidate and colleague
  • A bias for action and the ability to balance competing priorities
  • A hands-on practitioner at heart; you will enjoy leading by example by looking after roles yourself
  • Strong leadership and organisational skills
  • Excellent communication and people skills. You will regularly be the face of Forward across the market and portfolio
  • A solid understanding of how to gain value tracking metrics and producing regular reports
  • A keen understanding of the role brand and marketing plays within recruiting efforts

Are you interested in the role but not sure your experience ticks all of the boxes? Please still apply. We appreciate that some of the things we’re looking for aren’t essential to being successful in this role. We strongly encourage candidates of all different backgrounds and identities to apply.


  • Competitive salary and broader financial compensation package
  • 5% pension contribution
  • 25 days per year, plus bank holidays. 1 extra day awarded per calendar year at company (capped at 30 days)
  • Private Medical Insurance with AXA (+ family/partner cover)
  • Access to an Employee Assistance Programme
  • £300 personal development budget with Sunlight
  • Regular lunch and learns
  • Working from home equipment and flexible working options
  • Weekly virtual yoga
  • Calm or Headspace app subscription
  • £10 FiitTV or equivalent (digital fitness) subscription
  • Regular team socials
  • In office breakfast, snacks and monthly team lunches
  • Season ticket loan
  • Cycle to work scheme
  • Sabbatical after 5 years of continued employment
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