Sunday, July 28, 2013

Bronte is hiring - a follow up...

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW CLOSED. We received 270 plus - and we are finalizing a short list...


As many know - Bronte Capital - the asset manager - has advertised for their first employee.

I have gone through my email fairly carefully and I should have replied to every single application although more than 200 in the negative.

I found five applications in the "junk mail folder" and I fear I may have missed a few others.

If I have not replied to you please resend to brontecapital@gmail.com and make sure you get a reply. If you are interested enough to consider working for us and devoting a good part of your life to Bronte then we owe you the courtesy of a reply.

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We are currently about half way through a "preliminary round" interview where I ask some questions testing

(a) basic science and a scientific understanding of the world,
(b) thoughts about how you may build our computer systems [targeted at our quite unusual needs], and
(c) business analysis [mostly for looking at longs].

We have found nobody who answers all three sets of questions well - but a few who answer two of the three well.* [Some of these people are very high quality - just not entirely on our needs...]

This means that eventually we will need more than one employee though we are at the moment very focussed on the computing problems and we would prefer doing those things really well. [We are not much into compromise...]

All of the people who do "two out of three" well are expensive: they have good jobs, are aged over 30 and I would need to promise them a lot to make them move. [And I am reluctant to promise a lot for a compromise employee...]

I will consider someone who does the computing part well but is cheaper (which probably means younger). I would probably hire a young, entrepreneurial computer geek who wants to be taught the business analysis stuff - especially if they were Australian based already... If I get someone like that I can spend more on the next employee.

Above all else I am interested in intellectual firepower (I want to hire people smarter than me, especially in the computer task) and the ability to actually implement this stuff.

Still I have another 20 or so preliminary interviews to go. Who knows what I will find...




John

*I have high standards. One senior Silicon Valley executive I tested on the questions suggested that he knew several people under 30 who meet my criterion - but they are mostly going to wind up worth 100 million dollars - and that a surprising number worked at Facebook. He thought I was being unrealistic.


J

15 comments:

t said...

John,

You are a rarely honourable recruiter. Every time I apply for something I get the now standard "due to the number of applications only successful candidates will be contacted." What happened to manners?

Damian said...

Charlie Munger with excel macro and databasing skills. Oh I wished I lived in Sydney! Good luck and keep the blog going - many thanks for that.

Anonymous said...

"One senior Silicon Valley executive I tested on the questions suggested that he knew several people under 30 who meet my criterion - but they are mostly going to wind up worth 100 million dollars"

So, time to short facebook then?

Kippr said...

Why the Sydney requirement? Useful to all be local all the time but also quite a constraint. Many of the best nerds prefer working remotely these days..

petertm said...

John,

I am starting my 36th year trading professionally for my own account and have gone thru many of the trials and tribulations that u are going thru. I ALWAYS replied to every applicant we ever had (in the old days it was by phone). Ur right, it's only common courtesy! Hiring is very difficult and we found that our success ratio was approx 50%. We typically hired young people out of college who had
(a) a great desire to be in the business and make $, (b) could do a simple math test (c) did well on a simple timed matching test (that took under a minute) (d) had some knowledge of the business (we called that knowledge "can they find the bathroom?" (e) had no preconceived ideas of how to make money. Our two most successful hires were a female art history major and an average finance major who never stopped pestering me to give him a job (he started doing programming for me) and is now an incredible trader on his own.

Hiring programmers and quants is a very special task. I would hire a really good programmer to do what u need and then hire a second person for ur other needs. I believe u will find that as u start getting ur software ur desires for more will grow exponentially.

Good luck w ur search, i enjoy ur blog immensely and love Australia. Maybe i can visit u on my next trio to Australia to say hi?

PS. Please consider this free advice worth what u paid for it!

James M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

From what the posts say, it looks like a standard financial statement + maybe other bits and pieces. Shouldn't be a difficult task.

John Hempton said...

Sorry but I find it hard to spell out the computing needs without giving the game away...

J

Anonymous said...

John,
for what you want you'll have to:
a) be incredibly lucky (and even more lucky to retain), or;
b) compromise

a) is unlikely I'd say, because someone like that would work for Bronte either from loyalty (which means loyalty to one of two of you), or a large carrot - say a partnership with a few year

b) compromise does not mean compromising only on your three criteria! You've already tightened the criteria way beyond those three, maybe w/o even realising it. Say by implicitly saying no to telecomuters located outside Oz I'd suggest that you consider widening some of the other criteria too (and in general rethinking very explicitly what your other real criteria - as many of them as you can identify - are) first.

What I found useful in this is pseudo-weighting the criteria and working counterexamples (it's too long to write here, let me know if you want to hear more) to figure out what the hell I really want and how am I willing to tweak the criteria.

In general, you'd also think how you retain someone too - especially someone who's really really good..

If you hire your entrepreneurial youngster, you'll run (bar building the loyalty/carrot) a perpetual high risk that they will get a helluva good experience out of you and move just when they become useful.

Potentially saddling you with a system no-one but them can understand in meanwhile, if you're really unlucky.


Summary - hiring is harder than you think.

jc said...

Don't think such a person exists. Think about it, you probably won't find such a person at Rennaisance Technology even!

Also, sad to say - your post sounds cheap too. Sounds like you ate demanding xyz yet would balk at paying this person.
Just my 2c sorry...

Edward Snowden said...


I am an extremely talented database administrator. I'm also very experienced in detecting deceptive, fraudulent and dishonest business practices.

I would gladly be available for telecommuting. However, due to circumstances beyond my control I am currently unable to relocate to Sydney. Visa or asylum would be rewarded with loyalty!

Thank you for you consideration.

Elf Owl said...

You did a good job of making a list of things you are looking for in a prospective employee. Well done. On top of that you advertised your needs well, because you received a lot of applications, some of them even of very talented people. Well done again.

Your current solution for the talent gaps in the current applications is to hire an extra person. You could bridge that gap too by changing the current task assignments. Or alternatively, some of your applicants may bring skills that enable your current staff to do certain stuff they do now faster, thus freeing up time for the analytical part of the work.

Anonymous said...

Find some young, hungry interns/fresh grads. There are lots - trawl the universities. In today's market, where such good opportunities are at a premium you'll find someone you can mold. Great things take time.

Russell said...

I have a sixteen year old son who is talented in math with a business interest. Would you mind sharing a few of your interview questions after your position is filled?

Mike said...

I am who you are looking for. The fact that you expect to find someone like this to work for you is frankly delusional.
I wish you the best but you will be very disappointed if you expect to get this skill set in an employee.

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