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Building a Creative Culture

Five qualities we look for when we’re hiring

Seven years ago, Strategy Design & Advertising produced an article about what it means to cultivate an ‘employer brand’ – a subject that is as important to us now as it was back then.

An employer brand reflects the emotional connection between a company and its employees. It exists in the hearts and minds of past staff, current staff, and their friends and families.

As a professional services agency, we understand that the people who work for us represent our values. Knowing what kind of person to look for is essential. Yet with five studios across three countries, keeping our employer brand consistent can be complicated.

With this in mind, we decided to investigate what key qualities are the most important to a selection of our Managing Partners. We talked to Geoff Cranko, Steve White and Fraser Callaway about how they recognise great staff, and why those qualities matter.

What we found was a set of five character traits, which despite different interpretations, were all acknowledged as being key to a great working relationship. In this five part series, we unpack each of those qualities – starting with a candidate’s intellect.

Part 1: Intelligence Quotient

At one point in time, IQ was considered the primary determinant of success. While now employers tend to think more holistically about the qualities that make someone successful, IQ is still a good general indicator of problem solving and reasoning abilities. At Strategy, it remains the most important quality when it comes to recruiting. For a business that prides itself on providing effective and engaging solutions, having the ability to problem solve and understand concepts is of paramount importance.

Fraser Callaway is Strategy’s Managing Partner in Wellington, and has been described as a businessman “with a designer’s head and an entrepreneur’s heart”. For him, IQ can be described simply as “being switched on”. In other words, being perceptive, and having the ability to make logical decisions based on good instincts.

For Geoff Cranko, it’s about finding the right answers. Geoff is Strategy’s Group Managing Partner, and has been developing and managing companies for over 25 years. Having run organisations both large and small, he’s well versed in the hiring process.

In his eyes, IQ simply means smart solutions. “We look for people who can understand new ideas and processes. It’s about making sense of abstract information, being able to work something out using solid reasoning.”

But is IQ really the most important quality?

“Yes. At the end of the day, the thinking has to be there. It doesn’t matter if you have a nervous tic if you’re providing the smartest solution to the problem.”

Look out for Building a Culture: Part Two coming next week