Our Responsibility to Young Talent

Written by
October 3, 2022

This piece was originally published by Rob Gay, CEO and Co-Founder of Venatus, on Linkedin in August 2017.

When Venatus first opened its doors, there were two of us in an office smaller than our current boardroom table. Forget door plaques or press accolades, in those days having anyone from within the “industry” join us seemed like a massive validation. If you’ve got people willing to leave the safety of a large company to join a startup, that can only be good news.

The company has had the good fortune to work with some of the best in the business over the years, and this experience is definitely a draw for clients. I continue to look for wisdom and expertise when hiring, but in the last seven years I have come to appreciate the value of a lack of experience

Venatus may well have been just as successful had we only hired mid-level and senior figures, but it would not be the same company without the young talent I have worked with over the years.

Alongside the team of experienced and mature professionals we have recruited, Matt and I make a point of hiring people in the very early stages of their careers and providing full training. There are a number of commercial and cultural incentives to this, but there is really only one reason why we do it.

It is a challenging time to be young in the job market, and collectively we have a responsibility to help.

As a former Managing Director of an international sales business I understand the importance of sustainability, and as the CEO of a British company in 2017 I have an increasingly strong interest in this. As the father of a teenager I worry about the reports of the hardship that the next generation are already facing.

There are now more graduates than there are jobs that require a degree and reports indicate that unpaid internships damage a graduate’s salary prospects in the long term. This also means there are less jobs for school leavers as the roles that do not require a degree are filled by overqualified graduates.

The job landscape is tough, but more than this and the fury and despondency, the apparent impossibility of finding paid, permanent employment has inspired a fantastic determination to succeed in many of the young people I interview. 

I have overwhelmingly found that by hiring first or second jobbers, and giving them autonomy and responsibility from day one that they not only live up to the tasks at hand but exceed them.

I run a Most Valuable Employee of the Quarter competition, in addition to financial and promotional incentives. None of this is groundbreaking but by making a point of supporting the people who help Venatus grow we have created a great track record of remaining and returning talent, in addition to becoming Europe’s leading entertainment ad sales house.

Currently 30% of the management team is comprised of people who have been with Venatus since they joined the workforce, and I hope that this continues to grow.

By the end of this year there will be five members of the team who have been with Venatus for five years and another six who will have completed their fourth year. For a seven-year old company with a team of twenty-five I like to think we have done something right.

At Venatus we pride ourselves on being an equal opportunities employer, which means recognising that both experience and inexperience can come at any age, and ultimately that every contribution is important. I would even go so far as to say that I hope the time of needing to make a point of supporting new talent passes as it becomes a natural course of action for everyone. For this to happen however, much wider changes are required.