In the dynamic world of venture building, where the success of startups hinges on not just their ideas, but also on their ability to cultivate a thriving work culture. It’s a landscape where companies are born, nurtured and catapulted to greatness. In this ever-evolving ecosystem, Kaveh Gharachorlou, the Head of People & Culture at Further Ventures Limited is leading the way.
With over 25 years of global HR leadership experience, Kaveh’s passion lies in crafting companies that are not just places to work, but exceptional places to thrive. His expertise spans a vast spectrum, including agile leadership development, mergers and acquisitions, policy crafting, international employment law, performance management, compensation and benefits, organizational development, and transformative cultural change. He’s left an indelible mark on UAE and MENA matrix organizations, spearheading transformational projects that have significantly improved ROI and business outcomes.
But Kaveh isn’t just a seasoned HR professional. He’s a certified CIPD, SIX SIGMA expert, professional trainer, and ICF-certified coach. His multifaceted background shines brightly in the fintech, digital assets and fast-moving tech industries.
Let’s explore a world where startups are often destined to be category leaders, Kaveh is the compass guiding them towards a prosperous future!
Can you share your journey and experiences that have led you to your current role as the Head of People & Culture at Further Ventures? How has your background and passion influenced your approach to shaping organizational culture?
I relocated to the UAE, from London and initially wanted to stay for a year, 17 years later and I am still very much enjoying the professional and personal opportunities that the UAE provides us all.
During this time, I worked for a very large and successful American Company for 6 years heading up their entire HR shared services for the Middle East looking after the 6,000 workforce. I then moved to work in the creative media agency and that was my first introduction to the fast-moving tech and agency industries.
Having been regional Head of Talent and Development for 2 years and always being an entrepreneur, I set up my own HR consulting business in UAE to work for myself and successfully ran that for over 5 years. I was consulting for several TECH start-ups setting up their entire HR frameworks, delivering leadership training and executive coaching as well as supporting Leaders to define and develop their company culture to become a Great Place to Work.
Along this journey, I’ve been fortunate to work in diverse industries, which has provided me with a broad perspective on shaping organizational cultures. My passion for shaping organizational culture stems from my belief that culture is the heartbeat of any successful company.
My background has influenced my approach by teaching me that an inclusive, collaborative and innovative culture can drive both employee engagement and business growth. This passion has guided me in creating an environment at Further Ventures where people are inspired to innovate, collaborate and thrive in building successful companies.
As a leader in HR, what unique strategies or practices do you implement to attract and retain top talent in a competitive and rapidly changing business landscape?
To attract and retain top talent in today’s competitive landscape, being well-connected in the region is a great advantage. Over the last 17 years, I have worked and developed a great network of talent who all become potential candidates.
Organizations need to offer not just a job but a meaningful career. This incorporates personalized career development plans, cross-functional experiences, individual training to upskill, and mentorship programs.
With AI, it is essential to offer cutting-edge online training & development courses access to seminars/ conferences and building leadership qualities for all. Each one of us regardless of title or experience helps makes the Company the success it will become.
Building a positive and inclusive work culture is crucial. How do you ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are actively fostered within Companies that you are leading the HR and People functions?
Building a positive and inclusive work culture is a key priority for any successful company to thrive. I actively foster diversity, equality and inclusion by implementing unbiased recruitment practices, creating safe spaces for open dialogue, different communication channels to seek feedback, and offering inclusion & diversity training for all hiring members.
Our aim is to ensure that every voice is heard and every perspective is valued. It’s instilled in me a deep conviction that culture is the heartbeat of any successful company. If anything, my background has taught me that an inclusive, collaborative and innovative culture can do more than just foster employee engagement—it can drive business growth by creating an environment where people are not just employees but innovators, business owners, collaborators, and thriving individuals that all make the Company the success it is.
Throughout your extensive HR career, you have been involved in nurturing start-ups from the very early stages and developing their HR framework in line with growth. How do you ensure that the people and culture strategies align with the varied needs of different start-ups?
Whilst I have my HR/ People toolkit, it’s important to appreciate that every organization’s structure, culture and dynamics will be different and therefore one size does not fit all. We need to listen and be aligned with the Founders/Management teams’ vision, mission and where applicable to map and deliver the People strategy in line with the business strategic plan.
We cannot develop and build without the right talent and therefore we cannot grow and flourish if we cannot retain our key talent. In my current role, we adapt our people and culture strategies to meet the specific needs, goals and values of each of the ventures that we support.
Each venture we support is unique and our approach reflects this diversity. We tailor our people and culture strategies to align with the specific needs, goals and values of each venture. Flexibility and adaptability are therefore key success factors within this process.
Can you describe a situation where you had to navigate a challenging HR issue and how your leadership approach contributed to finding a positive solution?
During my consultancy period, I came across several companies that had members of the Management team/Senior Heads of departments that would not collaborate in a healthy way together. This created tension not just between them, but their teams where they worked in silos and very much in a “blame” culture.
Being an ICF-certified coach greatly helps me to bring these senior individuals together in a non-confrontational way to address such concerns, to get them to listen to one another and agree with actions to move forward which is then addressed via executive one-to-one coaching for several months to ensure the issues are improved and addressed.
In facing challenging people issues, my approach is often to address them head-on with a focus on active listening, empathy and collaboration. By creating a supportive environment and providing clear expectations and development opportunities, we successfully resolved the issue, resulting in improved team and individual performance.
As HR leaders, we understand the essential traits that are required for success include empathy, adaptability, strategic thinking, and a commitment to fostering a positive and empowering work culture. Effective communication and the ability to lead by example are also qualities I hold in high regard.
The Middle East is known for its diverse workforce. How do you harness the strengths and perspectives of employees from different backgrounds to create a cohesive and collaborative work environment?
In the Middle East’s diverse workforce, we don’t just tolerate differences—we celebrate them as strengths. I love the diverse mix of nationalities and cultures in the UAE and it continues to be a real hub of different nationalities, religions and cultures that respect and come together as individuals.
This is one of the main reasons I choose to live here. Having created and led a number of regional Diversity & Inclusion strategies and always striving to hire a diverse workforce, we view differences as strengths.
We promote cross-cultural collaboration, encourage employees to share their unique perspectives and celebrate diverse cultures and traditions, creating a cohesive and innovative work environment.
Employee development and growth are vital for both individuals and the organization. How do you ensure and support ongoing learning and professional development among its teams?
Each colleague’s development needs are different. Therefore, we offer a tailored approach and as part of regular performance reviews, where learning & development needs are discussed and any needs identified are agreed to be met.
These can include having access to diverse online learning resources for different categories/levels and offering opportunities for skill enhancement. Attending seminars and conferences to keep up to date with cutting-edge technology as well as networking.
There are mentorship and leadership trainings as well as continuous 360 feedback to develop and further improve one another. Our commitment to employee growth aligns with our belief that individual development fuels collective success.
In your opinion, what qualities or traits are essential for HR leaders in driving organizational success while nurturing a positive and empowering work culture?
Essential traits for HR leaders include empathy, adaptability, strategic thinking, and a commitment to fostering a positive and empowering work culture. Effective communication and the ability to lead by example are also crucial.
Looking ahead, what excites you the most about the role of HR in shaping the future of business and innovation in the Middle East and how do you envision your contribution to this exciting journey ahead?
With Artificial Intelligence supporting several HR processes, I am excited about how AI can aid to further speed up or improve HR processes allowing HR colleagues to be more people-focused rather than admin-focused.
HR Leaders will continue to contribute to the company’s success by nurturing a culture of continuous improvement, innovation and inclusion. This will empower our teams to drive the region’s business and innovation landscape forward to ensure growth and financial success.