A UneeQ approach to helping a startup scale


May 10, 2022

A UneeQ approach to helping a startup scale

What is your job title?

I was the Chief People Officer at UneeQ from March 2019 until July 2022, responsible for leading the People function.  I am still involved with UneeQ as a consultant. 

Can you give a brief description of your company?

UneeQ digital humans enable companies to reimagine the customer experience through a conversational platform designed around leveraging the ‘human touch’ to create meaningful experiences for their customers at scale. As an AI company, we use machine learning and deep tech to solve challenging technical problems.  Right now, digital humans are being deployed as brand ambassadors, digital influencers, customer support representatives and healthcare advisors to name a few.

UneeQ is headquartered in Auckland, New Zealand, with people and teams in the USA (including our CEO) , Australia and Europe.  

What was the challenge UneeQ faced when recruiting?

When I started at UneeQ, we’d just completed a series A capital raise and needed to hire a number of people fast!.

On top of this we had a UneeQness ;) to our product where we were using cutting edge technology encompassing Computer Vision, Golang which was not so widely used in New Zealand, and other technologies. Essentially, we needed to find people that were the hardest to find in New Zealand, while also establishing and growing our customer facing team in the USA

Like most startups, our team was stretched and we didn’t have strong technical recruiting expertise or capacity internally. We needed a recruitment partner that not only had a strong industry network in New Zealand but also a solid understanding of the tech so that they could find and shortlist candidates who could work with our tech stack. 

How did you find out about Talent Army?

I had previously worked alongside Troy Hammond at Vend and I was stoked when he subsequently started Talent Army as it seemed like there was a real gap in the market for a recruitment company specialising in supporting startups and scale ups.  In the years that followed, I saw Talent Army grow its team and reputation and they were my first call when we needed help recruiting at UneeQ. 

When did you start working with us?

March 2019, literally the first week in my new role with UneeQ. 

What was the beginning of the engagement with our company like?

It was clear from the beginning that Dan Buchanan (Talent Army - Auckland) really cared about truly understanding our business.  Beyond eliciting requirements for any given role we were recruiting for, he asked insightful questions about the business more generally, such as our values, our strategic goals, current challenges, existing team members and structure, and what people loved about working here.

I felt confident Dan and the team would be able to represent our company and career opportunities really well.  Dan also helped us refine our value proposition which was super helpful for employer branding and updating our careers page.  They actually spent a day a week in our office as we were going through the initial scaling period and it was awesome for us to have the extra support and advice, especially in those early days. 

Talent Army essentially became an extension of our business from that day and in the years since they’ve helped us recruit for both technical and non-technical roles. 

It was a true partnership from day one

"It was a true partnership from day one and I cannot think of any instances where Talent Army was not able to fill a role. "

Kimberley Gilmour
Kimberley Gilmour

Chief People Officer




Did you evaluate other recruiters in the market first?

When I started at UneeQ, it was on the back of the Series A capital raise.  We knew we were going to grow the team significantly and wanted to establish a deeper relationship with a preferred recruiter, rather than working with multiple recruiters on the same or similar roles.  Yes, we did evaluate other recruiters, including those that UneeQ had previously worked with. 

What made you decide to go with Talent Army?

It was a combination of things. Rather than coming in and telling us how amazing they were, Talent Army asked great questions and listened to us and our challenges.  They weren’t pushy or arrogant.  They also had strong industry and market knowledge as well as great relationships with a lot of people in the NZ tech ecosystem. Plus they were easy to get along with and super reliable. Their communication and follow through was excellent.  Their rates were very competitive as well. 

Talent Army offered us a solution which was much more valuable than just sending us CV’s. They were able to tailor a recruitment approach that worked with our type of company at our stage of growth and provide wrap-around support when it came to building assessments and advising on salaries. 

How did Talent Army help solve the challenges you faced?

Talent Army took a lot of the heavy lifting of tech recruiting off our hands, from sourcing great people to setting up interviews, to running our ATS. Their deep technical knowledge gave them the ability to understand if someone would be a good fit for our tech stack. In a period of growth, where our technical leaders cannot dedicate all of their time to recruitment, this allowed our team to focus on our own jobs day to day, spending their recruiting time meeting with pre-screened candidates.

They also gave us the ability to access great candidates in the market who were not actively looking for jobs. This was especially important when borders shut and the market was super tight.  

Talent Army advised on market salaries which helped us with accurate budgeting when we were filling roles, and was also really useful when it came time to do our company-wide salary reviews. 

What are the things you loved most about working with Talent Army? 

It felt like a really genuine relationship. Not at all a traditional “recruiter/ client” or transactional relationship. We entered into a relationship of trust and respect with them. 

I would often talk with the people we hired via Talent Army and the overwhelming feedback was Dan and the team were massive advocates and ambassadors of our company.  They said Talent Army was great to work with from a candidate experience which was important to us as well. 

I cannot think of any instances where Talent Army was not able to fill a role they were briefed on. Some roles took longer of course and I really appreciated how Dan didn’t sugar coat challenges, he was great with communicating progress and challenges along the way so we could adapt and manage the work we needed to do internally. There were never any promises made that were not fulfilled which kept trust really high.

If I was to reflect on why our relationship with Talent Army was so successful, a huge part of it was because they took the time and care to really understand our business.  Their briefing process is comprehensive and super effective and that meant not only did they understand what we were looking for, but they also understood what the experience was likely to be like for candidates coming into UneeQ.  

What would you say to other people considering us?

Do it. You won’t regret it. They are excellent at what they do.  The team is great, the experience is enjoyable, and the quality of people that comes through is exceptionally high. 

You will love working with the team at Talent Army

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