Optiver’s 3 keys to talent management

Irene Frisby, HR manager for Optiver - recognised as Australia’s best place to work

There are three keys to successful talent management within Dutch-owned algorithmic trader Optiver – recognised as Australia’s best place to work, according to its HR manager Irene Frisby.

Finding the right people, empowering them and giving them the freedom to do their jobs, and a commitment to employee engagement are three keys which have helped the business grow to become a highly successful ‘market maker’ globally.

“Our people are definitely our biggest competitive advantage,” said Frisby. “We believe we have some of the best and brightest in the areas in which we recruit, and our approach is to be very specific and targeted in those markets.

“We only hire graduates into our trading roles because we have a specific style of trading that we prefer to teach. In IT, we hire both graduates and experienced professionals from a wide range of industries. You do not need to have a background in finance or trading to work at Optiver.”

Its talent scouts are continually out at universities across Australia and New Zealand, promoting the business to graduates from a variety of faculties.

“I would also say that we are very specific about the type of people we hire,” she said.

“Staff expect me to be a role model for the behaviours and culture we value, so I endeavour to reflect that in each communication and interaction – it has to be visible from the top”

“We are extremely conscious about maintaining and, of course, improving our culture. For this reason, we involve as many people as we can in the interview process to ensure that the person’s story is properly understood. When making a decision, everyone involved in the interview process looks at a number of different factors.”

All new “rookie” traders go through an intensive training program that has been developed internally. The program is facilitated by an internal trainer who puts them through six weeks of options theory and risk management training, and another six weeks in a simulated trading environment.

“Within three months they’re trading live in the market, and it is this that sets us apart from our competitors,” she said.

Luke McElnea, CEO of Optiver Asia-Pacific, plays an active role in managing talent within the company and is personally involved in the recruitment of people into senior positions within the company.

“I need to ensure that the new hires share Optiver’s values regarding the importance of our talent: high aptitude, positive energy and a good cultural fit. Furthermore, I try to make sure that these values are clear to hiring managers and HR at all levels,” he said.

“Staff expect me to be a role model for the behaviours and culture we value, so I endeavour to reflect that in each communication and interaction – it has to be visible from the top.

“Where I can, I encourage managers to provide appropriately-sized challenges – often projects or new responsibilities – for their employees to promote their growth and professional development.

“Lastly, I see it as my role to champion Optiver’s view that a focus on employee engagement drives staff retention. Coming into a great place to work every day is a lot of fun for me as well.”

For the full story on how Optiver became Australia’s best place to work see the current issue of Inside HR magazine.