Andrew Duncan

Andrew is a Talent Director at Atomico, based in London, where he supports portfolio companies in finding and hiring elite executive talent. He’s responsible for advising founders on the evolution of their leadership teams and oversees the Atomico Expert Network (AEN), designed to provide portfolio companies with access to proven technology leaders regardless of function or geography.

I most enjoy partnering with early-stage founders who challenge themselves to hire top leaders across their organisation. Whether you’re at Seed stage or pre-IPO, strategic hiring is one of the most effective ways for entrepreneurs to find leverage and ensure that their businesses and teams can scale - and a tool that’s key to building diverse leadership teams.

My search for top talent has taken me across the globe.

I was fortunate to train in executive search with a specialist boutique firm in Silicon Valley. This was my education in the venture, technology, and enterprise software ecosystems. Many of the companies we supported became category-defining brands and market leaders,and subsequently went through multi-billion dollar IPOs and M&A transactions.

From there, I had a chance to move to London in 2016 and haven’t looked back since; I was lucky to arrive at a moment when the European start-up and venture capital scale-up ecosystem was expanding rapidly.

I love the dynamism of hiring executive talent in Europe today - there’s so much interest globally in the European technology and software spaces. European companies consistently compete for top executives in the US, and I love that European companies can access talent from anywhere. The first executive hire I led after moving to London involved relocating an entire family from Brazil to Portugal.

Hiring executives is like any other craft or skill - it takes a lot of time, patience, and dedication.

Hiring and closing talent at the highest level takes a huge amount of persistence. It's no coincidence that the top entrepreneurs are great recruiters, but they weren’t born that way. It’s rewarding to help founders hone their approach to hiring executives, and to help ensure they’re spending time with people who can meaningfully impact their businesses.

Naturally, this can be a bit scary or intimidating, but founders should continuously invest their time in experienced leaders who have demonstrated track records in managing growth across dynamic and diverse teams.

Directly before Atomico I spent five years as a member of the senior team at The Up Group - a specialist executive hiring firm that was successfully acquired in 2020.

While at Up, I learned from a world-class team of executive recruiters during a fascinating period in the European tech ecosystem. I was also fortunate to support Atomico as a client when they hired two members of the senior investment team. In these processes, I was able to spend lots of time with Atomico and got to know the firm’s culture and values - this made my decision to join the firm easy and straightforward in the end.

My degrees are in political philosophy and English literature.

I’m sometimes asked how these have been useful in my career - it might sound like a stretch, but I think literature teaches us a huge amount about empathy and can fine-tune our abilities to read and assess others. This is hugely valuable in navigating the complex world of hiring and talent.

At the weekend, you can usually find me trekking around south London with my two daughters on the back of a cargo bike.

I was a long-time sceptic about bikes with batteries, but I’ve now seen the light and can usually be found pottering to or from a playground on the urban equivalent of a minivan.

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