Calico Life Sciences Head of Talent Matt Valentino

Matt ValentinoHead of Talent

Matt Valentino explains the strategic initiatives he’s planning to tackle once he hires two recruiters, his take on CRMs for talent, and the type of organizations talent teams must find in order to ensure representative pipelines.

Episode Transcript

00:00 Rob: Hello recruiters, sourcers, VPs of talent, fearless purveyors of open roles across the talent landscape, welcome back. It’s me again, Rob Stevenson, tucked away in a makeshift beat lab here at Hired HQ in San Francisco, California. And I’m just chomping at the bit here to bring you another absolute banger of a podcast. If this is your first time tuning in, here’s all you need to know. Every week, I bring in one of my favorite people in the recruitment space, directors of recruitment, heads of talent, VPs of HR, you name it, I’ll get ’em in here, and they all do primarily one thing: Talk talent to me.

00:41 Rob: And this week’s episode features Calico Life Sciences’ Head of Talent, Matt Valentino. And Matt has some really unique hiring challenges because the bulk of his company’s hiring is for scientists as opposed to the standard business functions that we’re all used to. So it’s a bit of a different sell, and it’s really difficult to scale because each role is so specialized. He’s also in the process of building out his recruiting team so he can get out of the open req weeds and into strategic programs, he shares what those programs are, and then we also got a little bit into CRMs for talent. Do you need a CRM? When do you need a CRM? How much can you really expect it or even need it to do? All of this and more in the next half hour. So please let’s all give a warm TTTM welcome to Calico Life Sciences’ Head of Talent, Matt Valentino.


01:44 Rob: Matt Valentino, Head of Talent for Calico Life Sciences is here. Matt, how are we?

01:47 Matt: Doing great.

01:48 Rob: Good, thanks for being here. How’s it going?

01:50 Matt: Very well, thanks for having me.

01:51 Rob: Yeah, absolutely. I’m excited to hear all about your company and your open roles and whatnot. So before we get too deep into it, can you… For the people listening at home or on treadmills or wherever it is they’re listening to podcasts, can you give us the high-level overview of what your company does?

02:08 Matt: Sure. Calico’s an Alphabet-owned company. We’re a biotech company focused really in, I guess, two areas of scientific research. First is the underlying causes of aging, and the second is drug discovery and development for age-related diseases. So ultimately we’ll develop medicines for things like cancer, neurodegenerative disorder, and metabolic disorders, if we’re successful.

02:31 Rob: Amazing. There’s a mission. [chuckle]

02:33 Matt: Yeah, it’s pretty lofty.

02:35 Rob: Yeah, I love it. So you’re probably hiring outside the standard business function departments, right?

02:42 Matt: Yeah, we have a very, I would say, lean G&A group at Calico, probably less than 15% of overall head count is in G&A. So finance, accounting, HR, operational functions, and the rest are almost all lab sciences or computer science, so 70-plus percent of our staff is that standard stock photo of people in white lab coats with the blue vial and the goggles.

03:07 Rob: Yeah. The test tube and the clipboard or something.

03:09 Matt: Yeah, exactly, looking up at it in awe, [chuckle] that’s a lot of our hiring. And then we have engineering, machine learning, and data science, and really data science, that’s where the folks have a foundation in biology, understanding of genetics, or a different discipline of biology.

03:26 Rob: Got it. And so your… What does your recruiting team look like?

03:29 Matt: So we’re pretty lean also, we have… There’s three full-time employees, including myself, so one recruiter, one full-time coordinator, and then I have a contractor coordinator. And then a couple open reqs, shameless plug, one university program’s opening right now, and then additional need to hire a full-cycle recruiter to take over the engineering, machine learning, and data science reqs.

03:54 Rob: Okay, which are… You’re working on those roles right now?

03:57 Matt: Yeah, yeah, I’m… We talked about this before, that player-coach role now, where I still have those reqs, I still manage the executive search, but then I have the broader Head of Talent responsibilities and diversity inclusion as well.

04:09 Rob: Got it. How do you enjoy that, the player-coach role?

04:11 Matt: I don’t recommend it. [chuckle] I think it’s hard to manage a full req load, and have client groups, and have areas like engineering that are challenging to begin with, as well as pay attention to reporting, systems, innovation, events, university strategy, I think that stuff all falls by the wayside as soon as you have a manager at your door tapping her finger or his finger saying, “I need people,” so I think it’s hard to do both. So I think it’s challenging. So yeah, it’s kind of where we are.

04:45 Rob: Right, right. And I can see why someone would take it, though. It’s a tempting role because, especially if you’re a mid-career person, they’ll say… You’ll get the title, you’ll get the Head of Director of whatever. And then they’ll say, “Yeah, we’ll give you a head count. Eventually, we’ll hire a team and then you can do the loftier scroll back strategic things,” But in the meantime, you’re stuck with a bunch of roles. And so that… You weren’t tempted by the title though, right? You had been there, done that.

05:10 Matt: No. I was tempted exclusively by the company and the people. So for me, it was a no-brainer going back from Pandora, couple thousand people, big company, 40 or so in recruiting, 20 or so in the talent acquisition function I ran, and pretty far removed from day-to-day work, and filled a req for 10 years by myself. And so I think the temptation was there was a marquee leadership team, there was really long-term secure funding in place. I like recruiting, I just think it’s hard to pair active live recruiting with a lot of the strategic work and do ’em concurrently, just because the market’s too tight right now to do both. But it was purely the company, it was purely the people in the company. We have an outstanding head of HR, we have really experienced leadership in the particular space we’re in, that’s a huge draw for talent. Some folks I had spent some time at Genentech early in my career, quite a few of us are… There’s probably 25 or 30 of us at Calico that grew up at some point at Genentech or spent the majority of our first careers there, and so I think that was all a draw for me.

06:22 Rob: Got it. So you get into Calico, you haven’t filled a role in 10 years, and now you gotta roll up your sleeves and get into the sourcing tools or the ATS or whatever. What was that like?

06:34 Matt: I was scared. [chuckle] I called my wife, who runs a large talent function, and I said, “I hope they don’t figure me out. I haven’t done this for 10 years.” And anyway, it was probably a really terrible first screening phone call with a candidate where they’re like, “This guy’s a rookie.” [laughter] But anyway, I liked it. One thing I think where there’s a real value in that, particularly coming into leadership is, I know all the roles, I know the nuances of what the recruiters who are coming in now will experience with our systems, with our process; I got to design most of it, and I think that’s part of the benefit, particularly coming into a startup where we got to build everything from scratch. We had very little in place, and it was scrappy, and it was however you gotta get it done when you’re 14 or 15 people to being able to say, “Okay, here, we need a process around this,” starting with we have to be able to background check. We have these basics and putting all those basics in place. And we’re now at a point, I think, at 200 where we’re shifting the gear, where it’s like, okay, now we need to start to look at scale, we need to start to look at repeatability in process, we need to start to have employment branding, and a whole lot of other things.

07:37 Matt: But I think, back to your original question, I think the opportunity to do it is when the company feels like…

07:43 Rob: You have to, yeah.

07:44 Matt: This is special, and that’s how I feel about Calico.

07:47 Rob: Oh I see, okay. Yeah, and it’s an opportunity from a philosophical standpoint, too, to say, “This is how we source, this is how we message, this is how we phone screen. Let’s put in these building blocks to a repeatable process that if you were to inherit… ” Come in later at Pandora, for example, the way that this recruiting and sourcing is being done is already in motion, and you may not ever get to a place where you can go rip and replace that, right?

08:14 Matt: Yeah.

08:14 Rob: You’re just like, “Well, we have the pipeline coming in, so whatever, it’s good enough.”

08:18 Matt: Yeah. It’s sometimes hard to unwind a lot of that legacy, so hopefully we can build it right, or at least the way I think is right, and our team and our company thinks is right from the get-go.

08:27 Rob: Unwinding legacy, that’s good. That’s much better than the way I said it. [laughter] You should be hosting this thing. So you don’t recommend being a hands-on player-coach head of talent, but it happens.

08:40 Matt: I think what you said is right, that there’s a time and place where I think it’s a really good opportunity. I certainly did it, and I’m thrilled. And I think certainly people who have it… That’s their opportunity to get out of that recruiter role and into leadership, mentorship, looking at metrics, looking at systems and strategy; I think there’s a perfect time and place for it. But I think, as you’ve matriculated past that, sometimes it’s hard to think about going back.

09:07 Rob: Of course, of course.

09:08 Matt: Yeah.

09:08 Rob: So once you fill those two roles, hopefully with listeners of this podcast, [chuckle] what are the more strategic things that you’re hoping to be able to focus on?

09:19 Matt: Yeah. I think our broader sourcing strategy and how we approach sourcing, we fill a lot of unique roles. Last year, let’s say, we filled 50 or so roles, 29 of them or so were with unique hiring managers, and the majority of them in unique skill sets, so we have very little repeatability. So we certainly need to build a sourcing system that supports that type of hiring, lots of one-offs, I think increased effort around our university programs. We hire a lot of people out of PhD programs, and postdoc programs, and now starting to look at undergrads and master’s level scientists coming in, so build more substantial relationships around our university outreach event strategy.

10:00 Matt: And then I think the third big bucket we’re working on next year is for diversity. We have really good representation right now, but to be able to continue on in those areas and really increase, create relationships with a lot of communities where we wanna attract talent from, make sure people are aware of the opportunities. We can recruit nationally, we have relocation, we have a lot of things that… Leverage we can pull to really… I think the limitations are the amount of horsepower we can put behind these programs, ’cause we’re well-funded and we have support from the organization. People think… We don’t have to worry about that side of our programs, like getting buy-in, it’s already there.

10:36 Rob: Right, right. That’s so great, and important to have those outreach programs. I’d love to hear more about that because it strikes me that… You mentioned you have this archetypal profile of a scientist you would hire. Typically, that’s someone who’s gonna have been through academia, have been through a college or university that can afford to have all these facilities and labs and whatnot. Is there a socioeconomic problem to the access of those kind of labs that could make diversity hiring even more difficult than it already is?

11:12 Matt: Yeah. I don’t wanna talk out of turn ’cause I don’t know the stats, but I would say yes, that there’s a socioeconomic issue in terms of people being able to access Harvard and MIT and Princeton and Caltech and all of those things, so I think it’s up to us to have deliberate efforts looking elsewhere, to use applications… We use Handshake, it’s great, it blasts our jobs out to 500 universities.

11:34 Rob: Great.

11:35 Matt: It tells us when stuff’s going on at the women’s schools at the historically Black…

11:38 Rob: HBCUs, yeah, yeah.

11:39 Matt: Yeah, historically Black colleges. So I think it’s just about deliberate effort to… Certainly we wanna target populations at those universities, ’cause there’s great… But we have to deliberately look elsewhere. Cal State Hayward, UC Santa Cruz, places that are here in our backyard have great programs in our domains that we need to get the message out to that Calico is a great place to work.

12:02 Matt: We also then work with groups that are various… A lot of PhD and postdoc students have these grassroots organizations that spring up, like Beyond Academia, which is for scientists who wanna transition out of academics into industry. Many of them are gender or diversity focused, so it’s a matter of us getting in touch with those. Unfortunately, they’re really fragmented, so we have to do manual outreach and call around, or wait for them to call us, so we just need to put the horsepower there, too. We work with one outstanding group back East called The Scientista Foundation, which was started by two sisters who didn’t think… They were going through a PhD and med school program, and they didn’t think they had enough support out there, mentors, so they started this program and now it’s 550 people.

12:44 Rob: Amazing.

12:44 Matt: We’re in our second year of sponsorship, we actually have hired people that have stood across the table from and shook their hand at the event.

12:49 Rob: Great.

12:49 Matt: And now we’re going back with… The woman we hired from the event last year who’s coming back is our representative. She’s a postdoc cancer researcher, and so she’ll be there manning the booth for us. So I think it’s finding organizations like that that’ll really help us turn the needle.

13:04 Rob: What is Scientista exactly?

13:06 Matt: It’s a grassroots organization that’s started, again, by these two sisters back East that were in graduate school programs, and it’s really a support network for female scientists that are at all sorts of schools, from state schools, to fancy ivy league schools, and everything in between. And it’s really a program that helps support them from a scholarship perspective, career development, resources, mentorship, and then also now career fairs. And they’ve got… They’re expanding. It’s localized out there right now, but we’re starting to see it matriculate again to the West Coast. But we’ve now sponsored their events and now hired people out of their organization; it’s been a great pool for us.

13:45 Rob: Yeah. And it’s great to hear that organization exists, and it’s better to hear that you found it, right?

13:51 Matt: Yeah.

13:52 Rob: Because these places do exist, but they don’t just jump out and bite you when you’re doing your standard sourcing searches that you’ve become used to in one’s career, that you’re like, “This is my reliable Google X-ray string,” or “This is my reliable source or whatever that I’ve been using,” and you have to hunt these places down.

14:08 Matt: Yeah. And we rely a lot on our people who are in these populations. We ask them where… “Who did you connect with when you were at school? How’d you get from Africa to Toronto to South San Francisco to work at Calico? And what were the groups that helped you do that, and how can we network with them? And do you still have affiliations?” So we go around and deliberately ask that from our people, and they’ve come up with a lot of them for us.

14:36 Rob: Right, right. Yeah. I guess it’s the same challenge with hiring for the G&A, as you called it, departments. But I feel like it would just be even more difficult because it’s not… Software engineers are hard enough, but then scientists, this very specific, unique role, and scientists who have experience working on age-related disease as well.

15:02 Matt: Yeah, it’s a narrow sliver of people. I think last year we… The exact number’s maybe 46 hires and maybe 14,000 applicants.

15:10 Rob: Woah.

15:10 Matt: So just in general, it’s a really narrow sliver of people that we’re hiring overall, and then you layer in the complexities around diversity hiring, gender, gender diversity, all that. So yeah, we have to just be very, very deliberate about our approach and seeking out opportunities to make people aware of the jobs at Calico.

15:29 Rob: So because they’re so specialized, I imagine it isn’t like if you were working at a bigger company, or even in a company where the hiring is more standard and you’re like, “Alright, we’re gonna hire 30 software engineers or 100 software engineers,” but with this sort of hiring you’re doing, they’re all gonna have these unique skill sets, right? So you’re not hiring the same role over and over again.

15:50 Matt: Yeah, we hire… There’s very few repeat roles, I would say, on an annual basis that come up. We have a few in engineering where we look at back-end engineers, data engineers, or full stack developers, machine learning engineers, maybe there’s some repeatability in that pocket. But for the most part, there’s not pipelines where we can move from hiring manager A to B, when a new req comes up, there’s not pipelines where we could say, “Okay, let’s build it now, and we’re gonna need one a quarter for the next four quarters.” It rarely happens that way for us.

16:21 Rob: So you have these one-off hires, essentially.

16:24 Matt: Yeah, correct.

16:25 Rob: How do you build a repeatable process when you have such a different set of needs?

16:31 Matt: So what we’ve decided to do is, one, hire recruiters who can work across a recruiter base, myself, Samantha, for example. We can pick up any reqs across, so we have to have some general capabilities across research and development where we can’t have recruiters who are so specialized. I think that’s one, so we can divide the reqs up however we need to. I think the second thing is we’ve off-shored the pipelining piece, the internet research, so going to LinkedIn and building profiles and projects to getting those profiles into our CRMs, into our talent pools or pipelines. We’ve offshored a lot of that work, so we work with a team that’s in Vietnam, a company called vsource, that we can give six or eight different projects every night. When we go home at 6:00, they open their door. So they’re working all night, so we get it in the morning. And we might have 100 people in certain pools, and we could turn them off and on to anything. I could point ’em at cancer researchers, neuroscientists, I could point ’em at BD, I could point ’em at my recruiter job, and they can work across anyone.

17:32 Matt: And they just basically do the internet research. We give them targeted companies, we give them target profiles, we give them the job descriptions, or we have them map out companies where there’s layoffs or site closures, which happens a lot in biotech and pharma. So we can say, “There’s a site in Emeryville for a big drug company that’s closing down,” and we could say, “Okay, vsource, go find us all these people at this site who may be marginalized by this layoff or site shutdown who work in these disciplines.” And then they’ll start to feed them to us, and then we can get those. We can go through ’em for the two or three weeks that we need ’em, and then we can set it aside for a year.

18:08 Rob: So all they’re doing is generating lists of name for you, essentially? They’re not doing any outreach or…

18:11 Matt: No outreach. They have that capability, we don’t… For our purposes, we don’t think it’s an effective… We just don’t think it’ll be a great candidate experience for us, where we are right now. If I was hiring 100 salespeople, maybe I would turn that on. But I think for our discipline, we just want ’em to do the research. We’re too picky, I think, at the end of the day, so we still wanna… Within the volume of research they do still pick and choose the people that we wanna engage with.

18:36 Rob: That’s a huge chunk of time you’re saving by… You basically get… They’re generating leads for you in the same way that a marketer would generate names for a sales team, and they’re like, “Alright, here are these qualified people we think would be a good fit,” and they’re gonna arrive directly in your inbox, and now you get to go down the list and decide who you actually wanna take a whack at.

18:55 Matt: Absolutely. That’s exactly the way it works. And I’ve known companies… Recruiters who have transitioned into, say, software sales who’ve used this same resource in the exact way, find us all these people at these companies, or everywhere certain companies have sites, so they’ve certainly… They’ve pivoted and done that type of research as well. But yeah, conceptually, it’s the exact same thing.

19:16 Rob: Recruiting lead gen. Is that a gap in the HR tech market?

19:20 Matt: I don’t know.

19:22 Rob: Should we quit and start us a company, Matt?

19:23 Matt: I don’t know. I would never sell software into HR.

19:25 Rob: I know, yeah.

19:26 Matt: Tough crowd.

19:28 Rob: Right, yeah, yeah. Well, we don’t have to sell it. [chuckle]

19:30 Matt: Yeah. [chuckle]

[overlapping conversation]

19:31 Rob: We’ll use [19:31] ____.

19:31 Matt: Just come up with the… [chuckle] Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Perfect, perfect.

19:35 Rob: That is really fascinating, though. So it’s essentially… You’ve not automated, but outsourced a huge chunk of what a sourcer would traditionally do, and then you can move to the, alright, we can just focus on outreach, focus on maybe one processing engagement.

19:49 Matt: Yeah, engagement… Yeah. And I kinda bucket it all in engagement outreach, one component of that, but there are certain populations where we know they might not come, but we might wanna drip feed ’em every six months. We had a good press release this week with a big hire. There’s certain populations, say, that work in certain… That may not come, but I might wanna say, “Hey,” just to contact: This great thing happened for us here and let me be able to power that through our CRM. But it’s a great resource. And, yeah, we outsource that outside the top of the funnel work, or I’ve use them in the past to do things like, “Hey, we’re thinking about opening in Portland. How many engineers exist there?” And then they can map it out. “How many open jobs are there? What do we think the opportunity is?” We did that at Pandora, for example. So it’s just a nimble resource. And also turn it off if we don’t need it. Crank it up, add more resources over there. So I think that’s been a key differentiator for how we have to approach our sourcing.

20:44 Rob: Yeah, absolutely. And you said it’s conceptually the same as marketing, generating names for a sales team. But in the event that the lead, the marketing generated wasn’t ready or wasn’t a good fit, what happens? Oh, Salesforce says, “Return to marketing,” and they go back in your campaigns, which also is not a thing that was happening really in recruitment until recently. And now you have the advent of the CRM tools which you mentioned you’re using one. Can you just tell me a little bit about how you’re using the CRM? ‘Cause it’s popping up more and more, a bunch of these companies are introducing products. I’m hearing from recruiters that they’re basically like, “Yeah, before this I had a paper CRM, I was just keeping tracks of names of candidates.” What are you supposed to do when a candidate tells you, “Now is not the right time to reach out,” or “Now is not the right time for a career move, but follow-up with me in six months?”

21:34 Rob: I remember even not that long ago, there was the solution, the stop-gap was like, “Oh, here’s this tool, this Gmail add-on, and it’ll send you a reminder in six months, email them again.” Okay, that works, but it’s really clunky. So just from the point of view of the talent market, I guess… I don’t even know if I have a question. [chuckle] Is CRM good, is it important, should every company have a talent CRM, I guess is my question?

22:01 Matt: I think so. I certainly think companies that are growing and have to worry about anything from hiring a fair number of people in hard-to-find skill sets to succession planning. There’s all sorts of different areas to… Mapping certain people that you might need in a couple years as you expand. So I would say absolutely yes. I think it’s tricky, though, because it takes time, money, effort to set up, it’s sometimes… We’re all integrated, we use the Greenhouse CRM and the Greenhouse ATS, so things like communication that are challenging, we had Pandora, we had Avature, and we had Jobvite, and they didn’t talk. So you’ve got 20 people doing a lot of cutting and pasting of names to check and see if there’s conflicts or whatever the case may be, the history of the candidate.

22:45 Matt: It was funny when you were mentioning about the paper files. When I started recruiting a long time ago, we got a stack of recipe cards and we got one of those old three by five recipe boxes with…

22:56 Rob: Like a Rolodex?

22:58 Matt: This wasn’t even a Rolodex, it was a… It was just literally a plastic box and it had a divider for January, February, March, April. So if someone said, “Call me in April,” you’d literally…

23:07 Rob: Note card goes in there.

23:08 Matt: Put their name on the note card, put it in April, you get to April, you pull out your April note cards and you start flicking through ’em, and then you move some to August, and that was our system.

23:15 Rob: Paper CRM.

23:16 Matt: Yeah, paper CRM. I should have called Marc Benioff. [laughter] But I don’t know, I think it’s really critical and the thing is as long as you can power it… If you’re a team of one, CRM doesn’t make sense, I don’t think. If you’re a team of two or three, maybe it does, but you have to have power, and I think you have to have a dedicated person to source and manage it, I think that’s when it becomes useful.

23:39 Rob: Part of the benefit, too, is you’re managing a relationship with a candidate, or in the historical use of CRM, of an account, a sales account, and you don’t want other reps, or in this case recruiters, reaching out to the same person you did. It’s just bad experience. And so if you emailed someone and they said, “No, not right now, but ask me again in six months,” and then your colleague emails them three weeks later, they’re gonna be like, “Leave me alone. Who are you people? I already told your friend Matt not to email me yet.” So that’s part of… And so as you say, for a team of one or three, maybe, maybe not, but as you get bigger there’s just all these names, there’s recruiters who are… And sourcers sending dozens of emails a day and you can definitely step on each other’s toes, right?

24:24 Matt: Yeah, absolutely. And we had that problem at Pandora. And we had so much legacy of recruiting for 10 or 15 years there that when we put in Avature, it was challenging off the bat, but the end product was so much better after we got it working, we got everyone trained. And I think you can look for the CRM to do too much for you. There’s limitations. You move candidates through a workflow, you get to an outcome, you decide if they’re gonna go into your applicant process or not, and wash, rinse, repeat. And I think people just tend to make it 20 steps when you might only need three or four. And so I think simply-ing it down is the way to go.

25:00 Rob: Right. You don’t have to reskill as an email marketer. You can just make sure that the data is clean and that you don’t email this person again in two weeks.

25:07 Matt: Yeah. It sounds simple.

25:09 Rob: Right. [chuckle]

25:10 Matt: Is it? Is this just an… ‘Cause I keep seeing this, and it’s the Silicon Valley way, it’s like find a tool that exists for one department and not for another, and make it for that one, which has been, honestly, a lot of HR tech in the last six years. Is it that simple? Is it just, yeah, we need this marketing and sales has had these toys, recruiting should have them too, but it shouldn’t be Salesforce because it needs to be specific to individual names?

25:35 Matt: Yeah, I don’t know, ’cause I know companies that are using Salesforce, for example, as a recruiting CRM. So I think as you talk about where can you leverage the rest of the company to help do this work, we certainly… Pandora’s a marketing company, so when I got there, that was huge exposure to all the things Pan… They’re like, “Let’s put an ad and target people who have zip codes in the East Bay, but in the morning, they’re on Pandora commuting to Sunnyvale. And, “Let’s target them with a ‘You could be home now, and working at Pandora,'” and stuff like that where I was like, “Okay, that’s not a recruiting thought, that’s a marketer’s thought.” And it’s coming together. And we had great people who had from marketing who came into employment branding and experience who were taking all of those… The history of all of that marketing work they had done, and then just pointing it at recruiting.

26:22 Matt: And so we really started to see… I really started to see different practices there where… The point of the CRM wasn’t always… It was to get messaging out to populations of people that we wanted to know. It was all these different things we could do, it was when we hosted events, when we were at South by Southwest, or we were going to Grace Hopper, we had speakers we wanted to showcase, we could use a CRM to do all those other things. And I thought that was a really cool… Learning from working for a really marketing-driven company and applying it to recruiting, and also having people there who were total pros, who could come up with the ideas, and plan events, and do all this creative stuff, and I’m like, “Yes let’s do that.”

26:57 Rob: This is amazing, yeah.

26:57 Matt: “You’re gonna do all that work? For us? Let’s go.”

27:00 Rob: Well, that’s the thing, having that resource. Most talent teams, even if they have a marketing department at their company that is that with it, they’re not gonna, as you say, point it at recruiting, which is frustrating.

27:11 Matt: Yeah. And it was nice ’cause we had a group that was employment branding and experience, but they were already… They all were ex-marketers, so they were our go-between between main corporate marketing, brand marketing, all those other areas.

27:24 Rob: I won’t say recruiting is like marketing ’cause that really bums me out when you hear the, “Recruiting is like sales, recruiting is like marketing, recruiting is like dating.” It’s like, stop it. Recruiting is recruiting, it’s multidisciplinary. A lot of roles are like that. Is there gonna be that need, when you look towards a future of what a recruiter skill set looks like in five or 10 years, to be able to have that tool on their tool belt, or will there just be more connection between marketing and recruiting, necessarily?

27:54 Matt: I think it’s probably both. So for an organization like us, we need the recruiters to have it because we don’t have branding, we don’t have corporate communications, we have very little. So I think it depends, whereas if you go to an advertising-based company or platform that sells ads and creates content, you probably have the resources available, and probably better to rely on somebody else and not try to do the work. So I think it just depends on the type of company you’re working for, and are they commercially focused, are they not? Are they commercially focused now, and maybe those people come down the road, depending on what type of company it is.

28:29 Rob: Yeah, yeah. Once you get those two roles filled that’s gonna be a growing concern for you though, right, or growing area of focus anyway?

28:36 Matt: Yeah, I think so. And we’re fortunate to be able to bring in a great firm to help. We’re actually doing website redesign right now and starting to do the early work on what we call telling the Calico story. And there’s a lot of narratives, if you Google us and see the name, you’ll see a lot of super secretive and… Not really the case. We have tons of scientific publications, people can figure out exactly what we’re doing. But we’re not really good at getting the message out on a broader scale, getting it out past South San Francisco crowd to other biotech research markets that we need to get at. So yeah, we’ll take on a lot of that work. And fortunately, we’ve got experts that are helping us get there.

29:18 Rob: Yeah. I think that’s smarter to… Assuming you can have the resources, to be able to outsource a little bit, like you’re doing with the vsource, like you’re doing with this agency, rather than reskilling as a marketer for a brief period of time while you get these programs up. It just doesn’t seem like a good use the time.

29:33 Matt: Yeah, I’ve tried I’m terrible at it.


29:36 Rob: There’s nothing to it. Marketing, are you kidding?

29:38 Matt: Yeah, easy, right?

29:38 Rob: You just turn on a microphone and hope for the best. [chuckle]

29:40 Matt: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Guess I’ve given it a shot now, right?

29:43 Rob: Yeah, absolutely. Well, this has been really interesting. We’re creeping up on optimal podcast length, or at least optimal Talk Talent To Me podcast length. So really great chatting with you, Matt. If you’re out there in podcast land, and you like the sound of Calico Life Sciences, and you want a role that’s an executive recruiter position because you are looking for very specific people, one off at a time, then slide into Matt Valentino’s DMs on LinkedIn and tell him you’re interested and you wanna hear more. And besides that, Matt, I guess at this point I would just say thank you so much for joining us…

30:17 Matt: Yeah, thanks very much.

30:18 Rob: This has been a blast, and good luck with all those hires, and with those two hires specifically.

30:23 Matt: Yeah, thanks so much. Great to be here.

30:25 Rob: And to all you out there in podcast land, thank you so much for joining us once more. Matt Valentino has been Matt Valentino, I’ve been Rob Stevenson, and you’ve all been amazing, wonderful, talented, recruiting darlings. Have a spectacular week, and happy hunting.


30:44 Rob: Talk Talent To Me is brought to you by Hired, a double opt-in global marketplace connecting the best fit active talent to the most exciting recruiting organizations. If you would like to learn more about how we can help you find your next great hire, head to and we’ll get started.