Why Most Founders Engage Us for their VP Product Search

Finding a VP of anything can be tough. The more senior the role, the more expectations and requirements a candidate needs to have - none more so than a VP of Product. Hiring a Product Leader to come in and take over the reins and direction of your product can be a daunting and stressful task. This hire is one a business cannot afford to get wrong and one that many Founders rely on a third party to help ensure success in their search process.

The following are the five main reasons why our firm is trusted to lead the effort to find a company's first VP Product.

Practice Power

While most search firms don't organize themselves in practices, we do. Our Senior Recruiter, who solely focuses on Product Placements, has over 22 years of search experience, 12 of which have been solely focused on Product Management executives. We also have a dedicated practice team that includes researchers and support members who enable us to scale and provide speed without sacrificing results. 

The benefits to having a dedicated Product Management recruiting team are many, but here are the main ones:

  • Often, we are already engaged within the community of skills and experiences you have an interest in hiring
  • Due to the number of VP Product searches we do, Martyn Bassett Associates are trained in this unique persona - the top skills and experience necessary for a successful hire
  • Highly sought after candidates may be more likely to respond and engage with us because of our reputation in the product industry versus other generalist firms or your own internal HR/recruiters


When it comes to hiring a practice leader, time is your enemy and your time is running out. We are often hired after the company has already made some sort of effort on its own. Maybe they thought their personal networks would be interested or have the skills and experiences the stakeholders wanted. Or maybe they thought they would have the time to dedicate to executing the level of outbound activity required to give stakeholders a proper sampling of interested candidates. Whatever the reason, they didn't get the outcome they wanted and now panic has set in. Well maybe not 'panic', but the reality is that they are still a company without a VP Product.

The benefit of hiring a third party like us is that all of our time is invested in recruitment. The sole purpose of our business is to complete search assignments. Having our Product Practice enables us to use our time even more efficiently to focus on the outcome our clients want, and to do so at scale.

Read about one of our placed VP Product hires and how they have added value to our client’s organization over the last two years.

Location Agnostic 

While our company is based in Toronto, our clients are often based in major cities across Canada and the US. Our team is used to working across time zones and covering a wide geography; meaning we have the dedicated resources to conduct searches at a global level.

Pre-Covid, we were often asked to recruit in cities outside of Toronto. Vancouver companies wanted western Canadian talent, Montreal companies wanted Montreal or Ottawa talent, Atlantic Canadian companies wanted talent in the Maritimes and who can forget the Kitchener/Water bubble whose start-ups are always hoping world-class talent wakes up to the fact that they are an impressive tech hub and would be willing to relocate there. 

However, in a Covid-19 world, the willingness of employers to consider candidates from a larger pool of international talent is a new reality. What Research in Motion (Blackberry) began with the ability to be remote, but still connected has finally been fully realized. Candidates can now be anywhere and still be truly connected and successful.

This new reality has had little effect on how we execute since we are continually being asked to recruit across North America, and occasionally in Western Europe and in the UK. What has happened, however, is that our international efforts are more likely to yield a hire given the new flexibility of employers to forgo a relocation requirement for a remote employee arrangement.

We are Neutral & Discreet

It's not unusual for a client to make special requests about the search strategy. These special requests can take many forms, but the most common request is to recruit from a specific set of companies, often partners or competitors. For obvious reasons, many employers can not risk actively engaging with candidates connected to these organizations as that could ring the alarm bells or alert competitors to potential future updates or shifts in product focus.

Another reason why a third party recruitment firm may be used is to apply a discreet approach if the role is for someone being replaced or a succession plan is being created for a future event. We are skilled in executing such searches, the most "famous" of which was when Thalmic Labs engaged us to recruit a VP Product and the entire search was completed without anyone knowing what the actual product would be. Since then Thalmic rebranded to North and was acquired by Google in 2020 for an undisclosed sum.

Whatever the reason needed for a discreet and confidential outbound targeted approach, engaging with a third party will help you to execute that type of search strategy without worrying about a major internal information breach and office politics fall-out.


The definition of a partnership is an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests. Our experience has taught us that organizations who view our relationship as a partnership will achieve the best outcome from engaging us. Why? Because they aren’t focused on a one-time transaction request. Rather they want to work with us so we can become an extension of the team, focused on securing the talent needed to propel a business and its initiatives forward. We do this by:

Mutually sharing information: As a partner, we share our market knowledge to help you better understand the current conditions and provide you with context to help make the right hiring decisions for your organization. As a partner, you share information concerning interview feedback, concerns, pro/con lists, and salary alignment. 

Time in the process: We expect both parties will commit to weekly progress meetings for insights and feedback sharing. This way everyone is aware of where we are at and the next steps in the process.

Transparency/Honesty: Both parties will be expected to disclose information that may help (or hinder) the outcome we are seeking. As your recruitment team, we provide information on a candidate's competitive search efforts (to the degree they provide it to us) and we expect our partners to disclose any outside influences which may have an impact on the search progress (changes to investment, resignations/terminations of stakeholders, vacation schedules, etc.) 

Most importantly, we will challenge thinking that is unrealistic to the current market conditions, employment trends, or equal opportunity employment legislation. As a partner, we are not there for a quick sell, rather we want to ensure our partners are set up for long term success with the person (or people) they hire.

For even more perspective about how we do what we do, here are the 4 ways your search partner adds value when it comes time to extend an offer to the person you want to hire as your new VP Product.

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