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Salary Insights: COO

We were recently engaged by an international client to conduct a search for a Toronto based COO. Our client is a European based energy company with a global presence. They had recently acquired a new business and needed a hire with a ‘partnership mindset’ in order to work with the Founder/CEO while also reporting to the acquired company’s Board of Directors.

Their ideal candidate would need to have experience working for a B2B SaaS vendor, and being part of a successful growth story. They identified the ideal candidate as someone who would be able to bring process, rigour and best practices to their newly acquired business, which was still operating as a startup with fewer than 50 people. They also expressed an interest in considering candidates with a background in law.

We presented a range of candidates to our client:

The Legal Operator - $275K base + variable

  • Over 10 years professional work experience, all in B2B enterprise software.
  • Focused on roles which combine in-house counsel, business operations and corporate development.
  • Extensive experience in M&A activity and investor relations.
  • Law degree

The International Operator - $200K base + variable

  • 17 years professional work experience, 5 years software experience and 4 years as a Founder/CEO.
  • This international candidate has global experience across multiple continents and extensive experience creating operational efficiencies and automating workflows which enabled complex international deals to close.
  • Additional experience leading a team responsible for data analytics and reporting, as well as product operations. 
  • Business degree + Accounting designation

The Startup Operator - $250K base + options 

  • 10 years professional work experience and 4 years experience in the software industry.
  • Joined a seed funded startup to operationalize the business and build it to help secure Series A funding.
  • Experience fundraising, board reporting, working with a Founder, and recruiting teams to build and release products.
  • Law degree

The Growth Operator - $175K base + 20% bonus

  • 23 years of professional work experience and experience working for enterprise SaaS vendors who sell globally.
  • Joined two startups as the first operational hire and scaled the function to a team of 15+ people.
  • Experience creating efficiencies and reducing spend, straddling sales and marketing operations and working with founders; achieving a successful exit (acquisition).
  • STEM degree + MBA

The Smooth Operator - $164K base + variable

  • 25 years of professional work experience, including B2B enterprise software and consulting companies who sell to large enterprises.
  • Experience working with a Founder/CEO and championing organizational design to enable a business to scale. 
  • Scope of operational experience includes business operations, finance and sales operations as well as International business experience, which includes leading team members in a distributed model.
  • Bachelor's Degree

The Hire 

  • 25 years professional work experience, originally as a corporate lawyer, and spent majority of their career working for B2B enterprise software as a President/CEO.
  • Extensive experience scaling to enable rapid growth as well as leading a business through difficult times.
  • International business experience and fluent in multiple languages.
  • Economics + Law degree

To attract and land this candidate, our client offered a $225K base + 30% bonus and equity.

As you can see, compensation for these candidates varies significantly based on the length and scope of experience, as well as their ability to thrive in similar environments.

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For organizations and job seekers alike, it can be challenging to understand what a particular position should pay. Often, it’s a calculation between salary surveys that lack all context, what a person has earned in the past, and ad hoc conversations with others in the field.

We’re sharing market insights into current compensation packages for key roles in the tech industry. Our recruiters conduct targeted searches on behalf of our clients, seeking out candidates who fit the requirements of the role and diligently qualifying them to present only the very best talent. These posts are meant to highlight the contextual elements that makeup compensation, and to help our clients and candidates better understand the current market forces that affect earning potential.