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The rise of the Chief of Staff in Tech Start-ups

Dan Briselden. Dan is a Director at Zeren, leading the Operations team, specialising in People, Finance and Operations hires for high-growth tech businesses.

As a start-up begins to scale and establish product-market fit, the demands on the company’s leadership team begin to grow and become increasingly complex. As many start-ups look to plan for future success, they seek to establish a team with the capacity to set ambitious goals, create strategic objectives and execute efficiently.


One role that can be particularly important in helping CEOs and Founders of start-ups achieve their goals is that of the Chief of Staff, acting as the strategic advisor to the CEO, leading the company’s growth strategy, and aligning operations, processes, and systems to the business plan.


In the last 12 months, we have witnessed a rise in the Chief of Staff role within the start-up world, with many of Zeren’s clients recognising the need to hire this critical role early on in their journey. Many start-ups are striving for operational efficiency, slick process and cohesity across its leadership team and often lack the muscle to bring it all together. This is where an experienced Chief of Staff comes in.


When hiring a Chief of Staff for your tech start-up, here are some of the key qualities and skills to look for:


Strong communication skills: The Chief of Staff must be able to effectively communicate with a wide range of stakeholders, including the CEO, senior leadership team, employees, customers, and external partners. They should be able to clearly articulate goals and strategies and be able to communicate complex ideas in a clear and concise manner.


Strategic thinking: A Chief of Staff should be able to think critically and strategically and be able to develop and implement plans to achieve long-term goals. They should be able to identify and analyse trends and opportunities and be able to develop and execute strategies to capitalise on them.


Strong project management skills: The Chief of Staff will be responsible for managing complex projects and coordinating cross-functional teams. They should have strong project management skills, including the ability to define project scope, set clear objectives, and track progress against milestones.


Strong leadership skills: The Chief of Staff should be a strong leader who can inspire and motivate others to achieve their best work. They should be able to effectively delegate tasks, provide constructive feedback, and develop the skills and abilities of their team members.


Ability to work collaboratively: The Chief of Staff will be working closely with the CEO and other members of the leadership team, and should be able to build and maintain positive relationships with these stakeholders. They should be able to work collaboratively with others and be able to resolve conflicts and address issues in a constructive and positive manner.


Overall, hiring a Chief of Staff can help CEOs and Founders of start-ups navigate the complexities of scaling and achieve their goals more effectively. With a strong Chief of staff in place, start-ups can focus on growth and innovation while having a competent leader in place to ensure that the company is running smoothly and aligned with its strategic goals.


If you are interested in talking to myself or Zeren about making your first Chief of Staff hire then please reach out at


Zeren exists to empower the world’s change makers. We do this by building high-performing teams in the world’s most innovative businesses, to accelerate growth by connecting visionary leaders and ambitious talent.

We are a leading global Executive Search & Recruitment firm with teams and offices in San Francisco, Houston, New York, London, Berlin and Frankfurt.

We partner with high-growth, VC/PE-backed businesses and ambitious Corporate brands placing senior leaders, building exceptional teams, or providing critical interim and consulting talent.

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