Jiva's Head of Design on their experience with hiring designers from ownpath

In conversation with Nav Pawera, Head of Design at Jiva, about the challenges they face while hiring great talent, and their experience with ownpath.

Jiva's Head of Design on their experience with hiring designers from ownpath
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Hiring Stories

Jiva is an AgTech company with a mission to empower millions of farmers around the world to increase their yields and grow their incomes with innovative, scalable, and user-friendly technology.

In this article, we talk to Nav Pawera, Head of Design at Jiva, about the challenges they face while hiring great talent, and their experience with ownpath.

Q. What kind of design team are you building at Jiva?

We’ve been building the design team at Jiva over the last 15-16 months. It is split into three major disciplines handling product design, design research, and service design across India and Indonesia. The design teams in both countries are almost equal in size and we are looking to continue growing this team over the next year.

Q. What is it that you usually look for when you’re hiring for your design teams?

What we look for depends on the need of a specific role, but there are some commonalities that can be found across hires:

  • They work on their communication skills
  • Proactively plan and organise their work.
  • Have a growth mindset
  • Looking to upskill constantly

There are also certain behaviours that we keep an eye out for, such as — how well does one respond in challenging scenarios? Are they able to actively jump in and lean into problem areas? Do they have a problem-solving attitude? 

As always, different roles will have different requirements. For example, if we’re hiring someone for interface design roles, we look at their craft from a product design point of view. Even there, it’s not just about how well you can use Figma - it’s about how well one understands a problem, how well one can articulate the solutions and how comfortable they feel putting their own opinions forward.

Q. What are some challenges you’re facing with hiring designers?

The biggest challenge for us is portraying ourselves in the right light, to attract the right kind of talent. People see us as an agritech — which sometimes means they don’t expect interesting design work here or they expect a very traditional design team setup where the design team is a support function. Even before we get to interview people, we often have to assess what kind of image the company has and whether it is being perceived the right way.

Secondly, evaluating people on their competencies is not easy, especially not when you just have 3-4 broken hours with them throughout. It usually takes months to get to know the working style of a person and what kind of support they’d need to add value. This is in addition to assessing whether the company has the capability to provide the kind of support and help them flourish.

A third challenge is being able to groom our internal teams to interview people the right way to be able to assess whether someone is a good fit in terms of skills, culture and more!

We always need to balance how much time we would ideally like to spend with a candidate to evaluate them vs how much time they can reasonably spend with a company before expecting an offer. Being able to effectively judge people on their competencies, planning their career progression and finding alignment in the kind of work they’ll be doing are some key challenges we’re looking to address.

Q. Sai and Atisha from our Product Design Fellowship have joined the team at Jiva. What has it been like since they joined the team?

I think that they’re both great team members. I have often noticed new hires to be fairly timid usually and not very confident or outspoken during meetings. But in this case, they are not afraid to raise their hands and ask questions to the team, about the direction we’re taking and the decisions we’re making.

It’s important to note that they’ve in not very senior roles. You usually need to grow in your career, hit some milestones and develop a certain amount of courage and resilience to be able to talk and question at a team level. But I have noticed that they are both very proactive, they’re not afraid to voice their views and are free to express themselves. They’re not afraid to rope in others along and take initiative!

Q. How was your experience hiring from ownpath?

My experience hiring from ownpath was a little different from the standard hiring process as it was a very organic one. In fact, Sai getting hired from ownpath wasn’t because of me but rather Aakash, our CPO to whom she had actively reached out after a session at ownpath from where we initiated the hiring process.

Our second hire, Atisha, was the quickest hire we’ve made. I had come in as a speaker for an event with ownpath on a Friday and was flying back on Sunday. The morning of my departure, I had coffee with Atisha, and a week later we made her an offer. At the time Shreyas (Founder of ownpath) connected us as he saw her to be a good fit for Jiva and things have worked out for the best since then.

The thing specifically about ownpath’s hiring process that makes it stand out is how the candidates are primed to learn. Sai and Atisha at the time of joining had the same things to say about how they wanted to grow, and the kind of commitment and investment they’ve made with ownpath is usually proof enough that they will end up being great hires; I say this from experience, working with multiple CBCs.

Often, in such cases, people who’ve invested in their learning by joining a program feel like that’s the end of the road. I think what’s been really good in this experience has been that even after joining Jiva, Sai and Atisha were keen to learn and grow on the job. It’s been a great experience hiring from ownpath and I feel there’s definitely something positive coming out of hiring from here.

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