Bengaluru resident Divya Chethan is a vigorous learner. Having had a fair share of experience across organisations in the talent acquisition space over the years, Chethan decided to put business acumen into a startup and embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2016. Along with Gautam Sinha, Sanjeev Punwani, and Karunjay Anand, she started CBREX Technologies Pvt Ltd.
CBREX is a B2B online platform where curated talent sourcing firms fulfil open requisitions posted by enterprises. The platform is an amalgamation of tech, design and product experts coming together to run one of India’s extensive recruitment platforms. As a co-founder and head of product, Chethan’s journey as an entrepreneur and leader bore fruit as her platform grew by five times in the past three years. They recently closed a $3M pre-series A, led by Waterbridge ventures.
In an interview with SheThePeople, Divya Chethan talks about CBREX, the challenges she faces in the industry, the talent acquisition space dynamics in the country, her role as the head of product and how she constantly evolves herself in diverse roles.
Interview with Divya Chethan
What led you to create CBREX? What were the primary hiccups in starting and fitting the platform in the market?
It all began with how we can provide value to employers by connecting them with the best specialist recruiters and giving them access to the best candidates. That’s how the process of vendor curation began. It wasn’t smooth initially to fit right into the market. We are now pioneers in this space, but it took us almost 2.5 years to get our product market fit right. As is the case with trying out anything new, we did face friction in getting customer buy-in. Isn’t that part of the game, though, taking risks? However, when customers started seeing value in what we brought onto the table, the adoption automatically set in. Today, our customer base includes enterprises in technology, healthcare and pharma, with expansion into other tech-driven roles like robotics and financial services, and we have filled jobs across twenty-plus countries.
You entered the field of STEM after co-founding the platform. How did the transition go?
Yes, I became associated with the STEM field after co-founding CBREX. My domain has primarily centred around the talent acquisition space. However, being a leader naturally piqued my interest most in the space after witnessing the extent of innovation and ease that technology brings in various fields. That’s how I got more involved in creating a vision that solves tribulations clouding the recruiting world.
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What differentiates your platform from its competitors?
What sets CBREX apart from other platforms in the same space is that along with the vision to revolutionise how enterprises source talent through a tech platform, we are also consistently pursuing to simplify the life of a recruiter by building a powerful user experience.
As someone involved in the talent acquisition space, what are the key changes you’ve witnessed in recruitment trends across the country?
Over the last few years, the recruitment industry has become much more dynamic, and technology is the biggest contributor to this change. With technology, not only has the life of a recruiter gotten simpler, but it has also paved the way for cutting-edge solutions. Back in the day, it would have been unimaginable for a recruiter to seamlessly access jobs and hire talent from anywhere in the world.
What has impacted your growth as a female leader in business?
It’s always a challenge being in leadership positions and, for me, it’s been one full year of learning where I’m understanding my skills better and constantly pushing myself to grow so I can lead by example. As a woman, I am also thankful for the strong support that I get from my peers and family where I have the space to make choices and live on my terms.
“As someone who is now leading an integral part of the business, while multiple factors have affected my journey and brought me here today, my sheer commitment to work hard and keep faith in my potential has set me going.”
What is next with respect to digitally revolutionising the Indian market with your company?
At CBREX, we are consistently pursuing to revolutionise the recruitment industry by providing a powerful tech platform that facilitates enterprises to easily source talent at an optimal cost, and in a fraction of time. All this is done with the logistical convenience of a single invoice and a single contract with CBREX. Our core mission is to enable companies to hire anyone, anywhere.
Being an integral part of leadership, what drives you to evolve in diverse roles at the organisation?
I’m a learner and trying my hand at something new is exciting. I try to not confine myself in a box, one shouldn’t be confined to working in the same space all the time. Some roles require you to get out of your comfort zone and maybe even a need to upskill. Also sometimes, asking for help and guidance goes a long way. Along with this, keeping faith in myself empowers me to work across roles.
“I try to not confine myself in a box, one shouldn’t be confined to working in the same space all the time. Some roles require you to get out of your comfort zone and maybe even a need to upskill. I try to live by it as much as I can.”
As a leader in business and tech, how do you suggest the Indian market can empower more women in leadership positions?
Women in leadership positions today are setting perfect examples for all of us. Prioritising women’s opportunities and leadership roles in the workplace should be given equal priority. Workplaces in the country must back women who want to pursue entrepreneurship. As more opportunities open for women, we must not let the thoughts and opinions of those around us pull us down.
“We constantly hear that women have let go of amazing opportunities as they have to focus on their families, but we can overcome this with the right kind of support from not just families and peers but also the varied systems in the country that can back women’s aspirations and open more doors for them.”
What primary factors can empower young girls and women into adopting prominent roles in STEM?
Gender-responsive STEM education for women at an early stage would motivate more women. What can work wonders in this regard is that educational institutions should make Mathematics, Science, and Technology mandatory subjects for higher education. Along with that, parents must always encourage their daughters when they voice their aspirations of becoming scientists or astronauts.
“Bringing out stories about women in STEM at an early stage in education would inspire a lot of young girls to pursue their careers in the field as their interest and confidence will boost when they are exposed to female role models in front of them.”
Your advice for women who want to make a switch from their jobs and begin their entrepreneurial journeys?
Growth comes with challenges, but that’s the deal we make when we want to grow. My advice is to stay committed to your vision, prioritise what matters most, and work hard towards your goals. More importantly, never stop believing in yourself no matter what the odds are.