CEDA member profile: SEEK




Andrew Bassat, CEO and Co-founder, SEEK

Can you tell us a bit about seek?

Founded in 1997 by Andrew and Paul Bassat and Matt Rockman, SEEK today is a global business that operates in 19 countries including China, Brazil, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Bangladesh and across South East Asia. SEEK also operates synergistic education businesses in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Malaysia. SEEK is an ASX 50 company with a market capitalisation of $5 billion and FY16 Revenue of $950 million.

SEEK’s purpose as a business is to, “Help people live more fulfilling and productive working lives, and help organisations succeed.”

How have you seen the employment industry change over the last five years as well as the last 12 months?

In the last five years, the biggest trends have been across social networking, technology and data. These trends have opened up new opportunities for SEEK. Firstly, because of social networking there is now a high willingness to publicly share information. In turn the willingness to share information has opened up new product opportunities for SEEK, such as our talent search product that allows hirers to search for candidates and access their profile information.

Secondly, SEEK has historically captured data on a huge scale, given its relationships with over 150 million jobseekers and 700,000 hirers. Now SEEK is able to capture, synthesise and provide unique insights based on this data. When combined with new technology, this data means we are able to roll-out new products that are changing the way hirers and candidates engage with SEEK.

In the last 12 months, SEEK has capitalised on this trend by being able to roll-out and scale-up new products. For example, in the last 12 months SEEK has rolled out a product called Company Reviews, which is not dissimilar to Trip Advisor, and it provides real employee insights on what it is like to work for a particular company. In Australia alone, we have over 265,000 individual reviews on companies.

Have you noticed any current industry trends?

We are continuing to see different economic trends where New South Wales and Victoria are performing well, but Western Australia remains challenging. Hiring trends in mining, resources and energy remain subdued. However, we are seeing good growth in trades and services, healthcare, government, construction and education.

Our general observation is that the Australian economy continues to be resilient. The overall transition from mining resources to a more services-based economy is going well.

We believe that many Australian companies in growth industries like healthcare, technology and financial services have differentiating capabilities that could be exported into key growth markets like China and across Asia.

What do you expect to see happen in the online employment marketplace of the future?

In the short-term, we expect volume conditions to remain good but expect ad volume growth rates to moderate as we cycle into harder comparable periods.

In the next five years, we are very optimistic for SEEK’s prospects. We expect to see SEEK offering many more hirer and candidate solutions in talent sourcing and human capital industries. Our expectation is that our new solutions will deliver considerable value to hirers and candidates, and we will make significant inroads into our purpose. 

Can you tell me a bit about your time at SEEK?

I have been founder of SEEK since 1998, and have led strategy and growth initiatives since inception.

My priority is to support the talent team at SEEK to continue to find and solve big problems faced by hirers, students and candidates. SEEK has had a degree of success in the last 18 years. My job at SEEK is to ensure that by investing in the right areas, growing our culture and capability, that SEEK’s next 18 years will be significantly more successful.

Despite SEEK being a much larger business now, SEEK has retained much of its start-up culture, and my hope is that we can maintain this forever. I have been lucky to have a strong executive team that are all motivated to “build businesses” rather than merely manage them, and I have also been lucky that many of them have worked at SEEK for long periods, with the majority for over eight years and some as long as 15 years.

What did you do prior to your time at SEEK?

Prior to co-founding SEEK, I was a management consultant with Booz Allen & Hamilton, and prior to that, I worked as a solicitor at Corrs Chamber Westgarth. I studied a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) from the University of Melbourne, a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) from Monash University and a Master of Business Administration from Melbourne Business School.

I always wanted to be part of my own business, in part because I did not really enjoy being an employee. I have been lucky that since 1998 I have been a part of SEEK’s journey.

How does CEDA help SEEK understand and meet the challenges and opportunities you or your clients face?

CEDA is an important forum where SEEK has gained deep insights via CEDA’s thought leadership and discussion forums. We have been lucky that we can share these insights with our clients and employees. We also appreciate the role CEDA plays in trying to help advance Australia’s economic agenda, in particularly finding ways in which business and government can interact more closely to share best practices and knowledge.

Andrew Bassat spoke at CEDA’s premier annual event, State of the Nation, as part of a panel discussion on Thinking long-term: can industry seize the innovation opportunity? State of the Nation ran from 10–12 October 2016 at Parliament House, Canberra.