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Founders Focus Ep.29 with Adway’s Viktor Nord & Adrian McDonald

Founders Focus Ep.29 with Adway’s Viktor Nord & Adrian McDonald

Adway’s Viktor Nord and Adrian McDonald sat down with Hung Lee of Recruiting Brainfood, for Episode 29. of Founders Focus, a show that gets up close and personal with the business leaders who are changing the way we work today.

In this episode, they discuss the history of Adway and give some insight into the qualities that make for a good CEO and the leadership challenges Viktor and Adrian have faced as well - as the lessons they’ve learned from those challenges! They’ll also give you a sneak peek into some upcoming new and very exciting features coming to Adway’s services soon…

We have the entire episode ready for you to watch right here:

Or if you just want to get a quick overview of the key discussion points, we’ve outlined them for you below:

  • A brief history of Adway from Viktor Nord

  • What qualities make for a good CEO?

  • 5 important lessons for entrepreneurs

  1. Learn to balance your responsibilities with your health and wellbeing
  2. Cultivate self-awareness and personal development
  3. Empower your teams to make and execute decisions 
  4. Understand mega-trends in the market 
  5. Create space in business as usual to make daily experiments
  • What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a new entrepreneur?

  • What’s happening for Adway in 2022?


A brief history of Adway from Viktor Nord

There’s no better way to understand the history of a company, a product, or a service than by finding out about its inception from the source. Viktor explains how Adway came to be the meeting point between ATS and Social Media:

“I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset. My whole family is entrepreneurs, my father, and my sister, so you could say it’s in the blood! I started in sales for a recruitment company and started my first two companies from that experience working in the Nordic recruitment boom, building a source business.

Then I moved into HR consultancy and saw that hires from job boards and organic search were performing well but that social media was sparking the data without any direct strategy from recruitment companies. So that was my big “aha moment”, to find some software to connect ATS to social media. And I couldn’t.

At that point, I connected with Richard Sӧrensson, Adway’s Co-Founder, who is an incredible automation expert, and this embryonic idea became more concrete.

When founding Adway, Richard and I discussed whether we wanted to take on the CEO role ourselves and we decided that we enjoyed the freedom we had to innovate and make bold moves without the operational responsibilities of being a CEO.

We also discussed waiting to bring on a CEO until the company was at a certain point. So that was a early decision to wait. As it was, we brought Adrian on board when we had 25 employees, which is unusual.

Adrian and I met at the end of 2019 at a scaling-up event where he was speaking, and we brought him on board initially to offer advice on scaling. Through that, we built up a common way of working and incredible trust and we asked him to come on board as CEO from that position.”


What qualities make for a good CEO?

“You have different CEOs for different stages in the company and different kinds of companies as well. We are still a small company even though we are close to 100 employees, but with a super intense growth rate. So, we needed somebody with experience of that kind of hyper-growth or we would lose focus on the core deliverables to the customer.” - Viktor

Top tips to be a great CEO and an effective leader:

  • Be a good listener
  • Optimise your organisation - Think of yourself as a conductor of a symphony, teams are fully functioning, they are interacting well, and their well-being is high
  • Have a vision and communicate that to your teams regularly
  • Be bold! Make innovative moves and drive forwards


5 important lessons for entrepreneurs

“There are always so many challenges that are going to pop up. There are always fires to fight. There are always challenges internally in the business. My realisation is you can’t be everywhere. You just can’t solve it all, so you have to pick and choose wisely. Try to stay focussed on the things that matter most and that can change invariably from week to week or day to day. It’s about making sure that we have a fantastic product our customers love. That we’re scaling. That the market is where we want to go, and our people are taken care of.” - Adrian

Being a successful entrepreneur or CEO is about balance. Learning how to balance:

  • Your ideas about the day-to-day responsibilities of operating a company
  • Your health and wellbeing with the demands of being a leader
  • Your responses to the short- and long-term trends that will influence your business

Here are some important lessons to be a more successful entrepreneur:

  1. You are an asset! Learn to balance your responsibilities with your own health and well-being build regular routines and make sure you’re not logging in to emails, Slack, or Teams until you are at work. A great tip is to switch off notifications and prevent technology from taking up your attention.
  2. Cultivate self-awareness and personal development No one is born with every single leadership skill. Make time to read and listen to podcasts and cultivate an awareness of your strengths and the areas you need to work on. 3.Empower your teams to make and execute decisions

Part of leadership is delegating and empowering your teams to make decisions and act on them - even if they turn out to be the wrong decision!

1.Understand mega-trends in the market

Build your business with a focus on long-term market trends and you can’t go wrong. Trends such as automation, personalisation, and the talent shortage will be with us for a long time. The key is to balance your priorities between these mega-trends and a short-term operational focus.


  1. Create space in business as usual to make daily experiments innovation is what drives entrepreneurs. Make space in your routine to bounce ideas around, take risks and be creative.


What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a new entrepreneur?

“Choose something that you’ll be passionate about. It’s going to be a ten-year journey, you’ve got to love it. You’ve got to want to get up out of bed every day and do it. It’s a hard slog being an entrepreneur so choose something that you love. And do it with people that you love as well. Don’t do it on your own.” - Adrian

“Find a champion customer you can work closely with at the beginning of your product development and make sure you build up a really nice MVP and define your product and then you can bother about scaling. So many bother about scaling first without actually having a product the market ones.” - Viktor


What’s happening for Adway in 2022?

So, what exciting things are happening for Adway customers this year? Here are a few new developments to watch out for:

- We’re developing new products, new features, and new functionalities that will solve some of our customers’ problems.

- Our analytics is getting richer. We’ll be offering more insights to make our customers even smarter.

- We’re continuing to invest in our core tech platform. The more AI, the more customers will feel the benefits.

- We’ve developed an exciting new plug and play product that is ATS agnostic. Which means that if you have a legacy ATS you can still capture candidate information while skipping registration steps if needed. Our customers will find they increase their conversion by 200-300% on their carrier page.

- We’re finalising plans for our big new office!

We’ll have more exciting new announcements throughout the year, so watch this space!