Parvinder Bhatia, Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer, Wizenoze
Wizenoze is a software company that uses the latest AI technology, educational insights and data to build a vast, easily searchable digital library full of educational content. It provides curated learning content to students that is relevant, reliable and readable - both in school and after school with staff based in the Netherlands, UK and India.
Q: Can you give us a brief introduction to your career background?
A: I am a commercial chief financial officer with more than 20 years of private equity-and venture capital-backed financial and operational leadership experience.
Over the years, I have built a strong track record working with software as a service (SAAS), metrics implementation and reporting, fundraising, mergers and acquisitions, international expansion, post-acquisition integration and building businesses for growth and exit.
More recently, I have focussed on experience building and leading finance, operations, HR and IT functions, as well as being seen as a trusted partner to the CEO, board and senior management teams at Wizenoze.
The big questions
Q: What's been your biggest success within your career?
A. My biggest career success has to be my time at Prime Focus, where I worked for 10 years. I was part of the management team which took the business from circa $10 million in 2006, to $350 million in 2016. This was done through a combination of organic and inorganic growth. We were able to transform the business from a SME to the world’s largest media services business.
Q: What has been your biggest challenge within your career?
A: One part of my career I’ve always found to be difficult is shifting work/personal geographies. Having worked and lived across India, the UK and Singapore, I constantly try to make sure I settle in to the different work cultures, but that always remains a challenge.
Q: What's your biggest regret?
A: To give a perfectly honest answer - not learning more. In the world of work, learning never stops and I always look back on certain times during my career and wish I could have learnt more, both technically and theoretically.
Q: What has been your biggest learning opportunity?
A: In terms of professional growth, I really valued my time at Ernst & Young. During my time with the company, I went through the rigours of valuation teams, and I have to admit, it remains one of the biggest learning opportunities I’ve ever come across. I would suggest it to anyone starting their careers in the finance/operations sector.
Q: Who/what have you learnt most from?
A: One of the most influential people I’ve had the pleasure of working with has to be my valuation partner who I reported to at Ernst & Young. Together we were able to positively impact the technology, media and telecom (TMT) segment of the business and he personally helped me develop my senior leadership skills.
Q: What's the biggest challenge in your marketplace at the moment?
A: Because of the sheer volume of digital platforms readily available, the biggest challenge for us right now is the speed in which we have to make decisions. In my opinion, education technology is the future, but people at the helm of the education industry are still living the brick-and-mortar dream – making it all the more difficult for us to grow and help as many of our userbase as possible.
Tips from the top
Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?
A: The age-old question. I would have to say, “there is always time to learn”. Sometimes you fall into the mindset of thinking you know everything and refusing to listen to new ideas. It’s about opening your mind and realising that you don’t know everything.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring COO?
A: It’s a relatively simple message - concentrate on understanding every aspect of the business you’re in and make sure you don’t skim from the top. It doesn’t hurt to get your hands dirty and fully immerse yourself into the business and its ethos.
Q: What do you think is key to managing a successful team?
A: I think the key is to really bond with your colleagues and understand what their challenges are. To have a successful team, you need successful employees, so understanding the business at all levels will help you to hire the right members to help the team grow and hit targets.
Q: What's your top tip for managing work-life balance?
A: It’s easier said than done, but make sure to give 100% to each part. When you’re working, make sure you’re focused on the tasks at hand, but when you’re not working, try and keep work thoughts out of your mind and enjoy what you’re doing.
Q: How do you see the COO role changing in the next five years?
A: As with most roles, I see the role of a COO becoming a lot more technology driven, even more so than it is today. Utilising data to make strategic decisions will be a necessity for any COO, as well as creating more innovate solutions to commercial structuring and the day-to-day running of departments and teams.
Q: What technological advances do you foresee within your role?
A: Based on current thinking, I see a deeper understanding of the customer acquisition processes being at the forefront of most strategies and business planning models. There will be a bigger focus on mapping the customer acquisition costs, its lifetime value, and what it can bring to the business in terms of revenue and opportunities.
Q: What do you see as future of work in the UK?
A: Even though the majority of businesses already use it, it wouldn’t surprise me if the hybrid working model became a mainstay in business operations. It’s helping to reduce operating costs, while also increasing productivity among employees – I can see this being the preferred working model for many years to come.
Love Mondays: at Reed, we are on a mission to help everyone love their job
Q: What do you love most about your role?
A: As crazy as it might sound, I enjoy the challenges, the stress and the responsibilities that my role brings. Each day is different, and I feel like you learn the most when you’re faced with a challenge to overcome and a solution to find.
Q: What does your average Monday look like?
A: At my current level, my Monday is usually lined with back-to-back company-wide meetings for most parts of the day. If I’m not in meetings, you’ll find me at my desk planning day-to-day operations and reviewing company performance against our key metrics.
If you are looking for a talented accountancy and finance professional for your business, or looking to find your next role, contact one of our specialist consultants today.