Leadership Insights Chapter 9: Kunal Kumar, COO, GeekyAnts
Leadership Insights Chapter 9: Kunal Kumar, COO, GeekyAnts
As the Chief Operating Officer, Kunal plays a pivotal role in the growth of GeekyAnts. He looks over multiple departments, including sales, HR, service delivery, client satisfaction, and the overall management of the firm. His outstanding leadership enables us to achieve new milestones every year.
We recently spoke to him about his journey as the COO of GeekyAnts. He shared his philosophy on how to inspire teams and leverage tools to achieve business targets. “We can do it all by setting up the right team and employing the right tools to support your function,” he says.
Here is an excerpt from our conversation*.
*The following Q&A has been edited for ease of perusal and clarity.
1. What Exactly Is the Role of a COO in a Company?
That’s a great question! A COO's role is to ensure that the business is running smoothly. They should have a bird’s eye view of their organization's execution and strategy. A COO is a key stakeholder in the execution of administrative activities. Their key tasks include ensuring whether the leads are being converted, whether the sales inflow is good, if the execution of the projects is at par with targets, whether the client is satisfied with the product and service, and if the employees are satisfied with the organization, and managing everything under a single umbrella.
A COO also plans for the future. They need to figure out what the business will look like in a few years, plans the team structures, revamps the organizational structure, convinces the leaders of an overhaul (if required), and so on. In terms of the corporate hierarchy, a COO comes after the CEO, who is the face of the organization. The COO works internally to execute and manage the expectations of the CEO for the organization. It is also the task of the COO to ensure that the leadership and executives are on the same page, in terms of what we want to achieve in the coming years.
2. What Measures Do You Take to Ensure That Business Operations Are Running Smoothly, and How Do You Get Every Team on the Same Page?
To ensure that the leadership is on the same page as the executives, we set up the path and then form a team that will walk on it. The first department where I focus is finding the right people. Second, a projection or vision for the organization is set up by the leadership.
We then begin with creating projections every year in the months of February and March. We put the delta around the projection, and according to that, we define the restructuring inside the organization. All kinds of projections have to be driven by the people. In the initial stage, we decide who are the key people to look after the essential tasks and KPIs. We then form a team and identify the right people for account management, sales, and marketing to drive the business for GeekyAnts.
Every month is critical for the business regarding the number of leads generated, brand recognition, remarketing efforts, project deliveries, gaining references from existing clients, and so on. This data makes up our sales funnel. I set up KPIs for the sales and the Account Management teams. This helps ensure that they are converting the right kind of projects. Because for us at GeekyAnts, focusing on the client culture is also a priority. We do not merely collaborate with every client if they do not fit culturally. We have a clear demarcation in terms of who we go ahead with as partners or collaborators.
3. How Did You Plan the Strategies for This Year, and What Was Your Implementation Plan?
Our primary focus for this year was to prioritize quality over quantity. We did not want to go to the resource augmentation section. It deviates from our mission to build and maintain a work culture that aligns with our goals and visions. Hence, we decided to go for productized services. It includes creating a chunk of a product and then selling it. This approach will also enable us to operate and grow with leaner working models rather than having huge teams. It will also help us make our teams culturally fit.
Another remarkable change for this year was introducing KPIs and OKRs for each team to ensure the growth is as planned. With the competitive nature of the industry, the importance of being on the right track when achieving goals can never be overstated. I have set a process with a clear understanding for the people regarding their accountability.
We also have stand-up meetings to ensure people do not deviate from their goals. I also believe in giving my team the freedom to experiment for the organization's growth. This approach enhances the ownership of all employees. We also have protocols for leaders to go to CXOs and present their monthly task reports. Doing so helps break the glass between leaders and team members.
We have migrated to Zoho for HR operations. It provides employees with a better experience. We also aim to introduce new tools for the sales and other departments. These organized tools will help us get better results as we continue to grow.
This year, we have also strengthened the protocol on the legal side of the business. The legal team's authority is absolute in ensuring whether we are signing the proper docs. We have been fostering increased collaboration between different teams to help them grow per KPIs. There have also been some remarkable changes on the sales front using the innovative, agile way of sending out client proposals.
4. All the Activities You Do, What Kind of Impact Do They Have on the Business from a Client’s Perspective?
Everything we do is to boost business growth and partnership experience. After implementing the required changes, we have witnessed a considerable improvement in client experience. Our clients' reviews on various platforms, e.g., Clutch, are testimony to that. It says a lot about the quality of services we provide and the kind of client relationships we maintain.
Communicating well with the clients also improves our knowledge of their expectations. This further helps improve the quality of services we provide. Everything eventually leads to better business growth in terms of client satisfaction.
5. Tell Us More about How Retrospection Calls and Projections Help You Gain a Vision of the Future.
We discuss and build detailed projections for every financial year in the month of March. We create these projections based on the market and industry research, where we study all trends thoroughly. These projections include making all decisions regarding the processes to be followed, how many new employees should be hired, what should the team sizes be in each department, etc.
Following these projections and retrospect calls in terms of numbers, revenue, and actions taken for all tasks, helps us become future-ready. Our teams are doing very well right now with the tools we have set up internally to monitor things closely.
6. What Do You See in the near Future for Geekyants?
As every great team needs a great leader, our aim for this year is to invest in leadership roles. We plan to empower employee teams to get all the support they require from their leaders to make the right decisions. This year we will focus on giving people the right leadership training so that the next year is more extensive in business.
I am hopeful that the coming months will pay dividends for our efforts. I am constantly working on improving things that impact internal and external stakeholders. Our brand name depends on the kind of client experience we deliver. All our teams are working together towards delivering a superior client experience. We will see all the efforts to fruition in the near future.
That’s a Wrap!
Kunal’s contribution to GeekyAnts is priceless. We wish him all the success in the coming days.