Amrit Bhatta

BIOGRAPHY

Amrit is the Group Commercial & Strategy Director at Prospa, Australia’s #1 online small business lender. Prospa has lent over $850m to more than 15,000  small businesses in Australia since 2012, was named #24 globally and the best Australian company in KPMG’s 4th annual global Fintech100 list and was awarded Best Employer for the second year running in the annual AON Best Employers Program

Amrit is responsible for leading commercial and strategic decision support towards Prospa delivering on its corporate goals and meeting its long term vision

Prior to Prospa, he was a management consultant with McKinsey and has held strategy exec roles across a number of corporates in the online and financial services industries, spending 18 years based across the  US, Europe and South Africa before returning home in 2016. He has an MBA from the Yale School of Management and law degrees from the University of New South Wales.

CAREER RELATED QUESTIONS

What is the best thing about your job?

There’s nothing like being involved in building a business and riding the journey from an upstart newcomer to an industry leader. Where one can mix it up with the people that literally started things from scratch whose instinct and judgement built and grew an amazing operation; but also where those same people are looking to you to help them make smarter decisions and embed great ideas into the business so its built to last … it’s a once-in-a-company-lifetime phase. Great fun, great people, great opportunity to influence and take personal responsibility for making things happen. And without needing to wear a suit.

What is the most challenging project/problem you have worked on either as an external consultant or an internal strategist?

I remember those situations when the trust levels were non-existent and resistance was highest – where you come along and are very quickly earmarked as the guy who is going to make me look bad or throw my world upside down.

There was a really painful turnaround project at an Insurance co where teams built up over years had to be merged and downsized for the company to survive. Or leading the change in sales economics in the online space from “the way we’ve always done things that worked.”

I’ve been public enemy #1 here and there – and had to earn trust and goodwill the really hard way, hand in hand with those whose lives you were impacting, bit by bit… certainly challenging but also think journeys that forged some of the most satisfying and close professional relationships I have ever made.

What advice would you give someone transitioning from a consulting firm to a role in industry?

Consulting firm work was in my experience 90% design and 10% execution, far too much handing a solution on paper and moving to the next thing and leaving making it happen to your client, so many times not being exposed to how it all ultimately played out on the ground.

That fundamentally flips in a company role; designing super-smart solutions that are intellectually optimal is usually the far less important deliverable. What’s more important is designing practical, implementable and robust solutions and then test and learn. My experience is that its all about developing relationships and earning the trust and belief/commitment of others that matters. Intelligent well presented work is a by-product, its actually you people are buying into the vast majority of the time.

Consulting firm heroes are also generally perfectionists who take perverse joy in aligning all the detailed things … I’ve had to develop my comfort levels with commercial gut-checks, “letting something slide” because its wasn’t material, getting a beta version out there and tweaking it as we go… these things don’t always come instinctively! The sooner they became second nature to me, the more real world productive I became.

Who has influenced your career the most and why?

I think its more situations than particular people i’ve interacted with over all the years that have impacted my career thinking and calculus the most. I’ve seen people who love what they do, hate what they do, got broken by circumstance, overcame what I thought were impossible odds, driven and motivated by so many different things that have worked well and/or terribly. From that melting pot is where I have connected to those things that have driven my choices and sense of enjoyment/fulfilment. The powerful resonant experiences for me revolve around needing to have a laugh, believing in the intrinsic fairness of what I am engaged in, and disrupting the status quo – the rest is just for external show.

What is the favourite piece of advice you have received and from whom?

If you wait to ‘feel right’ before doing something then you’ve got it all wrong - doing drives feelings, not the other way around.
[Spoken by some random leadership course facilitator, but the one piece of advice that has always resonated]

PERSONAL INSIGHTS

As a child what did you want to be when you were older

I am/was a cricket nut but nowhere near a good enough cricket player. I took up umpiring along the way and might have gotten somewhere had I stuck with it. I look at this elite panel of umpires who get to travel the world officiating cricket matches (this system wasn’t in place back then) and sometimes imagine…

What are your three favourite books and what are you currently reading?

I enjoyed Shantaram, The Kite Runner and any authentic sporting autobiography. I just finished Pat Cash’s autobiography… I remember staying up as a kid to watch him win Wimbledon with great pride, he’s had a colourful life above and beyond.

Who is your personal or business hero/heroine and what quality do you most admire in them?

I marvel at genius and giftedness – you just seem to be born with that. But I’ve always been partial to those who one wouldn’t say was touched with genius, but who worked their ass off and squeezed everything out of the sponge they could, never gave up and accomplished great things through strength of character. Jimmy Connors, Allan Border. Sports people easiest to id… business leaders who don’t consider themselves a genius are relatively rare lol.

Who would you like sitting next to you at a dinner party and why?

Greg Norman, John McEnroe, Graham Richardson – just for all the war stories J

What is your favourite quote or motto?

I don’t have a bucket list. I do, however, have something that rhymes with a Bucket list” – Barack Obama

InterviewMiriam Murphy