Pavan Vyas has worked on the forefront of cutting edge technology throughout his career, and now leads creative technology company RUSH as CEO. One of his previous roles was here at Deloitte, where he worked in both the London and New Zealand offices. We spoke to Pavan about his experience and what work-life looks like for a business leader…
What was your role at Deloitte and when were you here?
I worked at Deloitte London between 2010 and 2012, then I moved to Deloitte New Zealand in 2012 until late 2014. I was in the Consulting team, with a focus on strategy and operations projects across the globe in financial services, banking and insurance.
What was your fondest memory here?
I remember the real high-performance culture, with very smart people working together to solve some really tough problems. The firm’s close connection to industry and being on the pulse of what's going on was really important and useful too, and that's something that I look back on quite vividly.
Were you offered any strong pieces of advice at Deloitte that you still use?
My first career coach at Deloitte London told me, communicate often and communicate early, with regards to what’s going on. I’ve kept this at the back of my mind always. It’s also important to focus on the people outcomes as much as the business outcomes – an idea that I hold dear to my heart.
Can you give us an overview of your career so far?
Technology has been the main focus of my career but back during the financial crash, I purposely took a year out to do an MBA at Oxford, then joined Deloitte straight after. The time I spent at Deloitte was a real intense phase of building my capabilities and business knowledge, and after that I combined those two strands of business and technology together. I did some corporate venture capital at Sky, where we invested in high growth tech start-ups, before joining RUSH when it was a small 20-odd people company. Four years later, there’s now 100 of us with global clients.
Tell us a little about RUSH…
RUSH is a design and technology studio which helps customers like Google, Disney, Z Energy and Spark stay relevant in this tech-centric world that we live in. This involves creating big digital projects that cover everything from business models to customer experience. We live for the rush of designing technology that better serves humankind.
Being a CEO is highly regarded role but also a challenging one. How would you describe it?
While it’s a role with lot of pressure, your job is to enable your people to be the best version of themselves. That means you have to come to the role with a strong sense of purpose and a clear strategy of how you’ll support your people to deliver on that.
It is constantly like doing a juggling act – there’s going to be challenging moments and you’ll make mistakes, but that’s ok as long as you own those and are transparent.
You’re also an investor for Tuhua Ventures. How do you identify a solid investment?
The investments that I make are driven by my personal ambition, which to help New Zealand transform into a knowledge economy beyond the primary industries. I want us to be globally relevant, so while investing in early-stage tech businesses is something I do occasionally, usually my investments are in companies big enough to stand out internationally.
Also the team behind the business has to have some magic behind them, and the ability to pivot and persevere through all the hardships they will no doubt encounter. Those are the two ingredients that I look for.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in digital?
I probably would've been either a commercial or military airline pilot, or I would have done some teaching. Being a pilot was something I wanted to do very early but I discovered technology around the same time, so I chose that. And teaching because as I was growing up, I really enjoyed it - and I still do.
What do you do for fun outside of work?
I like to work on DIY building projects, creating furniture and things like that. I recently built an authentic Italian pizza oven, which weighs around two tonnes. I’m also usually engaged in at least one or two sports teams at any one time and beyond that, I’ve got two young children who keep me pretty busy!
Finally, recently I’ve joined an organisation called Take2 on the advisory board. We’re about breaking the Cycle of Crime Through Tech. Take2 teaches incarcerated individuals to code, providing meaningful employment opportunities upon release. If you want to find out more about this, please get in touch.