A Chief Operating Officer (COO) is typically tasked with the daily operations of a business, supervising all or most aspects of the organization’s plans. Depending on the company, the COO may be responsible for managing issues including financial growth and development, sales, marketing, research, and personnel.
To learn about the skills and experiences that make for a successful COO, we interviewed Puneet Gaur, Chief Operating Officer at ForecastEra. He is a business builder and operational leader with proven executive management performance in domestic and international technology organizations.
Having attended some of the top universities like Harvard University, Arizona State University, and Delhi Technological University (Formerly Delhi College of Engineering), Puneet has a strong academic background. He has worked with various multinational firms including Avaya and CSC.
This interview log will give early-stage investigators, who may still be deciding on their career paths a look into what a typical day in the life of a COO looks like, what experience and qualifications are required, and what advice he would give to those who aspire to work in that role.
Interview Log: Puneet Gaur, Chief Operating Officer at ForecastEra
Please share a brief introduction about your role as the Chief Operating Officer at ForecastEra.
Puneet Gaur – As COO, my job is to manage operations of ForecastEra, ranging from customer delivery, HR, IT, finance to product development.
What does a day in your work life look like? Is there a typical day, or is each day different?
Puneet Gaur – Mostly, my days are well defined since I am a very organized person. The first day and the last day of the week are about status checks of teams, projects, and operations. Thursdays are innovation days, where we spend a lot of time focusing on innovations that we can bring into our products. There is always a small change in the schedule based on R&D work or customer delivery.
I believe that in my role, predictability of the day is a measure of how efficiently I am running the company’s operations.
Please shed some light on your career path, and how you started your career in the field and elevated from an Information Technology Consultant to Chief Operating Officer?
Puneet Gaur – I started in IT, then did supply chain management for a while, which formed the base for operations. After that, I joined a rotation program in product management at Avaya. Once I finished the product management rotation, I went on to do a finance role, which later morphed into operations and finance. Then I joined CSC in a finance role, which again became a mix of finance and operations. I did a few more years in accounting finance. Since I had worked in different fields, I did consult for start-ups for some time.
Recently, I moved into the COO role for this start-up. They are in the fintech domain, so my finance, tech, and product management experience perfectly fit what they have been looking for.
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What are the most essential skills you need to break into profiles like Global Strategy and Operations, Global Finance Shared Services, and Supply Chain Management?
Puneet Gaur –
- One skill that I try to teach my team is to derive actionable insights from all the data floating around in the companies. It is vital to connect dots, think beyond the obvious and look at two-three years in the future.
- At my level, hiring and retaining the best talent is very important.
- Remote work now requires additional skills to keep the teams together and motivated to work collaboratively towards the common goal.
- Finally, it is important to create the right set of KPIs to evaluate the business and people.
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Which educational background do you hold? How this education helped you in career growth?
Puneet Gaur – I have two undergrad and four grad degrees. It broadened my knowledge, helped me connect with a wide variety of employees within a company. However, I want to stress that the right education or certifications may help you get your first job. After that, your hard work, intelligence, willingness to learn, openness to feedback, team spirit, and collaborative attitude matters.
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Which courses, skill development paths, books, or blogs do you recommend to aspiring professionals for upskilling?
Puneet Gaur –
- Coursera, EDX, Udemy – the standard ones these days are pretty good.
- Subscribe to some useful journals and magazines in your area. If possible, get online membership to some good libraries. Most libraries offer thousands of online books and magazines these days.
- If you don’t have time to read complete books, you can subscribe to book summaries software.
- Ideally, one should read 6-12 books per year. I have 5000 books in my library.
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Last words – Do you have any expert advice for our readers?
Puneet Gaur – Ethics is the most important thing. Unethical behavior finally catches up with you. Unethical practices will never give you a sustainable competitive advantage. So think about long term sustainability and growth.
1. Always respect your juniors and team members. Respect is a two-way street. If there is no mutual respect in the team, the team will not excel.
2. Switching jobs for money will also catch up with you eventually. A rolling stone gathers no mass. Think long term. I interview hundreds of candidates. You would not be considered for leadership positions later in your career. So I can tell you that interviewers can see through your excuses and false stories. So be honest.
3. When I hire for senior positions, I look for four things
- IQ and knowledge to do the job.
4. Read about the company before you attend an interview.
5. If you are allowed to ask questions during the interview, please do not ask personal questions. Stick with the company and the position.
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