October 3, 2023
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CoOptions Technologies

CoOptions Technologies

POSITION PLACED: Managing Director (Sales)

Executive Summary

This was an exciting project involving finding a COO for a pioneer in the corporate social sector. The company needed to bring on-board a leadership team which would spearhead execution and scale the company to the next level. It was imperative for this team to stay true to the founder’s vision. The immediate need was to hire a Chief Operating Officer (COO) who would independently drive the operations of the company and complement the vision of the founder CEO. The COO would be responsible for revenue management, people development, management of large-scale distributed teams and end-to-end operations. The challenge, as well as the opportunity was to sustain and be a pioneer without falling prey to the mistakes that nearly killed the micro finance industry.

About CoOptions Technologies

Founded in 1999 by Subramaniam Yadavalli with a vision of bringing the smile back to the Indian farmer’s face, CoOptions Technologies is creating a transparent technology-driven channel connecting banks and other financial institutions with the agrarian community. The company’s bold aim was to make financial inclusion a reality using its unique business model. Its investors, which include Walden International and Nadathur Holdings, were extremely bullish about CoOptions Technologies’ business idea and model. In fact, the company had won an exclusive ten-year contract from the Andhra Pradesh government to manage the state’s agricultural financing infrastructure. This provided the critical momentum to scale and create an impact.

The Search Challenge - AnuPartha's Perspective

The executive board of CoOptions Technologies identified AnuPartha as their exclusive search partner. AnuPartha was selected for a few important reasons – start-up hiring experience and understanding of evolving business models in the social sector. The assignment took 135 days from start to finish. As Co-options was a pioneer in its space, arriving at the candidate profile was not a straight forward exercise. Anu Parthasarathy, Global Executive Talent’s CEO was anchoring the search process and drew up a broad consideration set of seemingly diverse industries including Banking, Fertilizer, Animal feeds, FMCG and Microfinance. Anu analysed that the Co-options’ business model had shades of rural financing and marketing as well as financing (not quite micro) of the economically underprivileged. After a diligent search process that covered nearly 60 prospects, two candidates made it to the final shortlist. The person who was finally chosen was a near perfect fit. Earlier employed with Fullerton India, he came with a strong background in building an innovative finance channel for the urban self-employed sector.

Anu Parthasarathy, Chief Executive Officer, Global Executive Talent

“A hiring mandate from the corporate social sector was exciting. Personally, I am very passionate about this sector and have been tracking developments in this industry since its inception. The entry of microfinance companies in India has created awareness of the latent financial needs in the rural community. My discussions with the stakeholders at CoOptions Technologies revealed a strong and clear vision and the passion to empower rural communities. Although the key result areas for the COO were revenue generation and operations, I realized that it was equally important to focus on intangibles like personality traits, life skills and career objectives of potential candidates.

The corporate social sector in India is evolving from an individual-driven philanthropic activity to an organized and transparent industry. Hiring for this nascent sector, can however be a huge challenge. Lack of ready-made hiring templates and models pose hurdles during the candidate selection process. The onus of attracting “fresh thinking” people from other sectors and creating a sustainable talent pool thus rests with the search partner. Also, complexity of search parameters makes candidate selection tough – identifying practical, bottom-line focussed professionals, who are socially conscious and passionate about giving back to society, can be difficult.

The first important step in executing the mandate was the creation of “hiring reference points”. As CoOptions Technologies was one of the pioneers in the corporate social sector, we could not draw profile parallels from this industry. It was like starting with a blank canvas. We had several brainstorming sessions to analyze different industry fits and target companies. As candidates in each target sector had their intrinsic industry-driven personality patterns and individual characteristics, I had to re-calibrate search parameters according to the target industry. I will attribute success of this hiring mandate to three factors: in-depth and focussed industry research, right combination of tangible and intangible search parameters in candidate identification and positioning CoOptions Technologies as a “for profit” company with strong social ideals.”

Client's Feedback

Subramanyam Yadavalli, Chief Executive Officer, CoOptions Technologies

“Hiring a COO for CoOptions Technologies was a critical mandate as the company was transitioning from the start-up phase. I truly appreciated Anu’s unique approach to hiring. When I first met Anu, our discussions were not about the COO hiring mandate or how to go about the process. Rather, Anu took the time to understand CoOptions Technologies and our services. Anu was able to immediately appreciate that growth and attracting “best talent” were closely interlinked. Her problem-solving approach to leadership hiring is definitely Global Executive Talent’s USP. Anu approached the mandate with ’What is your key problem?’, “How will the COO address these needs?’While most search firms look at ’closing a mandate’”, Anu focused on identifying the ’problem solver’.

Having worked as a search partner with several start-ups, she was able to put in perspective, the growth potential and challenges faced by CoOptions Technologies. Anu was also able to visualize the role beyond the job description and provide vital inputs on the culture and organizational fit and compensation benchmarks. Her inclusive approach, keenness to go the ’extra mile’ and her passion for the corporate social sector were key differentiators.”

Mahesh Kanumury, Director, CoOptions Technologies

“Micro financing and deregulation of this sector has provided the much-needed visibility for CoOptions Technologies. With the concept, technology and contracts in place, CoOptions was poised to scale-up rapidly. The need for a COO was critical. During my first meeting with Anu, I was impressed with her awareness about this sector. Her meticulous and step-by-step approach in understanding the hiring mandate and candidate profiling was commendable. She was able to clearly visualize the complexities of the role in a start-up environment. Her personal involvement and candid opinions helped build our confidence in Global Executive Talent. I also appreciated her holistic view of our needs vis-à-vis the typical “horse with blinkers” approach. Anu has the ability to look beyond the job description and identify key success parameters in a candidate. Thanks to Anu, we were able to complete the COO hiring process in a few weeks.”

Rajesh Subramanian, Managing Director, Walden International, Investor and Board Member

“CoOptions Technologies was looking at hiring a COO who would build the organization as well as create value for company, its employees and self. Therefore, selection of the right search firm was of utmost importance. I was keen to work with a search partner who understood and appreciated the challenges of start-up companies and applied this to identify the right fit for this environment. Anu scored very high in working with start-ups. She also came with strong understanding of the industry, potential “hiring grounds” and specific personality traits required for this role. Her willingness to spend time with us to fine-tune job role and work description and develop candidate profile is greatly appreciated. She also had the ability to look at the bigger picture and seek clarity in ambiguity. Her well-researched and detailed candidate briefing effectively complemented pitches made by CoOptions Technologies. Anu’s responsiveness and ownership of the hiring mandate was commendable.”

Candidate’s Feedback

Kiran Kosaraju – COO hire

“The COO role at CoOptions Technologies was of immense interest to me as it was a challenging business opportunity with a tangible social impact. Anu discussed the job profile in detail and also helped me draw synergies between CoOptions Technologies’ vision and my personal ideologies. I will give Anu full marks for comprehension of the multi-layered role and her strong understanding of this sector. Her inputs were thoroughly researched and she has been a valuable advisor. I also appreciate Anu’s personal involvement in the entire hiring process and her efforts in helping me make this decision.”

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