Liani Strauss

Scaling operations at Open
Business Operations Manager
@
Open

What was your journey to joining your current company?

Before Open, I worked at an AI startup building predictive models to help companies with workforce transformation strategies. I worked as an Account Manager and looked after some big clients, including AWS and ASX.

I was learning a lot, but I started thinking more about solving problems internally for the business than external clients. I reached out to a few people on LinkedIn and came across the role of BizOps.

When I found the opportunity at Open, combining data analysis and problem-solving for different business units drew me in. The role was the challenge I was looking for. I considered a few other companies, but Open was at a compelling growth stage, with a significant customer base and ambitious growth goals. I was also impressed with the team and decided that they were the types of intelligent people I wanted to work with.

What about it makes it your dream company?

The three main reasons I decided to join Open and continue to love working there are directly aligned. 

  1. The people at Open are incredibly smart, hardworking and kind. There is a problem solving culture where anything is possible if you put your hand up and get involved. 
  2. The company is on a mission to do good. Open is a B-Corp certified company and continues to look for ways to give back and support a range of initiatives and communities. 
  3. The role fits with my personal growth goals. I wanted to become more data literate, a better problem solver, a clear thinker and an incredible team player. BizOps at Open ticked all the boxes.

 

What stands out the most about the culture? 

A big standout when I joined the company was that everyone was equally open to spend time teaching me things, no matter what level they were within the company. I felt I could ask people lots of questions and they were always willing to help. This made me learn much faster about all areas of the business. 

We have offices in a few different locations. I have been lucky enough to visit and work in the Sunshine Coast office a few times. This also gives me direct insight into our frontline team that deals with customers every day - an invaluable learning experience. 

We have a high performance culture at Open, and especially so within the BizOps team. There is a lot of flexibility as to how we work, but the expectations are high. The feedback culture is also very strong, which means not many people just accept the way things are done the first time, they are always looking for ways to give feedback to help make the work better. 

How would you describe your role to a 5 year old?

In your house, there are a few different rooms with different purposes. One for watching TV, one for cooking, one for sleeping. When something is not quite right, for example the tv stops working or a new process needs to be created for how to pack all the books on the bookshelf, my job is to use different tools to fix the problem or make something better. If I do my job well, the tv will be working better than before and the bookshelf will have a lovely new packing system. 

What does your day-to-day look like?

The purpose of the BizOps team is to define and drive critical operational and organisational improvements across Open. The team operates like an internal consulting group, but extends further than traditional ‘strategy’ teams in other organisations by driving real change at an implementation level.

We work on “special projects” across the business; either leading the project, supporting the implementation of the project or even doing a secondment to another team. This means the day-to-day can look very different. These are some areas that we are exposed to on nearly every project:

  • Analysis of Data: Use SQL and sheets to drive the right insights
  • Strategic problem solving: Take on vague problems, distil them into smaller clearer problems and ultimately solve those problems
  • Process improvement: Drive efficiencies in processes and manage change end-to-end
  • Project and stakeholder management: Build consensus among cross-functional teams and influence decision-making within leadership audiences.
  • Insurance expertise: Understand insurance deeply and apply that understanding to the problems and solutions across the business
  • Coaching: Coach other stakeholders regarding new processes, ways of working or implementation and change management

What does career progression/promotion look like for you?

There are two main categories of progression from the BizOps Manager level. 

  1. You can continue going up the ladder, moving into more senior BizOps roles and eventually reach the director or GM level. The level of responsibility and size of projects will increase as you go. 
  2. The other option is to spin out of BizOps and lead another function within the business or specialise as a senior team member in another division. This could happen if you find another area of the business you’re really interested in. 

For someone considering joining your company, what are 3 things they can expect?

I feel it apt to borrow from a previous post I wrote about breaking into BizOps and these three things still hold true for me and can be applied to moving into startups as well:

1. Pursue your interest. Easier said than done - I know! I was given this advice and I could only really follow it when I started exploring many different things. Don't be afraid to try something (like a new role) and assess and reassess whether it gives you energy or steals your energy.

2. Lean into analytics. Knowing SQL feels like a bit of a superpower and for a long time, I was resistant to getting my hands dirty. SQL is not a prerequisite; a lot can be achieved with basic knowledge of excel modelling. Being data-driven is one of the most powerful skills for BizOps, along with problem-solving and good communication.

3. Speak to people. You can gain an incredible amount of insight about a role when you hear from others who have done it. BizOps can also vary greatly depending on industry and company. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or a quick chat; people are kind and willing to help.

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