Meet The Virti Team: Stephen Hart, Chief Operating Officer
We’re kicking off our ‘Meet The Virti Team’ series with a Q&A with our COO, Stephen.
Can you tell us a little bit about your professional background?
I spent the first 20 years of my working life as a Royal Marine. During that career I got to really understand and experience high performing cultures. I also developed an interest, and published research, in how to develop great leaders.
Immediately after leaving the Marines I moved to the NHS, where I spent four years as the managing director of the NHS Leadership Academy. During that time I was responsible for training and development of 50000 NHS colleagues annually, including delivery of Europe’s largest Master programme – the NHS Leadership MSc.
When did you first become interested in virtual and augmented reality technology?
I have always been interested in bringing technology to bear to address the twin challenges of reaching how people learn and improving learning outcomes. Virtual and augmented reality technology has proven itself to be a huge force multiplier for organisations who are looking for a way to scale high-impact learning and development to their teams.
Why did you join the Virti team?
After four years in the NHS I was looking for a new challenge, one where I could leverage the skills and knowledge I developed in the NHS and military in an environment that was agile and fast moving. I was really keen to join a small high-performing team where the quality of my colleagues, and the scale of ambition of the organisation challenged me to be my best self. I met the Virti CE and the Virti team over the course of several weeks to test the company culture. It has been a great fit.
Can you describe your role at Virti?
My role as Virti is the Chief Operating Officer. It is my responsibility to assure delivery of the company strategy. I oversee the daily operations of the company across people, revenue and sales, customers, and business support. My most important role is with the company people. My role is to support them by enabling easy communication flows, simple processes, and clarity of direction.
What skills did you bring to the team, and what skills have you developed since joining?
I have significant experience in managing and leading a team through growth and change. This was something I was privileged to do when I worked with the NHS. From my time in the military I also have experience of working with high-performing teams where the skill sets and cultural background of individuals are very different. Since joining Virti, my technical understanding of software development and my knowledge of commercial processes has been on an almost vertical curve. I have loved learning completely new skills and approaches from the technology and sales teams in Virti.
What excites you about being part of Virti?
There is a restless energy in the Virti team. We know we have great products and are working with some incredible customers who are at the cutting edge of applying learning technology to support their organisations. We are growing incredibly quickly, and every day brings new challenges. I can spend time writing 5 years strategy plans, and also time fixing monitor brackets to the wall. I do what is necessary to support the team; that is exciting.
What’s your proudest achievement (so far) as part of the Virti team?
If I get my job right I will be seen everywhere, and will listen much more than I transmit. My successes are where the Virti team have been freed from routine and are able to focus on where they can add most value for Virti. When salary payments, invoicing, information management, communication flow, and business processes are all easy to understand, done right, and done on time – that is when I am delivering for Virti.
How have you found working from home during lockdown?
I have two young daughters (7 & 5) and my partner also works full-time. Working from home during lockdown has been much simpler than delivering home-school! As an international business who work in time zones from Australia, through India and Africa, across Europe and to the West Coast of the USA – working from home and exploiting the opportunities of video conferencing is essential. Across Virti we were always using technology to bring teams together, it is great now that so many of our partners are also using this technology.
How do you think that COVID-19 will affect the trajectory of the company?
At Virti our core value proposition is supporting our customers to deliver highly effective learning at scale and reach. COVID-19 has shown every organisation that having this capability is not a ‘nice-to-have’ - it is essential to thrive in the contemporary business space.
Looking ahead, what do you think the rest of 2020 holds for Virti?
For Virti, 2020 is going to mark the start of our rapid growth. We began this year as a UK-based start-up with a US sales team, a few early adopting customers and big ambitions. Half-way through the year, we have multiplied our revenues by ten-fold, we are onboarding blue chip organisations to our platform, and we are building and growing our team with more highly effective, agile, colleagues who share our growth mindset.
How do you unwind on the weekends?
I try to keep balance in my life. I love my work, and I am not shy of putting in time over weekends and in the evenings; not because it is necessary – but because I enjoy it. My family keep me honest and stop me from being too obsessive about work. I also retain a military discipline with regard to physical exercise. After 20 years’ service I will always look in the mirror and see a Marine looking back at me. I run or work-out every day, and whenever I can I head to the beach to kite-surf.
Thanks for these excellent answers Stephen! Keep an eye out for more team Q&As coming over the next few months.
If you’d like to get in touch with Stephen, you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.