April's 60 Second Interview is with Andrei Balta, Chief Operating Officer at Pets at Home Vet Group.
Company: Pets at Home Vet Group
Founded: 1991 Staff: >7000
Studied: MORSE at Warwick and MBA at Insead
Eating: Anything that casts a shadow
Reading: “The three body problem” by Cixin Liu
Favourite business book: “The Ultimate Questions” by Fred Reichheld
Talents: I am very good at spotting other people’s errors (it’s not as useful as it sounds)
Heroes: John Nash
First ambition: To become a football player
Motto: It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission
How do you know The Barton Partnership?
I have been a somewhat regular client for the last 2-3 years.
Why did you first get into strategy?
Love of solving problems and fear of commitment (to an industry or capability).
What was the most significant frustration during your time in consulting?
The fact that, no matter how strong a relationship I would build with my clients, I was always an outsider and never got to see things through to the end.
What was the most difficult/challenging project you have worked on as a consultant?
They were all pretty challenging, which is why I loved being a consultant...Probably the most difficult time I had was a 6 month period when I had to commute between London and Texas every fortnight.
What advice would you give a consultant who is about to move into an internal strategy role for the first time?
Focus on people and building relationships. Communication, people skills and emotional intelligence are far more important in the real world than in the ‘consulting bubble’.
What was the biggest adjustment you had to undergo when moving from Consulting to Industry?
Dealing with the fact that I was the only one left working in the office after 7pm and there was never anyone there to have a quick take-away dinner with. That was very strange...
Tell us about the company you work for at the moment
I work for Pets at Home Vet Group, the largest provider of veterinary services in the UK, with over 420 clinics across the country, a business that quadrupled in size in the last four years.
What was the most difficult project you have worked on at Pets at Home and why?
A post merger integration project which brought together two businesses of nearly equal size. The challenge of bringing together two cultures and ways of working should not be underestimated.
Do you have a favourite interview question?
‘Where do you want to be in 5/10 years time’ followed by ‘What is stopping you from getting there faster?’