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Business In:Brief with Ashik Ahmed (Deputy)


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Ashik Ahmed

Ashik Ahmed

CTO, CEO and co-founder of Deputy, 2003 - present

Ashik is CEO, CTO and co-founder of Deputy, the homegrown workforce management solution that's pegged to be Australia's next tech unicorn. Deputy automates staff scheduling as well as time and attendance management so that business owners can focus on growing their businesses.
Ashik was born in Bangladesh and migrated to Australia in 1997. Since then, Ashik has gone from flipping burgers at a fast-food chain in Melbourne to being featured in the 2019 Australian Financial Review Young Rich List, coming in at number 25 – at 38 years old.

What was your first job?

My first job was working for Hungry Jacks in Melbourne – I was the first person in my family to start working in Australia after we moved here in 1997. I studied Computer Science in Melbourne and following that, got a gig working as a Software Engineer. Fast forward a few years and I joined my co-founder Steve Shelley at his aviation ground academy helping to build a platform that automated the process of employee scheduling and assisted in tracking and managing attendance at the workplace. This was the start of Deputy.

What's your proudest achievement?

I fundamentally believe that pride comes before a fall, so I do not necessarily think of my proudest achievement and that is still in the making. On a personal level – my wife saying yes to me.

What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?

The importance of finding solutions. I've spent my career devoted to building technologies that create better, more efficient organisations. Before solutions are created, you need to deep dive on an issue and workshop how to solve it. The insights and learnings gathered in that process are the greatest surprises of the whole journey.

How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?

In 2018, we closed a $111 million Series B funding round – Australia's largest Series B round in history. This funding accelerated our growth and helped to transform the world of hourly-paid work by continuing to improve the Deputy platform with new and innovative features. We're now prioritising building a world-class engineering team here in Sydney to continue building industry leading tools that empower businesses to truly fulfil the ultimate potential their business has to offer.

I envisage a day where every single shift is on Deputy. It may not be in my lifetime but, every day I work to inspire the team to help us get there. I place a lot of importance in explaining Deputy's mission, whether that's new team members, potential customers or even people not in our industry.

What other business leaders do you most admire and why?

I am a massive fan of Ben Horowitz and Elon Musk – their vision, execution and relationships. I also admire Jeff Bezos.

What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?

A person's hunger will always triumph experience. When hiring, now, I always evaluate a candidate's attitude and passion for the mission to determine whether they are a good fit. From there, we can train for skill but the kind of person they are and the soft skills they possess are far more important.

Three things that stop people from achieving what they want to do – conformity, monkey see monkey do, doing something to please somebody. Trying to make people happy etc.

What advice would you pass on to someone starting out in your area?

See the company you are building as a community working together to achieve a clear common purpose. In my eyes, this is what success comes down to and how a business is maintained through the years.

Business In:Brief is a regular interview feature that profiles a notable business leader each month. It is also included as part of our business newsletter, which you can sign up for below.

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