My Working Day – Ammar Kutait – CEO and Founder of W1TTY
As the leader of a company, you are there to set an example, to lead and inspire a team of individuals to achieve a series of business goals. But how do these business leaders go about their daily routine? Business Leader spoke to Ammar Kutait, CEO and Founder of W1TTY, about his working day.
What time do you usually wake up?
When I’m not travelling, I’m awake at 7am.
What do you typically have for breakfast?
Breakfast is very important for me. It lays down a foundation for the day and gives me the energy to hit the ground running. I have a high vegan protein diet in the mornings, which means zero carbs. I tend to eat foods like beans, quinoa and occasionally I break my no-carb rule and have a traditional Russian breakfast porridge called Kasha.
What’s the rest of your morning routine before you start work?
I do a lot of endurance horse riding. In fact, I’m doing a 100-km endurance race in January to raise money for charity, so when possible, I like to do endurance ridings in the morning. That’s followed by a quick scan of the news, before getting stuck into my emails and the rest of the day’s activities.
What’s the first thing you do at the start of a workday?
My first job is answering emails. W1TTY is an international business, and we operate in regions including Poland, Lithuania and Portugal. Managing different time zones means I have a constant stream of emails to respond to. As an entrepreneur, it’s important to manage emails efficiently. If not, you are at risk of spending your entire day just responding to emails instead of leading the company to achieve important strategic objectives.
Once my emails are done, I always aim to have a two-hour managerial meeting to discuss what’s happening across the business and put in plans to tackle any immediate tasks in need of attention. Being a fintech start-up, there are plenty of tech updates, software system planning and commercial work going on – I like to make sure I’m all over that.
How do you prioritise your work?
Prioritisation is hard to achieve when running a start-up – everything is incredibly fast-moving, so oftentimes the tasks I set myself at the start of a day will need to be pushed aside when ad-hoc priorities come in.
We’re close to launching W1TTY in the UK now, having secured our EMI license from the FCA, so my priorities are gravitating towards ensuring our technology, marketing and operations are all in line ahead of the launch.
My daily managerial meetings give me a good overview of what actions I need to complete day-by-day too, which I will try to follow as best as I can.
Do you plan meetings, or are they a waste of time?
I don’t think planned meetings are a waste of time at all. In fact, I would say my daily meetings are some of the most crucial hours I spend during the day. I occasionally really benefit from an end-of-day meeting too, to catch up on the progress of some of the more pressing tasks we have on – particularly as our business grows.
I do think it’s easy for meetings to tip the line of becoming unproductive, however, so it’s important to make sure everyone sticks to the agenda for what needs to be achieved. I do not like meetings that drag on – once we have addressed all items on an agenda and everyone is happy with the subsequent actions, I am quick to log off and start my next task.
Do you have a working lunch, or is it good to take a break?
I have a working lunch almost every day. I like to sit with colleagues and talk about business – but in a more informal and conversational way. I like to hear what different people across W1TTY are working on and what they’re excited about, such as any upcoming projects. It also fosters a positive and collaborative work culture.
I don’t tend to take a break as I don’t personally need it. My momentum really picks up after lunch and that’s when I’m most productive.
When does your working day finish?
The productivity boost that I get after lunch tends to see me through until about 8pm. I personally get more work done in the evenings, but I know everyone is different. I don’t really mind when my staff finish work. I think it’s important for people to take responsibility for their own work and I trust them to complete their tasks – whenever that may be!
How do you prepare for your next day’s work?
I always have an email draft where I input actions that I send myself every night. That’s a rolling to-do-list and helps me keep on top of everything. It puts me one step ahead and ensures I’m on top of everything I need to be.
What’s your favourite piece of technology?
Slack. I was one of the first to adopt Slack back in 2016 and I implemented it in a former business of mine. It’s easy to use, clear and I can go back and check if I’ve got answers to messages. It’s an efficient way of working.
Since launching W1TTY, I’ve moved back to emails. Being a regulated entity means we need important and sensitive documents sent through email, so that’s what we use now for communication. However, I think Slack is a great piece of technology for businesses. Its mass adoption during the pandemic is testament to this.
How do you switch off?
Playing with my kids. It’s a guaranteed way of putting business matters to the back of my head! I also like to read or watch things that do not require much thinking. Documentaries or history programmes, for instance, really help me to switch off.
The best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
This might sound strange, but the best piece of advice I have ever received was from my father. We used to play backgammon when I was young, and I could never win. One day, in utter frustration I flipped the board over when I thought he was a few moves shy of winning the game. Instead of being mad, he simply smiled and rearranged the pieces on the board as they were. He then showed me how I could have turned the game around with a few simple moves. He then told me something which has become my mantra in life – “don’t die until death comes to you.” It means never surrender.
Running a tech start-up isn’t easy. It’s a competitive space and you will undoubtedly face some setbacks. That piece of advice from my father has really helped me to overcome some of the challenges I’ve faced and, as a result, we’re now about to launch W1TTY in its fourth region.