‘I wish I’d known how valuable investing time and effort into team development can be’
Building a company is a difficult task. Whether starting their own or growing an established business, these leaders have made a name for themselves as some of the best of the best. So, what makes business leaders tick and what are they aiming to achieve when all is said and done? We spoke to Amol Devani, CEO and Co-Founder of Bright Little Stars Nursery Group, about his journey in business.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
The most significant hurdle in my career was taking the leap from the Investment Banking world to launching Bright Little Stars Nursery. As a London native and graduate of the London School of Economics, I spent a decade working in foreign exchange divisions in London, New York, and Switzerland, ultimately reaching the level of Managing Director.
Despite having a very successful career spanning over 10 years in the financial industry, I found myself feeling something was missing. I realised that I wanted to seek a career that had greater social benefits and contributed more to the community.
My wife, a teacher at the time, inspired me to venture into the realm of education. A massive leap for me, it was definitely challenging as I soon realised that different industries require very different leadership approaches but thankfully I was quick to learn from my initial mistakes.
This switch of career is to this day, one of the biggest challenges I faced, however, it has been one of the most rewarding. My Co-Founder, Rupeen Popat joining this journey with me has certainly helped. As well as not being afraid to make mistakes was key to overcoming the challenges faced in my first years of running Bright Little Stars and also the ability to adapt my way of working.
Is there anything you wish you knew before you first started out?
I wish I’d known earlier how valuable investing time and effort into team development can be. With the right balance of management, you’ll find that your team can be just as passionate about the business as you are, delivering impressive results that often exceed expectations.
Did you always want to be a business leader or did the desire develop over time?
I consider myself fortunate to have been surrounded by inspiring business leaders in my family and community whilst growing up. As a result, I’ve always been intrigued by entrepreneurial ventures, launching my first business at the age of 16 and another one the following year.
My time in Investment Banking taught me a lot of skills which I was able transfer into Bright Little Stars from business acumen, strategy, efficiency, communication and networking to leadership – all of which have been invaluable as an entrepreneur.
What is your top tip for other business leaders?
I will refer to a Mahatma Gandhi quote that always inspired me, “live as if you were to die tomorrow; learn as if you were to live forever.”
For me, in business, this means embracing every opportunity and never ceasing to seek out areas to expand your knowledge and growth.
What are your plans for the future?
My vision for the future includes steady expansion whilst maintaining our high standards of quality and care.
Our main focus in 2024 is our Academy programme, aiming to ensure every employee in every position has a clear professional development journey.
Additionally, I aim to further develop our Parent Educational Programme, which offers parents online, live and interactive training. We already cover a range of topics from Paediatric First Aid and Mindfulness to workshops on perpetual issues such as teething and sleep, however, it would be great to offer even more sessions and tools. As a business, it is really important for us to take a holistic approach to childcare and this includes helping parents.
What would you like your legacy to be?
We currently take care of 800 children and employ 250 staff across six settings in London. Being recognised by the National Day Nurseries Association for Nursery of the Year – South England 2023 has been a highlight, but we aim to keep innovating within the Early Years industry and amplify the impact of our nursery group.
What makes a great business leader?
While leadership styles can vary based on the industry and situation, the three traits that I have aspired to emulate in my journey are:
Vision: Having a clear strategic vision for the key objectives and impact of your business.
Communication: Cultivating a culture of open communication, ensuring everyone has the necessary information to succeed and ensuring you’re actively listening to your teams. Feedback can be important and while you may not agree or proceed with every view, by listening to your staff you show empathy and reinforce a sense of value.
Integrity: Upholding ethical, fair and honest conduct, especially with your employees – after all, employees’ trust in their leaders is a cornerstone for any successful business.