Pravin Raj

CEO/COO/GM, Board Member, Coach

I help investment backed B2B SaaS and Services firms scale profitably through insights and systems

"Thank you very much for your company-changing impact. It is clear we are very different company today, as compared to the day you joined us." - COO of a Professional Services Firm"You coached them, ala Bill Campbell, through the eye of the storm, helping them mature as an executive team" - PE Managing Partner referring to my work as a Board Advisor at their PortCo

What can I do for you?

The first challenge is identify the root cause(s) and blockers to growth. Marshall Goldsmith famously said "What got you here, won't get you there." Approaching problems as a disciplined General Manager, isolating patterns in the data and working backwards from customers, I will use my insights to identify and articulate the core issues preventing you from achieving your growth ambitions.The second challenge is to implement the systems (or mechanisms) and discipline necessary for scale. James Clear in his book Atomic Habits says "If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead." Most companies focus on new logo acquisition. While this is necessary at all stages, it is not sufficient as you scale. Most scale-up businesses ignore the need for a well-understood strategic roadmap and internal operating model (inclusive of systems) that considers the entire lifecycle of a customer, market direction, and competition.This is where I come in ... I will lead you through a gap analysis to understand your market and competition, identify sustainable yet aggressive goals, build a 3-5 year plan with the right operating model, and coach your C-suite leaders to execute the plan effectively. The operating models will be appropriate for your culture and the systems* will help you scale in the years ahead.I can do this in one of three ways:

1/ Interim or Fractional Leader (CEO, COO, or GM)2/ Advisor (Growth Architect)3/ Board Member (Hands-on)

*By systems, I'm referring to battle-tested and proven Operational Excellence mechanisms, including those that have helped Amazon and Cisco scale. These include Working Backwards, Weekly Business Reviews, Recruiting with Bar Raisers, Goal Setting & Performance Management via Objectives & Key Results (OKRs), and Correction of Error Analysis.Lastly, writing with precision is one of my strengths. I can guide the development of your strategic narratives, business plans, and GTM messaging to help you raise money, win customers, and galvanize your team around a mission.

Why me?

I am a senior executive who has built and scaled multi-hundred million dollar global services businesses at both Amazon and Cisco. Recognized as a top-performing operator, I am valued for my critical thinking, high standards, and delivering results with the minimum of surprises. I bring a deep understanding of Professional Services GTM and Delivery, Customer Experience Strategy, Cloud Computing, Tech and data-enabled Transformation, and Operational Excellence Mechanisms critical to scale. I have the ability to quickly assimilate large volumes of data to create meaningful insights, stimulate idea generation, and accelerate value creation. Colleagues have said that my superpower is asking the tough questions and tracing out with analysis and data what the next step should be.A recent 360 survey and Hogan assessment described me as a “critical thinker, driven, energetic, and action-oriented executive with high integrity and standards. He has the ability to deal with a great deal of ambiguity, is an agile learner, and persists in the face of headwinds. As one of our best doc writers, he can be a perfectionist who dives very deep and does not suffer fools gladly.”Balancing both strategy and attention to detail, my 6-word career story is: "Unseen details make strategic ambitions possible.".In addition, I can draw upon a network of other senior independent consultants including founders, CEOs, VPs/Directors from AWS and Cisco, technical architects, creatives, and project managers. As an expert-driven model, my only interest is in solving your specific problem.

Who am I working with?

Sample Advisory and Board Engagements include:+ Board Advisor at Solvd - Advising the CEO and executive team on growth strategies, channel partnerships, and operational excellence mechanisms necessary to meet growth targets set by the PE firm (Siguler Guff).+ Advisor for a Stealth B2C startup - Advising the founders on launch strategies of a differentiated (with over 17 patents) device connecting the home to healthcare, via a wellness hub.+ Senior Advisor, SMC - Overseeing the digital transformation of a legacy business that promises to improve margins by 15-20%; Also, advising the PE firm (HighView) and their portfolio companies on digital best practices.+ Fractional Head of BizDev for - Advising the founders on GTM strategies and helping land first customers for this innovative SaaS company in the customer intent space.+ Advisory Board Member, BIS Department, Neeley School of Business, TCU - Advocating for and preparing the next generation by guest lecturing, conducting mock interviews, reviewing case studies, and mentoring students during their junior and senior years at Texas Christian University.

Curriculum Vitae - Pravin raj

Record of increased revenue growth and customer success:2023 - present: As Founder at OpenRun Ventures LLC, provide fractional, advisory, and board services to Professional Services and tech-enabled businesses.2021 - 2022: As Managing Director for AWS Professional Services business, co-led the $353MM (+18% YoY) in the US, delivering ~1000 engagements at ~500 enterprise customers with a customer satisfaction score of 9.4/10.0, with a team of ~1,700.2015 - 2021: As COO for AWS Professional Services, contributed to 60x revenue growth, 40x headcount growth, and multi-billion dollars in downstream platform revenue, by architecting all strategic planning, operational execution, financial management, sales and delivery enablement, employee learning, and quality programs.2012 - 2015: As COO for Cisco Consulting, integrated and revitalized multiple existing services teams with diverse mandates into one Cisco Consulting Services entity. Conceived all internal Transformation and Operations efforts from the initial instantiation to $100MM revenue run rate. Enabled 66% bookings and 38% revenue growth while reducing costs 7% in FY'14.1999 - 2015: Progressively advanced into roles of increasing scale and complexity over 13 years at Cisco Systems, including leadership positions with Internet Business Solutions Group, Services Portfolio Management, Services Marketing, and Global Education.1991 - 1999: Early-in-career stops at Ernst & Young Management Consulting and American Airlines Decision Technologies (now known as Sabre).

Education:M.S. Industrial Engineering and Operations Research University of Alabama | USA
B.E. Mechanical Engineering Anna University | India


Articles, Blog posts, Book, and Videos+ Harsh Truths about Solo Entrepreneurship
+ Introducing OpenRun Ventures - March 2023
+ Musings on Life - February 2023
+ The Great Realization - December 2022
+ AWS broadens focus on Innovation Acceleration - Forrester Blog (2018)
+ The Importance of Leadership in managing through Change - Video (2018)
+ Prioritizing your team during cloud adoption - Video 2018
+ Engaging your development teams - Video (2018)
+ The importance of shipping something important - Video (2018)
+ Lead the certification charge - Video (2018)
+ Iterating towards a cloud-enabled IT organization - AWS re:Invent (2018)
+ Preparing your team for Cloud Transformation - Albert Qian (2018)
+ Digital Transformation Tips - Mercedes Cardona (2018)
+ *Connected Transportation* (2005) - a collection of essays by 15 industry-leading CEOs, visionaries, and policy makers including Sir Rod Eddington (CEO, British Airways), Dr Frank Appel (CEO, DHL Logistics), Dr. Richard John (Volpe National Transportation Systems Center), Dr. Joseph Sussman (MIT), David Neeleman (Chairman and CEO, JetBlue Airways), and Dr. David Pang (CEO, Airport Authority, Hong Kong)

Transitioning from a three decade long corporate career to a portfolio career (learn more here and here), OpenRun Ventures LLC is my vehicle to capture everything I do for Intellectual Stimulation, Financial Satisfaction, and Emotional Happiness. There is so much to be grateful for. Blessed with good health, good fortune, an amazing family, supportive friends, and experiences I would not trade, I desire to "live forward", eager to return all that I have learned.Four pillars to my portfolio career:+ Advisory and Boards - see How, Why, and Who on this site.+ Teaching - I prepare the next generation for corporate life by guest lecturing, conducting mock interviews, reviewing case studies, and mentoring BIS students during their junior and senior years at Texas Christian University. Go Frogs! Learn more here.+ Investments - I invest in entrepreneurs and businesses who are working hard to change the world and their community.+ Philanthropy - There is work and then, there is life. I grow by prioritizing Milestone Church, pediatric health research, and education programs for girls in India.Why OpenRun? Three reasons:
1/ "The Ski Runs are Open" is one of our family's favorite times of the year.
2/ I value the principles of collaborative participation, transparency, rapid prototyping, and meritocracy - all of which are core to the Open source movement.
3/ "Running with the Bulls" is both on my bucket list and a metaphor for entrepreneurship.