When Hitchhiking and Harvey's Are Life
...a conversation with Ramnik Kamboj, Director, Operations Finance with dentalcorp
Tell me a bit about your team and your role?
My team and I can be considered as a support group for “core finance”. We provide analysis and insights into the data for a number of different stakeholders. We work cross-functionally with Operations, Practice Marketing, Talent, Corporate Communications, Corporate Development – any team or project that requires statistical analysis. It’s the art of layering logic, insights, and business acumen over facts and numbers. We sort of function like a “Support Centre for the Support Centre”.
We’ve been building out the team and its responsibilities over the last three years. There are four of us now – we are growing and evolving along with the business and its systems.
Tell me about your background – how long have you been with dentalcorp and what were you doing before you joined?
Prior to dentalcorp, I was at Deloitte. I was there for four years, trying to get my foundations right. I then spent a year in a transactional advisory capacity, but I found I was missing hands-on experience. When you work at a firm, the work is high-level. You don’t get a chance to execute. dentalcorp was one of our bigger clients, and when I learned of a great opportunity with this growing company, where I could blend Operations and Finance – it was ideal. It’s now three years later and I couldn’t be happier.
Have you always wanted to be in Finance? What did you want to be when you were a kid?
I was in India until the age of 13, and there was an army base not far from where I lived. There were these fighter jets, continually taking off, going over my house…yeah I wanted to be a fighter jet pilot. Pivot! Now I’m an accountant. But really, it’s all about push and pull, i.e. what you’re good at and what is the demand. And also, the influence of your upbringing. We were middle class. My parents were a professor and a teacher – but they were also into finance. They instilled in me the importance of budgeting, making sound financial decisions. They taught me to ask myself: “Do I really need that?” My interests spanned operations, finance, IT, analytics – so I knew I’d end up working in a role that somehow encompassed those interests.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Like most of us here at the Support Centre, there is no typical day. There are a lot of ad hoc requests that come to me, that could involve virtually anything to do with data. There’s not a routine, but there is a certain flow of regular deliverables, like daily reports for stakeholders. Otherwise, there is a lot of variety. I am generally pulled into new programs from the Operations team looking to measure their successs – how do we do that? These are the types of questions I help answer. As I mentioned, I work cross-functionally with a number of teams. We could be looking at procedure codes to analyze how practices are operating, or looking at compliance.
Tell me a story? What’s an experience you’ve had that’s really left an impact?
I was backpacking in Thailand, and I ran out of money. There were no ATMs where I was. So, I had to hitchhike my way around the island. I couldn’t believe how generous people were, and that we were able to communicate with each other so well simply through gestures. It made an impact on me in terms of seeing core human values and how travel and meeting new people is so important. Everyone has a story to tell, and those stories cross any language. It’s made me look at people differently and underscored in me the importance of us all helping each other out.
Currently, we are all working remotely and self-isolating due to COVID-19. What has this experience been like for you so far?
Despite the challenges and the not-so-great news stories, I see the good stories that are right in front of us as well. I went out for a bike ride, and there was a bin that someone had put outside with masks and a sign “Take one if you need one”. You see churches opening their doors to house the community. I think in times of crisis we get to see what people are truly like. Even in dentalcorp when we have our zoom calls, with kids, pets, etc. taking part – we get to see ourselves, our leaders, and our teammates in a different light. It’s a rare opportunity.
Tell me something about yourself that your co-workers would never guess?
With me, everything is on the table and those who know me are aware of it. I’m really into thrifting. COVID-19 has put a temporary halt on that but it’s one of my passions. A good find in a thrift shop is like winning the lottery. Once I found a dress shirt from Club Monaco for $5. I bought it, dry-cleaned it, put it on, and went to the mall. There, I ran into a buddy of mine in the same shirt. He paid $80 for his. That was a good moment.
What are your aspirations for personal and professional growth? Do you have a 5 year plan?
If history is a teacher, there is always so much more to learn. Whether it’s business, technology, or people, every year I learn new things by taking ownership. That’s a very helpful concept – asking yourself are you a renter or are you an owner? Taking ownership means you are pushing yourself forward and taking accountability for results. Do I have a 5 year plan? Learning. Learning is the 5 year plan.
What advice do you have for new team members joining dentalcorp’s Support Centre?
Take advantage of entrepreneurial ownership. Question how we’re doing things. If you see an example of someone who’s doing something right – reach out to them. Find out how they’re doing it. Incorporate that into something the company can benefit from: “I have an idea. We can do it this way.” Propose something! It’s crucial for your personal and professional development at dentalcorp.
Anything you’d like to use this article to communicate to our readers?
Yes. First – don’t litter. It drives me insane. When I was a kid, my dad used to get all the kids in the neighbourhood together to help clean up so I think my anti-litter mentality started there. Second – people have this conception that I eat healthy all the time – it’s not real. I want to dispel that notion once and for all. Yes, I often bring a homemade lunch to the office and I work out, but I also enjoy my Harvey's. I am probably the most healthy, unhealthy guy around. Third - Recently I have been volunteering with organizations such as Junior Achievement and CPA Canada to teach financial literacy to kids as well as adults from all walks of life. This has a been a huge passion of mine and I really love empowering people with the financial knowledge to achieve their goals. I encourage everyone to look at their finances and take control of your financial freedom.