The tech industry doesn’t stay still, but that’s one of the most exciting things about being part of it, according to Idriz Adedoja, Head of Finance at data visualisation software provider (scale up) Vizlib & Astrato Analytics.
Idriz initially did a business admin degree, but after completing it, decided he wanted to try something “more focused”.
“I was really good at hard or further maths, and I was going to teach maths in a secondary school. I went in to do a week in a high school, and the first day was okay, but the following four days were atrocious,” he says. “I didn’t think I had enough patience.”
Starting his career
After rejecting this option, he decided to look at something else finance related and took a role with Legal & General as a client services representative and investment data analyst. But, following three years with the firm, he decided to pursue an accounting degree at Brighton University.
“What that meant was that I didn’t have a life for about four years, all I did was work, study, gym. But at that point, I wanted experience and wanted to move on from Legal & General,” he says.
After qualifying, Idriz joined an accountancy firm in Canary Wharf, which he says was a great place to start and learn finance in practice.
“If I was going to advise anyone now, it would be just go into practice – you can’t pick a better place to start as an accountant.”
“And you have to be specific – the more boutique the practice, the better. For me, I don’t like to be pigeonholed, and you just get to be involved in a lot more.”
Following this role, he took various jobs in both practice and industry, but over the years started to gravitate towards the tech industry, especially while working for another boutique firm called iHorizon.
“It was incredible,” says Idriz. “It was also crazy because you work longer hours, but it was also fun because I got exposure to all types of start ups and scale ups which was where I managed to develop a really strong affinity for tech companies.”
He ended up leaving this role after finding it hard to split himself between 50 different company reviews and still give value to each.
“I wanted to go into a company where I could add value, where I could be a part of it and see the company grow and then actually contribute,” he says. This company turned out to be Vizlib, which he joined in 2019.
“I was the first hire in the finance team and needed to set up infrastructures for the group, previously three entities, now seven.”
Needing an open mind
While accounting has provided Idriz with opportunities to try many different sectors, the constant change within the tech industry is what he finds particularly exciting.
“Ending up within a tech start up is definitely my favourite, because you just get exposure to so many different things you don’t get taught at university or school, even during your training to become an accountant,” he says.
“When you come here you have to open your mind and when something needs to be done you have to say I’m here, take me, because there’s so much stuff happening.”
“You have to be reactive, but then in some way you need to be proactive as well so that you don’t get caught unawares.”
“Roll up your sleeves and let’s go.”
Growth in difficulty
Though there have been challenges over the past couple of years in particular, with the Covid pandemic, Idriz says this period was also one of strong growth for the business.
“I remember a board member asking me, what did I think, are we being impacted by Covid, and I couldn’t really give a clear answer because we were still growing as a business at that time,” he says.
This growth he puts down to the crisis management skills of the team, as well as the product, which is essentially data visualisation software – a product companies were investing in during Covid and beyond.
“To make strategic decisions, you need tools that will turn your data into a story and dashboards to tell that story,” says Idriz.
“So, we went through the pandemic without using any of the Government’s Covid support, we were self-sufficient (bootstrapping) and with no fundraising, and we were still growing and hiring.
“That was definitely one of the proudest moments in my career.”
Idriz’s Power Profile
Who is your hero?
“If I was going to sit down and have dinner with someone, it would be a guy called Tidjane Thiam. He’s a French Ivorian and used to be the CFO of Prudential and CEO of Credit Suisse.
“Let’s not beat around the bush, there’s not very many black representatives out there when it comes to C-level or if you look at listed companies, and for me, how he’s managed the journey to get to that stage, as such a respected figure in the business world, is incredible.”
What music empowers you?
“I actually listen to anything, but I’m more afrobeats, old school R&B, house, soca. The only thing that’s probably off the table would be heavy metal. But my playlist now would be Burna Boy, Wizkid, Michael Kiwanuka, Jay Z, Dave, J Hus, Wiley, maybe Stormzy and then different collaborations.”