Female Leader Conversations Ebook feature, Araza Managing Director, Victoria Kluth said,
“I didn’t know who my authentic self was, but when I found her,
I grew one of the fastest growing companies in Australia for three years in a row.”
- Grew a company from two people in 2013 to over 300 people that turns over $30 million per annum
- Araza is an IT technology consultancy to ASX200 companies
- Victoria was recognised in 2018 as ARN Start Up Entrepreneur Winner, 2017 ARN Women in ICT Entrepreneur Winner, 2017 Business Leader of the Year Optus MyBusiness Awards and in 2016 was a finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Award
- Over the last two years Araza was recognised as a Westpac Business of Tomorrow and was a finalist in the Telstra Small Business Awards and Financial Times Asia’s 1000 High Growth Companies
- Araza was listed on the CRN and Deloitte Fast50 lists in 2018, 2017 and 2016. In 2017 Araza was also listed in the Deloitte Asia Fast 500 and in 2016 was recognised by Deloitte as a rising star
- Victoria started an organisation called 2186 to promote gender equality
Victoria Kluth founded Araza in 2013 after leaving her corporate career. Araza is an IT consulting, technology and systems integration organisation specialising in cloud computing, security, robotics and digital transformational solutions.
Victoria is a passionate advocate of gender equality and has embedded a culture at Araza of supporting diversity, with the company achieving 50% female workforce and gender balanced leadership. She started Araza Women Presents to provide a forum for successful women to share their leadership journey, and open a dialogue to make workplaces better for all.
How did you grow to $30 million in five years?
There are so many factors that go into the rapid growth of the organisation. We are no different than many other companies and our competitors. We strive for streamlined and agile operations and embrace new technologies. Our well-managed and controlled risk profile is followed in our growth strategy. All of that is true and we are a well-managed company. But the fun answer is that I have always seen growth as AWESOME and have no fear about a fast-paced company.
I also have confidence that I can succeed in a quick growth environment. In the first month of operation, I stole a quote which was “Why not us?”. I still have this phrase on the wall of our conference room. I felt like we could compete against the biggest international competitors and I still feel that way.
What are the IT trends affecting work?
I would never try and determine trends in technology. It changes so fast. However, I do know that static doesn’t work. Araza has already reinvented itself at least three times over in five years! It is important for Araza to stay agile and be willing to adapt to new trends and new ways of working. When I started Araza I never thought we would be working on robotics but, we are implementing robotics at a very large bank. Now my twelve-year-old niece is learning robotics languages and is not impressed with our work at all.
I am a little obsessed with the Internet of Things (IoT) and how IoT is going to change things more quickly than we can imagine. We are doing some interesting things with networks and data in IoT. But next year, we will need to be learning about different technologies.
How did you shape your gender equal employment culture?
Araza was at eleven people when we realised we were half women with a woman Managing Director. This was a powerful realisation. As a technology company we hired the best people we could. Half were women. I called my business partner and said, “As of today, we are a gender equitable organisation!”. We were taking the bias out of our hiring and we did not need quotas.
The most important thing is being deliberate with our culture. We live our values; be great and be grateful! We support diversity and diverse teams; we do not talk about it, we live it.
- Hire the best person for every role.
- Be open and honest about every person’s strengths.
- We have more women leaders (6 to 4), which I think naturally draws more female applicants.
- We have community programs like Araza Women Presents, which define our culture to our client and our competitors.
What is Araza Women Presents and 2186?
After Araza was a year in, I realised we needed to show that Araza had the answer regarding hiring. But, no one listens to small companies. A great way to get the Araza message out was to share women’s power stories with our team, our clients and community. I thought one person could share her story with a big Q&A at the end, hoping to get 30 or 40 people. We consistently attract about 200.
We have invited international headliners like tennis star Martina Navratilova and rapper Cheryl James of Salt n Pepa. Also, women who make Australia proud like Nicola Scott who is a global star illustrator in the world of DC Comics. The feedback is that it is empowering. That is awesome.
2186 is my organisation that champions women in leadership and equality.