Vargha Moayed is Chief Strategy Officer of UiPath, a leading enterprise software automation company. In this role, Moayed works closely with UiPath CEO Daniel Dines and the senior leadership to formulate and communicate key strategic initiatives. He is responsible for ensuring strategic plans are implemented rapidly and that all operational areas are informed, aligned, and accountable.

Throughout his professional services career, Moayed has consulted multinational organizations on corporate strategy, sales management, and organizational effectiveness. His previous experience includes co-founding a software company and a high-tech incubator with Goldman Sachs as lead investor. He also worked for McKinsey in North America and was a vice president of corporate development for First Data.

In an interview with TheBizz Magazine, Moayed spoke about the evolution and rise of the company with Romanian origins, culminating with the historical listing on the New York Stock Exchange, the plans for the local market and global development prospects of the new technologies sector in the current context.

 

UiPath is the first company established in Romania to be listed in New York, on the largest stock exchange in the world. What does this step mean for the future development of the company?

Our IPO was a big step toward realizing our vision of a robot for every person. We’re proud of where the company is today, but this is only the beginning of UiPath’s next chapter. We remain focused on UiPath’s long-term vision and the opportunity ahead.

Our job now is to continue to help businesses unlock human creativity by enabling the fully automated enterprise. We have more than 8,500 customers, including 80% of the Fortune 10 and more than 60% of the Fortune Global 500.

We have a large customer base, and many of our customers are only just starting on their automation journeys.

Traditional approaches to business process automation have been time consuming and expensive, often requiring significant change of infrastructure and process, skilled engineers to code and test, and influential project managers to navigate numerous stakeholders. Thus, automation has been economically justifiable only for the highest volume, standardized, and static processes, limiting the scope and potential of automation.

Much like how self-driving cars emulate human drivers but still reuse the existing car and road infrastructure, we have created a form of automation that emulates people performing a business activity on a computer. The software infrastructure, existing applications, and workflows are reused, thus reducing complexity and cost of implementation.

This new approach to automation is made possible by integrating and advancing a number of disparate technologies: AI (especially computer vision and machine learning), user interface automation, API integration, workflow automation, orchestration, and low-code development.

Emulation expands the scope of automatable use cases to those that were difficult to automate by other means, unlocking the opportunity for tremendous economic benefits. It allows us to build a horizontal automation platform that facilitates adoption of automation across various business groups: finance, operations, sales & marketing, HR, and legal and across different industries: financial services, healthcare, high tech, retail, and the public sector.

We estimate our current global market opportunity to be more than $60 billion, which we expect will grow as automation adoption increases and customers continue to further explore the use cases that our platform addresses. We remain focused on our mission to unlock human creativity by enabling the fully automated enterprise and are very confident in our ability to execute.

 

From the office established in Bucharest to the status of global “decacorn”. What is the success recipe and what were the key moments in the evolution of UiPath?

Starting in place with a small local market has a hidden advantage. It forces you to think and act globally from day one. This early-on global approach enriched our culture and our product as well as propelled our sales.

From 10 people in an apartment in Romania in 2015, we grew in six years into a multinational business in nearly 30 countries, with $580 million in Annual Recurring Revenue, being one of the fastest growing modern enterprise software companies ever. It is a tribute to the product, our speed of innovation, and the market opportunity being perfectly aligned. But it is also a tribute to the people and the culture of UiPath. There is not really a single recipe but a multitude of events and actions that aligned well truly. And of course a bit of luck (never to be underestimated)!

There have been several key moments. While the company was founded in 2005 and was building automations for developers, the first key moment happened in 2013, when the team discovered the BPO industry and realized that their technology could be used to automate processes and hence built the first RPA product for a specific client. This product then became the foundation of our offering. Then, in 2017 having attracted serious financing through a series A funding, we were able to truly scale on a global basis and things started to accelerate from there: becoming a ‘unicorn’ in 2018, being declared a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Robotic Process Automation (RPA) by Gartner in 2019 and a Leader in the Forrester Wave for RPA in 2020, all of which contributed to our further success up to now.

 

What advice do you give to Romanian entrepreneurs who want to expand on international markets? What can the Romanian government do in order to support local businesses?

Our beginnings guided us to find the most important value for us: humility. Humility is an aspiration, and it is our operational framework. When you put humility at the core of your decision-making and communication process, it forces you to listen and adapt quickly. Being customer-centric is a natural progression. And customer-centricity keeps our humility in check and our work environment healthy. However, being humble does not mean not being bold, ambitious, and dreaming big. Many entrepreneurs originating from smaller markets such as Romania do not dare to think big. It is like a muscle that needs to be exercised. So, finding the right balance between humility and boldness would probably be the key advice I would like to offer to our fellow Romanian entrepreneurs.

Tech is a very innovative sector and it is often perceived as being able to succeed with little governmental help. But this is not really true. Silicon Valley came to being thanks to a lot of help from the US federal government funding at first. So, governments in general have a crucial role to play to create favorable conditions for entrepreneurship and innovation. For instance, the IT sector in Romania has boomed thanks to the right fiscal incentive. While I have no specific advice to give to the Romanian government per se, I would say continuing to create the right environment in fiscal policy, training and business stability are all of course favorable things to do. And perhaps one last more practical wish would for the government to encourage procurement from European tech innovative companies.

 

The rise of UiPath comes amid growing investor interest in tech startups in a huge global marketplace. In your opinion, which are the sectors with the highest growth potential in the near future?

Well, If I had the answer to that question with certainty, I would be a very wealthy man! Joking aside, the market we operate in that I would define as “full automation” and that Gartner calls hyperautomation is actually the fastest growing enterprise software segment. It is part of a large trend whereby digitization is workflow oriented and co-produced between business users and IT, hence the popularity of all low code technologies. Of course, many sectors will be touched by AI but AI is so pervasive that I would hesitate to call it a sector, per se. Outside the enterprise software sector, I think that traditional industries that have been laggards in digitization offer the best prospect for disruption such as banks with the rise of Fintech or the insurance industry. Technological advances offer the opportunity to look at these markets with new lenses.

 

One of the topics intensely debated currently is related to the way we will carry out our activity in the new post-COVID reality, many arguing in favor of continuing the work from home. How do you evaluate this trend and what are the measures implemented by UiPath on this topic?

Right now, our focus is on serving our customers and making sure our employees are safe and able to do their best work from home. We’re closely following regional guidelines where our offices and workers are located around the world related to pandemic restrictions and we will evaluate returning to offices with various factors in mind. In my humble opinion, COVID has shown how many things can actually be done remotely but conversely the limitations of what can be done virtually. I think it can be seen as a great learning experience that will allow us to collectively make wiser decisions going forward combining the benefits of virtual as well as cherishing the non-virtual. So, we are definitely moving into a hybrid world and many things including work organization will be redefined and refined in the coming months.

 

How many employees do you currently have, what are the fields where you need to recruit, and how easy is for you to find people ready to join the UiPath family?

UiPath has more than 3,000 employees worldwide, and we are growing at a fast pace. Our careers page at UiPath.com lists all of our open roles, including many roles based in Bucharest from technical specialists to marketing, sales, and finance, among others. What’s exciting is that jobs in automation are among the fastest emerging careers worldwide, attracting many talented people. Having said that, we strive to attract the best talent possible at UiPath, which does not make the job of our recruiters easy. Being better known helps attract the best, but we are also continously increasingly raising the bar for ourselves.

 

How did the company’s business evolve in 2020/2021?

Operating a successful software enterprise in 2020 was no easy task, not only because the world experienced a crippling pandemic, but also because technology continued to move at lightning speed. We feel a deep sense of gratitude and astonishment for what our employees accomplished.

While trying to re-organize our company globally was challenging, COVID-19 also showed how useful our technology can be. Indeed, overnight organizations had to digitize new processes to be able to cope with a surge in demand. Be the hospitals that required to report test results daily, governments that needed to manage COVID supports decided overnights, or hospitality clients that needed to re-schedule their clients’ reservations. Our technology helped a lot and we as company mobilized our force in a pro-bono fashion on multiple occasions.

In Romania, after the onset of the COVID crisis, the Government of Romania issued a Government Emergency Ordinance instating unemployment benefits to support the citizens whose jobs and income had been affected by the state of emergency caused by the health crisis. As a result, UiPath offered pro bono support to public sector bodies leading the fight against the pandemic. As a result, the National Agency for Payments and Social Inspection (ANPIS) public sector institution automated the process for applying for income relief so people can more rapidly receive the financial support they need. UiPath robots verify that applications are complete or contact the submitter if not and extract the relevant information into a database.

At the same time, we continued to innovate this past year. In 2020, we announced two major platform launches, which added capabilities across every stage of the automation lifecycle. In May 2021, we announced another platform launch with new features and products that extend capabilities for enterprises to successfully scale and manage their automation initiatives and acquired an API management company to enrich our offering.

Today, UiPath is the only end-to-end automation platform on the market. For instance, we are the only company that is simultaneously, according to leading analyst, a leader on RPA and process mining. This is uniquely valuable to our clients.

 

Returning to Romania, more and more companies are announcing investments in digitization and process automation. Where is the Romanian market currently located in the UiPath ecosystem and what are the local development plans?

As you may guess Romania has a special place within UiPath. It is our country of origin and the cradle of our company culture. It is also our largest R&D center, the location of the UiPath Immersion Lab as well as the home of many talents and knowledge that we continue to share with our colleagues around the world. From a commercial standpoint, the Romanian market importance is proportionate to its size, and perhaps even more penetrated that similar markets of its size. It is also important to note that we have several Romanian enterprises such as Banca Transilvania that have trusted us early-on and remain strong users of our product. Beyond the private sector, we are really hoping to see serious traction in the public sector in Romania as RPA is a technology particularly well fitted for this sector as our success in the US market shows.


Interview by Ioan Dornescu