Kiran Kachela is the director and founder of CI Projects. After starting her career as a Helpdesk Operator within Facilities Management, Kiran went on to work her way up and found her passion for improvement and relationship building. Kiran started her own business, CI Projects in 2012 and since then has successfully helped a number of organisations achieve improved customer experience and efficiency. The team at CI Projects has grown to a fantastic team of 10, and continues to grow stronger each year. In this article, we get a glimpse of the life and mind of the woman behind CI Projects and find out what it takes to run a successful, growing business.
Tell us how your career in business improvement began, what was the inspiration?
It began as a Helpdesk Operator taking calls about blocked toilets and broken ceiling tiles. Whilst in this role, I was always looking for ways to do things better and was motivated by two things: to deliver service-excellence to my customers and to strive for the best performance. My Director at the time saw something in me that I didn’t recognise in myself – my knack for improvement and relationship building. I was quickly promoted to a Helpdesk Supervisor position and was later offered a business improvement role.
Whilst in my new business improvement role, the goal of my first project was to minimise the carbon footprint of the engineering workforce across the Metropolitan Police Estate. This wasn’t an easy task, but I loved the challenge! I relocated the Engineers’ work base according to where they lived to reduce their travel time and carbon footprint, along with a number of other initiatives. One successful project led to another and soon after, I became the Head of Business Improvement and led large-scale, company-wide change projects.
My inspiration? Many things in my life journey have inspired me and led me to where I am today. My parents who have always been hard working and resourceful; my part-time job at McDonalds as a teenager, where I got to experience and practice Lean every day with Just-In-Time operation, and the amazing people I’ve been lucky to meet or work with throughout my career.
What is the best thing about your role as Director of CI Projects?
It has to be the people. I get to work with incredible people across a variety of industries, disciplines and roles. They all come from different backgrounds, possess different skills and expertise, and have unique experiences to share. “Everyone you know knows something you don’t” – that’s a mantra I live by. I love learning from the people I meet. I also really enjoy sharing my knowledge and mentoring those I work with, it’s my favourite part of my job. Being able to help people develop and progress in their careers makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I relish the opportunity to take people outside of their comfort zone and encourage them to build on their strengths and weaknesses.
COVID -19 changed the world in many ways, what business lessons have you learnt as a result of the pandemic?
I always knew how important it was to keep moving forward and to never stand still, but I think COVID-19 has accentuated this notion for me. The need to be agile and flexible has never been clearer, as you don’t always know what’s around the corner. I had to overcome sudden turbulence in 2018 when Carillion collapsed; reviving the company took courage to extinguish fears and resilience to keep going. The pandemic brought back that feeling of uncertainty, not just for me, but for businesses across the globe. It has taught the world that we can’t take things for granted and that we must always be prepared to change. Having flexible structures, processes and systems that can adapt with changes in the business environment is key to survival.
I am proud to say that we (CI Projects) didn’t stand still in 2020. We used the quieter periods to work on developing new short-term service packages, offering our customers a more flexible solution to solving business challenges as an alternative to the traditional consultancy model.
If you could have an alternative career, what would it be and why?
I’d love to combine my passion for culinary arts and travel by becoming a travel food blogger or host a televised food-centric travel show. I’ve watched every episode of the Netflix series ‘Somebody Feed Phil’ by Phil Rosenthal and I think he has the greatest job!
Most business owners never switch off from work, what do you do to relax when you are not working?
I am one of those people who struggles to switch off from work – it’s the psychological price of running your own business. So, after a long day at work (or on video calls which is the ‘new norm’), I like to unwind by getting my apron on and experimenting with ingredients. I enjoy cooking and baking all sorts of foods and cuisines, particularly as I have a family of foodies who are happy to be my guinea pigs!
Do you have a personal motto, mantra or strong belief?
My personal mantra is: ‘what you can achieve is limitless’. There are limitless opportunities if you embrace them courageously and keep an open mind. You have to be bold and unafraid to break boundaries. We have limitless potential if we believe in ourselves.
Describe what CI Projects embodies in 3 words/ phrases?
Leading with truth
Working with ‘heart’
We hope you have enjoyed finding out a bit more about Kiran in this interview. If you would like to find out more about our team, please head to our Meet The Team page on our website.