Coming full circle with Kiranjeet Purba
Kiranjeet (Kiran) Purba has led an interesting life. Born in Malaysia, at just 18 he moved to Melbourne, on his own to complete his final year of high school, before eventually heading back to Kuala Lumpur to complete a business degree with RMIT. Years later, after living and working in several countries, Kiran has returned to Melbourne to lead Marketplace Quality for UberEATS in Australia and New Zealand.
Kiran's story is not an unfamiliar one. Like many young adults, in his final year of high school, he found himself questioning the path laid out for him. Studying within a science and engineering stream he quickly realised that it wasn't a field he was truly interested in so after finishing year 12, he made that hard decision to move back home and take the time to really think about what he wanted. "I took a step back and went through that whole process of asking 'Who am I?' and 'What do I want to do?' ... that kind of defining moment," explains Kiran.
Over the next two years Kiran underwent a time of transition and self-discovery before enrolling offshore at RMIT in Malaysia to study a Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance). After graduating in 2010, Kiran found himself drawn back to Melbourne to pursue a Master in Accounting and Financial Management.
It was during this time that Kiran truly began to hit his stride, working as a subject administrator for statistics in the university sector as well as operating as a logistics specialist for the Marriner Group, which runs four landmark heritage theatres (including the Forum), and a variety of function and events venues in Melbourne's CBD.
After completing his postgraduate studies, Kiran felt like he was being offered better work opportunities in Southeast Asia - so he moved home again to start his first corporate position with Maybank and gained invaluable experience in management.
"When you're an executive assistant to the CEO of a large bank you manage their calendar, their meetings, their life essentially; so you get a very broad view of high level management," says Kiran. "It was good to come back ... and understand how the macroeconomic world worked."
During his time with Maybank Kiran worked in Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore, and it was while living in the latter that he first started regularly using Uber - and found himself instantly intrigued by the human element, and consumer benefit element, of the gig economy.
"I ended up writing a long email to Uber support [about the app]," says Kiran. "Little did I know that [at the time] every email was still being read by senior management ... and they replied saying that they were currently looking for a person to help launch Uber in Malaysia."
"At first I [wasn't interested] but I kept an open mind ... and I think that one thing is very important, and it's the thing that I really reinforce through all the mentoring I do, and that's that you should never give up an opportunity and you should always pursue ... new relationships and networking opportunities."
And so began his career with Uber and UberEATS, which has so far spanned nearly four years, but will no doubt span many more. Since first being employed by the start-up Kiran has worked for the company in Malaysia, Singapore, and as of late 2016, Melbourne.
As the Head of Marketplace Quality for UberEATS Kiran leads a team of 10 people who manage live operations throughout Australia and New Zealand and work towards improving the app on all fronts. Talking to him it's clear that he's enjoying himself and that he views his latest return to Melbourne as a "full circle" moment. "It's been a heck of a journey," says Kiran. "Working at Uber ... it's very fulfilling, very rewarding. It has kept me on my toes."
We recently went down to UberEATS HQ in Cremorne to chat to Kiran about his fantastic accomplishments and ask his advice to anyone just starting out.