Over the past two decades, William Foo has worked between Europe and Asia across various industries and leadership roles. Since 2017, William has been an instrumental figure behind the transformation of Everise from a pure-play BPO into a next-generation omnichannel customer experience company. Serving as Global CFO, William has managed the full spectrum of finance and merger acquisition activities for Everise in a journey that has included the sale of Everise to Brookfield Business Partners in January 2021.
William, a Chartered Accountant of Singapore, began his career learning the fundamentals of auditing with Deloitte. These first seven years of his career grounded William with a structure, discipline, and technical knowledge that would serve him well in the future. William’s skills were further fine-honed after joining Keppel Corporation, a prominent Singaporean conglomerate consisting of several affiliated businesses specializing in offshore and marine, property, infrastructure, and asset management businesses. Keppel selected William for a high-profile overseas posting, where he led the Finance team of a pan-European group headquartered in Belgium. William thrived in a culturally diverse environment where his strengths in remote team management and business stakeholder management were critical to success.
William entered the world of private equity and his first global CFO role at Knowledge Universe, one of the world’s largest for-profit education groups at the time. The sale of Knowledge Universe for a good investment return was an opportunity for William to plan his next steps, and he seized the opportunity to join Everise.
The importance of mentoring
When William met Everise CEO and founder Sudhir Agarwal and other senior leaders of the company, he was drawn to the team’s energy and ambition to stand out in the industry by building an inclusive culture that would unlock the team’s potential and become a decisive business advantage.
Just as crucial for William was the opportunity to contribute to positive workplace culture. “I see my role here in two parts,” explains William. “Firstly, I am passionate about serving as an executive anchor or sponsor of policies that help everyone here bring their best self to work regardless of background or gender.”
“Secondly,” continued William, “I feel that I have an important role as a leader to mentor the women in my team to give them every opportunity to grow, thrive, and become role models to women not just in Everise, but across the broader community too. I meet many women who are more than qualified and capable of thriving as a CFO; however, perhaps lacking confidence because of social norms and expectations, they haven’t taken the final step. They would have been fantastic CFOs, and this is society’s loss. When we look around, we unfortunately see all-too-often the outcome when financial or leadership decisions are not inclusive, be it at a family level or a business level. I feel many nations could become a lot stronger with more women leading in their governance, too.”
Notes William, building a diverse team is a constant work in progress. “Putting a good team together is not a science but an art. While we don’t always achieve an optimal combination of skillsets right at the start, we make incremental improvements and progress towards the right mix. I think that an ability to work in a team environment, and a willingness to make compromises for the team’s benefit, are critical attributes in new hires.”
The business edge of diversity
For William, there is a tangible business advantage to a well-balanced and gender-diverse team. “I believe diverse teams create an “iron sharpen iron” environment. The best teams enjoy diversity across gender, experience, and skills while remaining united by shared goals and a “team first” mentality. Having a diversified team also prevents Groupthink.”
Adds William, “I am very proud to work for a company where women hold 45% of our leadership positions, and we see the business impact of that diversity on a daily basis.”
The Everise focus on diversity has won industry awards and acclaim, and an industry leading Glassdoor.com rating, for these efforts that have helped the women of Everise flourish.
The Everise focus on diversity comes through clearly across many of 6,500 reviews on the Everise Glassdoor.com entry. Everise holds an average 97% approval rating for CEO Sudhir Agarwal, a 96% “Recommend to a Friend” score, and an overall rating of 4.7/5 stars. Similarly, on Indeed.com, over 6,200 reviews average a “Work Happiness” score of 80, a “Satisfaction” score of 84, and a total rating of 4.2/5 stars.
The greatest challenge facing diversity
“Sadly, I think the biggest diversity challenge is a prejudice about what diversity means and why it matters, particularly the idea that diversity is just something that “has to be done.” This attitude does a disservice for everyone in the workplace. To me, the benefits of diversity – from how it helps companies strategize through to how it empowers improved performance – are clear. I feel we can all do a better job at spotlighting these measurable and tangible benefits.”