OakNorth names ex-Google exec as CEO

Sunil Chandra

On the heels of an international expansion push, digital bank OakNorth‘s platform-as-a-service business has named a new CEO.

Sunil Chandra, who was appointed this week, most recently served as vice president responsible for global talent acquisition at Google. The hire comes at a “critical stage” in the company’s growth journey as it extends its reach to clients in the U.S. and Europe, according to the company. Co-founder Rishi Khosla will remain on OakNorth’s board.

Chandra told Bank Innovation that OakNorth is uniquely positioned for strong growth in its efforts to lend to an expansive market of small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). The company, which has a U.K. banking license and lends through its U.K. entity, also licenses its technology platform to banks and lending institutions.

“If you look at the SME market, it’s a massive space,” Chandra said. “There’s credit in the SME market of $7 trillion globally.”

See Also: Aligning with ‘leaders’: OakNorth’s Nooriala on its partnership strategy

Chandra pointed to the diversity of industries from which the OakNorth team is drawn, highlighting some key approaches he learned from big tech. “A lot of those principles are customer centricity, an engineering and product culture and agile [strategies],” he said. “They’re very applicable across industries.”

Under Chandra’s leadership, OakNorth will seek to grow its engineering team, a group that’s doubled over the last three months. “A lot of the thesis at Google was how do you acquire talent, particularly engineering talent, which is incredibly hard to find at scale,” he said. Doubling the size of the engineering team yet again in the coming three months is part of the company’s forward plans, he noted.

Prior to Google, Chandra was chief operating officer at Barclays Capital, director of administration at McKinsey and a consultant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. OakNorth, which is worth $2.8 billion, has so far has raised $848 million in primary funding since its creation, including $440 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund and the Clermont Group in February.