On the lighter side of things, we ask Ravi Rajendran, Vice President Asia Pacific at Cohesity, what makes him tick.
What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?
Definitively, landing what’s proven to be a wonderful opportunity to manage the Asia-Pacific region for Cohesity, during a period of hyper-growth for our business, is definitely a highlight. I joined Cohesity in August 2020, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, seeing and leading the regional business’s expansion during that uncertain time (which is continuing) feels like a real achievement. I’m incredibly proud of the contribution the Asia-Pacific team has made to the company’s success.
What first made you think of a career in technology?
It was a natural choice. I studied electrical and electronic engineering at university and specialized in computer engineering in my final year. When I left university and started working, I quickly came to the realization that I was never cut out to be in the office from 8am to 6pm everyday – I’m too much of an extrovert! Naturally, I am a ‘people person’, and love to engage human to human. So while I decided to pursue a career in technology, I chose to move into sales and sales leadership, rather than engineering exclusively. This was definitely the right call for me and I have no regrets.
What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?
My management style is built on teamwork, which is more than just a phrase, in fact the maxim I always use with my team is ‘the competition is out there, not in here!’. I’m collaborative and inclusive, and I relish diversity of both thoughts and ideas – they’re crucial to growth. Having an incredibly solid team is the way to get results and I subscribe to the philosophy that you should always look to hire someone who’s better than you. That’s the best way to ensure collective and continuing success.
What do you think is the current hot technology talking point?
Naturally, data management is hugely topical given the ever-increasing nature of the connected world we live in, and the data being produced by anything with a processor inside it. At an organizational level, next-gen data management is the latest evolution of how at scale companies approach managing data within their IT systems and business environments. I don’t just say this because I work for Cohesity, but because data is the lifeblood of most organizations today. Having the right technology to manage and leverage data is becoming even more critical. The ‘hottest’ topic within data management is cybersecurity and the challenge of combatting ransomware. No organization is spared, large or small, and that’s made it an extremely hot topic with executives across all industries.
How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?
I breathe, breathing is essential! It’s mostly the simple stuff that helps me unwind – I like to go to the gym or get outside and walk around the area where I live. Being with my family is my priority when I’m not working. Since the start of COVID, my days are often back-to-back with meetings and video-calls, which is why carving family time has become more important than ever. I have three wonderful kids, aged 18, 21 and 24. Two of them are studying in the United Kingdom at the moment, and I’m really look forward to them coming back for the holidays where we can chill out, watch TV, go shopping, have great dinners (in or at our favorite restaurants), and just be together.
If you could go back and change one career decision, what would it be?
With respect to the different career choices I’ve made, there’s nothing at all I’d go back and change. I’ve really enjoyed every role and challenge that I’ve undertaken; helping to grow the respective companies and regions that I have been fortunate to be a part of, and progressing professionally and personally. Once I decided to switch from engineering to sales, I had quite a clear idea of where my career was heading and I’m big believer that if you work hard, luck happens.
What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?
Data management, cloud and Anything-As-a-Service are all seeing increasing investment from companies looking to take their technology infrastructure, systems, solutions and processes to the next level. The other major area of investment is in people. Organizations, both vendors and customers, are having to put a big effort into finding and keeping talented employees and developing their skills. The pandemic has accelerated Digital Transformation and having good people with the right experience and knowledge is critical for future success.
What are the region specific challenges when implementing new technologies in APAC?
Adoption maturity is notably different in the across the various countries within the APAC region. So are the skill levels of partners and users. The quality of the infrastructure and connectivity also varies wildly among nations. Plus, there are all the different languages and cultures, which must be factored in. What all these considerations mean is that you can’t take a generic approach if you hope to win mind and market share. As a vendor, we need to customize ourselves, so that we can go out and address customer challenges in each market, and be relevant to each organization, in a way that makes sense for that specific company. We need to understand what stage of Digital Transformation or adoption they’re at and the challenges they face, both internally and externally, before we can start to offer solutions.
What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?
Prior to COVID, I spent 25 years traveling throughout the APAC region, often for three weeks per month. For the past 18 months, I’ve been stationed in Singapore where I am based, working mostly from home. The lack of in-person face-to-face contact has taken some getting used to, especially given my area of responsibility. I’ve really missed face-to-face interactions because I love getting out there and meeting people – customers, partners, friends, even our competition!
However, one of the pros of being grounded has been that I’ve been able to cover six countries in one day, which is an impossibility if you’re traveling there in real life compared to virtually. The cons include the fact remote working has meant back-to-back Zoom meetings and phone calls every day, where you find yourself often glued to the desk.
Another change I’ve seen in the past year has been significant growth in the size of my team. Despite the pandemic, we’ve been growing at a healthy clip in APAC and headcount has grown substantially. That trajectory may continue over the next year or two because we’re seeing a lot of interest and an increasing customer appetite in the market. Being in a situation where the team can continue to grow and grow – because we are continuing to expand our business and customer footprint – would be fantastic.
What advice would you offer to someone aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?
Focus and passion are both essential; one without the other doesn’t make sense. You need to love what you do – if you stop loving it, then there’s probably going to be a problem. The other thing I strongly believe is that you must stay close to the ground and your team, they’re always going to be your biggest asset. Look after your people and the outcomes you’re seeking will happen. Lastly, don’t lose your credibility, it’s impossible to replace. Be honest and humble, act with integrity, stay true to yourself, and those around you, to build relationships that will endure.Click below to share this article