Business In:Brief with Vijay Shankar (Freshworks)
Co-founder of Freshworks 2011-present
Vijay Shankar is the co-founder and director of solutions engineering at Freshworks. Freshworks is a business software provider that works with over 150,000 companies worldwide. It aims to provide easy-to-use manageable software solutions and world-class support.
Vijay recently moved from Chennai to lead the local Sales Engineering and Onboarding teams at the customer engagement software company. Prior to this move, Vijay built sales engineering teams for Freshworks across the US, Europe and India. He is aiming to bring this expertise to Australia and help the Freshworks team in Australia better deliver to the needs of end customers in the market.
What's your proudest achievement?
As one of the founding members of Freshworks, I'm pretty proud to have built sales engineering teams for the business across the US, Europe and India, especially as I see a huge opportunity in this side of the organisation. This has often involved moving to a new region, learning about the market and building teams from scratch – hard work but totally worth it.
What's something that you have learned in business that took you by surprise?
If your product or business solves a problem and fits a use, customers will buy or subscribe, no matter what.
How do you plan on growing your business in the near future?
Going forward, my aim is to scale the Australian Sales Engineering and Onboarding team as we continue to invest in new AI features and offer a more seamless experience for customers through our Customer-for-Life Cloud. I'm focusing on the huge potential within the engineering side of the business and as part of this, I'm ensuring we've got lots of talent in this area including interns and college graduates who can bring a new perspective and fresh ideas.
What other business leader do you most admire and why?
There's not just one. I love Elon Musk, Marc Benioff, Peter Thiel and Girish, our CEO, of course. All of them are industry leaders and bring out the best in their teams, focusing heavily on people and values.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
Never focus on yourself, focus on the people who work with you and your team. Your team matters the most because no one ever achieved anything alone. It's always a collective effort, so ensure you're pushing your team members to continue moving up and working to support each other.
Ensure you have a shared business vision and overarching mission so everyone is working towards the same goal. Always be truthful and honest with your team. If things aren't going well, make sure you're transparent. You never know – often, the best ideas come from the most remote corners.
What advice would you pass onto someone starting out in your area?
Keep learning. There is no substitute for continual education and hard work. You need to keep training and failure is often a part of this process. The most important thing is to learn from failure and continue to improve yourself. The ego can be a killer so ensure you remain humble. Find a great mentor who can guide you and learn from their ups and downs.
Business In:Brief is a regular interview feature that profiles a notable business leader each month. It is also included as part of our business newsletter, which you can sign up for below.