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    Vivek Iyer Interview: Placing Customer Empathy at the Heart of Product Design

    May 20, 2022

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    Vivek Iyer Interview

    “I believe that no matter which company you work for, customer empathy is a critical element for success,” said Vivek Iyer, VP of Product at Darwinbox, when we sat down to discuss his core focus areas in the organization and learn more about his experiences through the years in building great products and product teams.

    Vivek is an integral part of the Darwinbox product development team, spearheading the company's goal of becoming the undisputed leader in the Human Capital Management (HCM) space. Vivek has an MBA from IIM, Calcutta, and is an alumnus of Anna University, Chennai. Prior to Darwinbox, Vivek had an 18-year stint in software engineering with leading multinationals. He has worked across the entire spectrum of product management. Most recently, he worked at Salesforce where he built integrations between Salesforce Industry products and marketing lifecycle systems. He has also worked on mobile application development, marketing automation, CRM, enterprise middleware, API management, SaaS, and a wide variety of spheres in the enterprise software space both in India and in the United States.

    In this candid interview, Vivek talks to us about Darwinbox’s product roadmap and shares some valuable insights and learnings from his previous experiences in this space.

    Darwinbox: To begin with, if you could take us through the product roadmap for Darwinbox? What’s in store?

    Vivek: Darwinbox is on the cusp of something very exciting. We are looking to redefine the essential tenets of employee experience. We want to build an extensible HR platform that provides data, analytics and insights at the click of a mouse. We are rapidly looking to expand and move into global frontiers and our product is transforming at great velocity. Our next-generation talent framework will enable organizations to scale and manage their talent in a data-driven and cohesive manner. These are just a few things that we are doing to take our customer success quotient to the next level.

    Darwinbox: Employee Experience (EX) has taken center stage, especially in the Hybrid work setup, what are some of the product innovations we can expect in the coming days that enhance EX for our customers?

    Vivek: We take Employee Experience very seriously and it is incredibly strategic for us. We are enhancing our feature set to drive analytics, notifications, interactions, and surveys that augment the employee experience exponentially. We are looking to derive this from our end-to-end workflow-driven platform. Our presence in the ‘hire to retire’ lifecycle enables us to assess employee experience in a fundamental way and then take subsequent steps and actions based on that. This is a big focus area for Darwinbox and we are looking to exponentially enhance our value proposition in this area.

    Darwinbox: In your previous avatar at Salesforce, you have maximized value for hundreds of customers; take us through some of the areas you would be focusing on here for customer success.

    Vivek: If you are not in the shoes of a customer as a product manager, then you are leaving something very important out. Maximizing customer empathy is a big area of focus for us. We operate in a diverse, dynamic, and competitive market, so staying ahead of the competition is top of mind. I would also say that as an organization scales it needs to be organized and be very clear about what it does and does not want to do. In my experience, these pillars of thought enable broader value to the customer and enhance the broader value proposition for a company like Darwinbox.

    Darwinbox: Given your wide spectrum of experience with multinationals, what are some of the learnings that have shaped you as a leader in this space?

    Vivek: I would say – being focused, results-oriented, having a strong degree of customer empathy, and being data-driven have helped me immensely. I would say being organized about what you want to focus on as a team is also very important in leading and providing broader direction to your teams.

    Darwinbox: What is your leadership style?

    Vivek: I like to lead by example. I believe in understanding the details and like to be informed about topics when making decisions. I like to empower teams to be self-reliant and try my best to make myself redundant in the decision-making matrix.

    Darwinbox: What energizes you on a day-to-day basis?

    Vivek: Ideas, data and new ways to enhance employee experience within an organization are front and center. I also love to engage with customers and genuinely learn from them and try to keep learning new things daily. I strongly believe in maintaining a curious attitude and I believe that learning new things is the best source of energy required to motivate a person.

    Darwinbox: What is the one quality that all product managers must possess?

    Vivek: I will cheat and say that there are two – customer empathy and attention to detail. Both are critical traits because understanding what the customer wants is critical, but it should be understood in a level of detail that is broadly meaningful.

    Darwinbox: What is your big dream for Darwinbox?

    Vivek: I believe Darwinbox can challenge the established notions of thinking in the HRMS SaaS space, given the intense focus I see here on the employee experience and the overall ‘hire to retire’ lifecycle. Darwinbox is genuinely placed to make thousands of organizations much more productive in the next few years.

    Read other stories from the Leadership Series here: Darwinbox Blog - Leadership Interview Series

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