Asanga Wanigatunga is the Regional Vice President, ANZ at Snyk, a developer-first Security platform designed to help software-driven businesses enhance developer security.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve had an interesting career to date – my experience in the technology sector has spanned multiple roles, which has helped me build out a wide ranging skill set.
I believe this has better prepared me to lead, as I’ve been given a better perspective of how all the functions in an organisation are stitched together.
My first job in the technology vendor space was pre-sales engineering for a company called Altiris which was acquired by Symantec at the time.
I then moved to VMware during their 2.0 growth phase as a lead pre-sales engineer for the End User computing (EUC) business and ended up moving to product marketing to lead the EUC GTM function for the Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) business.
My last role at VMware was building out the End User Computing Cloud business across APJ which really opened my eyes to international business in culturally diverse markets.
I moved from VMware to join Veeam as the VP for Cloud and Service Provider business for APJ where I spent 3.5 years building out the business and teams across the region. I am currently the Regional Vice-President for ANZ, Snyk, based in Sydney. I lead business in the region and am responsible for growing Snyk’s business, including establishing key routes to market.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My day usually starts at 6:30am with a coffee, checking my Slack, WhatsApp and emails and trying to quickly respond to things that need urgent attention. Before I leave the house I tend to read the SMH and the AFR headlines.
At least three days of the week I drop the kids to school and try to get into the office by 9-9:30am. I am currently in a routine of getting to the office two to three times a week on average. This balances out well, as it means I can usually work from home about two days a week, which provides a quiet space without distractions to work on more complex items.
With my team spread out across Australia and New Zealand, I try to carve out part of my day to speak to some of them on the mobile and check in impromptu. The other part of the day is focused on customer and partner meetings.
I like to fit in as much customer face-time as I can in a week, so I can closely understand their challenges and the context in which we can help them, as well as other business challenges they are encountering in the market.
Some weeknights (after the kids go to sleep) I have calls with my EMEA and US teams, leveraging a wider global team around the clock to help with some of the market problems we are trying to solve quickly.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, at Snyk we are focused on creating a flexible, inclusive environment. The majority of the team is based in Sydney, but we have team members working from across the country and overseas. Everyone has been working from home for most of this year.
Our team has autonomy to manage their own time and conduct work around the demands of their personal lives, including appointments, home schooling, or even exercise. This has been very useful, particularly during New South Wales’ extended lockdown, where my family would try to have lunch at the same time whilst at home.
Even post-lockdown, when the kids have a lot of afternoon activities I am able to leave work a bit early and refocus on work after dinner or take late calls with my global teams during their time zones.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I find the definition of work-life balance means different things to different people. It’s something that I try not to quantify based on time spent on each aspect of my life.
For me, balance is about spending quality time with my family when I am with them and providing my undivided attention and presence to helping my team solve problems during work hours.
I found this was a lot more challenging to achieve when working from home for all five days of the week during the lockdown phases as there was no real transition between work and home life, which in the past, would have been the commute between the office and home.
To rebalance this, I have focused more on physical fitness and mental health in the past 18 months. I find that if I can maintain this in my routine, the balance of being present across all aspects of my life comes naturally.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Travel has stopped for me in the last 12 months. Prior to this, I would average about 70-80 flights per year, so it was an interesting experience to go ‘cold turkey’ on this front. The upside is that I’ve gained a lot of time back in my week which I have now been able to spend with my family.
I have gotten much better at embedding my exercise routines into my working week schedule and have stopped making excuses. If I am working at home and have a 30 minute window in between calls, I won’t hesitate to squeeze in a high intensity run around the neighbourhood.
Similarly, I have even managed to start a regular routine of fitting in nine holes of golf before work every Friday (weather permitting) and making it to gym sessions in between office meetings.
All of this has helped to energise my brain and think sharper. I have been more productive on the work front, and in turn I am thinking a lot less about work during my personal time.
Another thing which had fallen off for me in the last 12 months was time spent with friends. Pre-COVID I tended to catch-up with friends in the city for a meal or a drink after work, or even visit them in different cities when I was travelling for business.
I had to make a concerted effort to pick up the phone and call them more often. Now, with the social arena opening up more and borders as well, I am sure I will be making up for lost time on that front.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
In the last five years I have found myself reading fewer books but have pivoted to reading online publications and articles. The two main publications I read every day are The Australian Financial Review and The Economist.
I’ve also found in the last three years that I am listening to a lot more podcasts, especially whilst exercising or commuting to the office in the car. On the technology/VC front, I regularly listen to the ‘All-In’ podcast, which I highly recommend. On the work front I listen to the ‘Secure Developer’, which is hosted by our co-founder Guy Podjarny.
I like to track the equities markets and Australian property market closely, so on the investment side I listen to ‘Equity Mate’ and ‘Property Investments’, which are hosted by Michael Yardney.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without
WhatsApp and Slack – they are the main streams of communication for my professional and personal lives
The fitness tracking app on my Apple Watch
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I don’t have any person per say that I am tracking, but anyone I can learn new things from I am open to reading about.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think finding the right balance of work and life is really a personal decision and judgement. The more senior you become in your career, the harder it gets to balance those increasing responsibilities with your personal life.
This is further amplified as your family grows too, as you need to factor in additional time spent with your children and significant other whilst still making time for extended family and friends. I have found that meeting my definition of ‘balance’ with 100% success is hard.
I now do my best and try to constantly improve inch by inch. I believe that life is usually as complicated as you make it, so keeping it simple works for me.
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