Sreelesh Pillai is the General Manager of Freshworks Australia, a global leader in customer engagement software, and the company’s seventh overall employee.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I began my career 15 years ago in the telecom business of a fast-growing Fortune 500 company, in their Corporate Customer Service division.
I’ve been involved in the Services domain, handling technology, processes and people ever since. I moved to Australia five years ago, and am currently the General Manager of Freshworks Australia, where I oversee our local operations.
2) What does a typical day look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Although two days at Freshworks is never the same, a typical day would include the following:
- It starts with taking a look at the day’s calendar then building out a list covering my must-dos
- In between ticking off the list, there are impromptu events like yesterday’s lunch with a customer who was meeting one of our sales managers
- Zoom meetings are plenty and are such a life-saver. Such technology allows us to nurture relationships with the global team and give us the flexibility of talking to anyone, anywhere
- Sometimes, I’ll try and squeeze in a game on the arcade machines at our WeWork office
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My team sit away from the Engineering and Product Management department so we find each others presence in the office keeps us on top of our product, process and operational knowledge.
We try to spend the majority of our time in the office but we definitely encourage flexibility to boost productivity and will always allow for personal preferences.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
It’s all about having the right team. Spend as much time as you can in hiring the right people and once they’re on board, spend time helping them to succeed individually and as part of a unified team.
If you can nail this, you’ll find delegating with confidence a lot easier and you’ll be able to focus on the business areas that take the team to another level of growth and operation without feeling bogged down.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
At Freshworks we like to see it as work-life integration, and I very much agree. Speaking to a friend or relative while at work or taking a customer call late in the evening happens and that’s the nature of the world we now live in.
Work-life integration is about being as passionate about work as the other activities you enjoy in life and not seeing these as different worlds that need to be balanced.
Work-life integration is easier achieved when one hires passionate individuals in their respective fields while having a shared, inspirational mission as a team.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
It’s not necessarily a habit but after every deliverable, I consider how we can do even better next time as there is always room for improvement.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I love reading autobiographies. The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch had a very intense effect on me. Enjoying life to the fullest, in the present, is a simple yet very powerful reminder that we can all live each day as it comes.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
My morning to-do list.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’ve spent the majority of my career working in customer engagement and it may be a cliche but the customer has to be number one. Ensure you know your customer, their business profile, journey and pain points really, really well.
When you know your customer, you’ll know how to delight them and this is the key to securing the type of long term customer partnerships that you can build a business upon.
And in the same context, your ‘customer’ can be a team member, a boss, a partner, a neighbor or even a family member. When one seeks to know and delight, one enjoys the journey to the fullest without needing to find a ‘balance’.
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