Name: Aashu Virmani
Organisation: Fuzzy Logix
Job title: CMO
Location: Andover, MA
1. Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in a town of Bareilly, in northern India.
2. What was your first job?
My first real job was a software engineer at Bell Labs, NJ. It was thrilling to work there – you were always in the company of some very distinguished, very accomplished people. Nothing taught you humility quite like that.
3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
While at Bell Labs, we built a software only telephony switch, that would replace the legacy 4E and 5E switches deployed at telcos all over the world. It was the early days of VoIP then, but I knew this would change the face of telephony and human communication. A lot of multi-media communication that is possible today is because the fundamental pipe between two users has become an IP pipe.
4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
That credit unequivocally goes to Sonia - my wife of 20 years. She has been an instigator, a co-conspirator, and a supporter through thick and thin. She has always pushed me to be a better version of myself.
5. What has been your greatest achievement?
It would have to be the first acquisition I did while leading product strategy at Sonus – a company called NET. Even though the overall amount was small - in the $50m range - it was a good outcome for both companies, both from a human capital and a product perspective. I’ve done larger deals since then, but living through the due diligence, and subsequent integration process for the first time was a very rewarding and educational experience for me.
6. What has been your biggest mistake?
This has happened more than once: Not calling it quits early enough when I can see the writing on the wall. I’ve stuck around at workplaces that have taken a turn for the worse: the environment, the probability of success, and the general morale. I don’t know what it is - a sense of ownership, a sense of responsibility or just plain inertia - I would have been better off making some moves in my career months earlier than I actually did. Hopefully I’m smarter now – we shall see.
7. What is your greatest strength?
I care about the people around me and make an active effort to grow them. For this reason, many have stuck with me from job to job, so I find it easy to ramp up a team of smart people wherever I go.
8. What is your biggest weakness?
My tenacity! I find it hard to give up. Sometimes it is more efficient to just cut one’s losses and try afresh. I’m learning to get better at it.
9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Educating others of the relevance of a marketer’s role – especially in high tech where it is often an afterthought :-)
10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My mantra: Two smart people will always find common ground and make progress. What makes me squirm are the nay-sayers, the negative thinkers, who will imagine every possible reason why something won’t work.
11. What makes you stressed?
Being late for anything.
12. What do you do to relax?
Golf or Photography – two great reason to be outdoors!
13. What is your favourite song?
Hotel California, by the Eagles – I’ve come to realize there are so many levels to it.
14. Which book taught you most?
The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson. I often use it to reframe my team’s way of thinking now.
15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I’ll watch whatever sport is on, but golf, soccer and cricket are among my favorites.
16. Which country would you like to work in?
I like working in the USA.
17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Apple. Have you checked the margins they make on hardware, while the rest of the device makers keep getting clobbered?
18. What do you love most about your job?
Learning something new every day – the state of the art changes so fast!
19. What is your favourite book?
The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. I just love the message in that book. Simple, but powerful. Not surprising that it has been translated into 50+ languages.
20. What keeps you awake at night?
I’m a rather sound sleeper; I enjoy sleeping! Very little can keep me up :-)
Phil Muncaster reports on China and beyond