Typical 24: Anukool Lakhina, Founder & Executive Vice President, Strategy, Guavus

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…

IDG Connect is looking to speak to IT, business and marketing professionals across the spectrum to discover more about their very different, typical working days…

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Anukool Lakhina

  Job title: Founder & Executive Vice President, Strategy

  Company: Guavus

  Location: San Mateo, California

  Years’ experience: More than a decade of experience


1.    What time do you reach the office each day?
I don’t have a formal time by which I try to make it to the office. Guavus is a global company with customers, employees and offices around the world, so my day has to run 24/7.

2.    Is your job varied?
As the founder of Guavus, I truly care about every aspect of the business—from working with customers to helping them understand their problems, driving the strategic direction of the company and helping to manage fundraising. I also work with our Application Solutions Group to deliver use case-led solutions. As a founder, my job description isn’t necessarily set, and I adjust my priorities as needed.   

3.    Is your job creative?
My job isn’t creative in a traditional sense. I do consider it to be creative in the sense that I can look at data and see things other people can’t. I help companies analyze data, and use it to address key business problems and grow revenue.

4.    What do you spend the majority of your time doing?
I spend a lot of time meeting with customers to better understand their business problems and strategizing how we can turn those business problems into data problems that can be solved with analytics. I firmly believe that most of today’s business problems can be solved through the strategic use of data, which is why I spend the majority of my time making sure Guavus can help companies by developing specific solutions that unlock the value of our customers’ data and realize its real business benefits. For example, I’ve helped mobile operators understand why some mobile devices won’t work on certain networks, and how to recoup costs from subscribers who are roaming on other networks.  

5.    Do you personalise your desk?
Yes, I do like to personalize my desk. Although Guavus was my first baby, I had my first “biological” child last year and have her pictures proudly displayed. Both are demanding, energizing and more fun than I could have ever anticipated.

6.    Would you describe yourself as creative?
I think creativity is subjective and the way I express mine is through how I contribute to helping Guavus grow, as well as how I help Guavus’ customers solve their problems. My love for data started many, many years ago before Data Scientists were considered cool. Out of the need for a more data-driven business model, I was able to create a company that, nine years later, works with the top mobile and cable providers in the world.

7.    Do you have any quirky daily rituals?
Recently, I’ve started having at least one walking meeting a day. I’m forcing myself to get out of the office and talk with colleagues rather than having standard meetings.

8.    Do you tend to work on your own or with colleagues?
Collaboration and communication are key at Guavus. Guavus provides services that help people understand and use their data to the company’s advantage—if I don’t take the time to collaborate with my colleagues and customers to align on what’s important, then the products won’t be successful. I also like to collaborate with my colleagues because I think it can inspire me to think beyond just my own opinions.

9.    How many hours on average do you work a day?
The amount of hours I work per day varies, and like most positions, some days are busier than others. I don’t like to keep myself constrained to ten hours per day, because it’s not always realistic. As I mentioned, I work across multiple time zones, so I have to be able to perform anytime. But, no matter how busy I am, I do always carve out time to take care of any personal matters and to take a walk to get out of the office. Our culture trusts that people are doing their job when and where they need to; it’s not always about face time.

10.    Roughly how much time do you spend each day on email? Taking calls? In meetings?
It’s really important that I work with my teams to constantly innovate and improve Guavus’ technology and deliver 110% to our customers, as the needs of our customers are our No. 1 priority. What this means is my responses to email, participation in meetings, and any calls I take are directly affected by the needs and responsibilities I must address for customers. Roughly, I end up 12-14 hours a day focused on customer calls and meetings.

11.    Do you use social media much for work?
Yes, I do use social media. As the founder of Guavus, I always want to keep up with colleagues and prospective talent. And of course, I do like to use social channels to keep up with my friends and co-workers globally. I especially take advantage of LinkedIn to keep up with my network.

12.   What do you enjoy most about your work?
Guavus is a passion of mine and there isn’t much I don’t like about it—minus sometimes having to figure out what time zone I’m in. Working for a truly global company in a hot market has many advantages, but more than anything—I love helping Guavus customers turn business problems into data solutions. I think helping Guavus customers realize the potential of their data is what I feel most excited about each day.

13.    What type of music (if any) do you listen to at work?
While I love music, I’m usually never sitting down long enough to get through a single song between meetings and travel.

14.    What do you do for lunch?
I try to get out of the office at lunch when I can. Usually that means grabbing a salad and having a walking meeting with a colleague. I make an effort to make sure I’m connected with my peers, as we are a cohesive company with a common vision to help our customers solve business problems and grow with big data analytics.

15.    Do you socialise with work colleagues?
The Guavus culture encourages socializing among colleagues, from working as a team to talking about your weekend plans. We spend a lot of time together, so it’s important to me that everyone has a relationship besides the usual “work stuff.”

16.    Are there any tasks (through your career) you’ve been especially glad to get rid of?
Expense reports are not my favorite thing to do—I’ll be happy to get rid of those any time.

17.    What is your last task of your day?
My last task is to read any unread emails and take a look at my calendar for the next day’s tasks to make sure I’m prepared.

18.    How do you like to relax after work?
As a new father, nothing allows me to unwind more than coming home and playing with my daughter.  From making her laugh to watching her sleep washes the stress away.

19.    Do you keep checking email through the evening?
Before I go to bed, I tend to check my email one last time. I want to make sure that I’ve addressed any customer or colleague who’s awaiting a response, as I am accountable for my actions and its impact on others.

20.    Do you take work projects home with you?
Because we have customers and operations all over the world, it requires me to be available at all hours of the day, so “work” isn’t necessarily confined to just an office. I spend time working at home as needed, but do think it’s important to keep a good work/life balance.

21.    What would you say to your 20-year old self?
First, I would tell myself to enjoy getting plenty of sleep. Between being a new dad and founding a successful start-up, sleep can be a luxury. Second, I would say that success does not come in the form of a straight line, but oftentimes comes after several mistakes and failures. You need to hold true to your conviction and realize that mistakes don’t equate to failures, but as opportunities to learn and improve as part of the overall journey toward success.

22.    If you could try out any job for a day, what would you choose?
I would love to be at stay-at-home dad for a day. Given my hectic travel schedule having an entire day to focus on my daughter, whether it’s playing at the park, reading books, or just being silly together sounds fantastic.

23.    What device did you use to answer these questions?
Macbook Air Pro.

24.    Do you use your own personal device for work?
Yes, I do use my personal devices at work. I want to be available to my family and colleagues at all times, so I think it’s necessary. In the era of consumerization of IT, it is more convenient for me to use my own personal device, as I am able to balance work and family time based on the merged calendar versus having the times totally separate on a work phone. 


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