The following is an interview done on the Anjali Sud, the CEO of Vimeo. This is what she had to say:
The Starting point
I think about being a woman, a mother, and a tech CEO in the enterprise software space. And, yeah, I do think I’m probably unique in that industry in terms of my background. But I do believe that different perspectives are good, and I think as long as we keep different perspectives at the table and keep an open dialogue and everyone is listening to each other and talking, we’re going to make great decisions. I’m excited to bring my perspective and my style to the industry.
So, I joined Vimeo about six years ago as a Director of Marketing and three years ago I was promoted to CEO to help pivot the platform from being a viewing destination that competed with YouTube to being a software platform for businesses. I definitely was younger, less experienced, and had a very different background than what’s traditional. I recognized that and tried to use it as an advantage. I really believe that the best decisions get made when you have different perspectives in the room.
So, the way I approached it was, every time I walked into a boardroom, I looked very different than everybody else around me. But I actually thought of it as that means that it’s incumbent upon me to be vocal because that’s the only way we will collectively make better decisions.
A Journey to Becoming a CEO
I had a very sort of maybe stereotypical kind of immigrant experience. I grew up in Flint, Michigan, in a very tight-knit community of other Indian families. My dad is a physician, but his true passion is entrepreneurship. He raised me to believe that the best way to impact your community is by creating jobs.
I think all of that created in me at a very young age a desire to be in business, to be a leader, to build things, and to have an impact on a community. If you’d asked little ambitious Anjali what she wanted to be, I would have said I wanted to be a CEO or a leader of a platform that I thought was affecting positive change. And it’s honestly amazing to me that I feel like I’m actually in that position now. I feel so privileged and fortunate, but I do feel in some ways like my parents’ American dream has kind of come true for me.
The balance between motherhood and leadership
Being a mother has made me both stronger and more empathetic. I look at each of my colleagues and it’s like I didn’t appreciate what was happening in their personal lives and how hard it can be. There were so many things about the way that we work in the past that were so insensitive to working parents that I never appreciated. I mean, I was the one before I had a kid who was like, “Why aren’t we doing the six o’clock call?” without realizing that’s the window for a lot of people to see their kids.
So I think it’s been an incredible experience, and I’m a very proud mother. But I also just think it’s a challenging one. And if you can survive it, it makes you stronger. I do think it’s the job of folks like me and other leaders to make it easier for working parents to do all the things that they can do.
A Journey to Making an Impact
Some of the lessons that I learned from my experience of becoming a CEO is to look where others aren’t looking. Sometimes when you’re in organizations, it feels like there aren’t opportunities, and you have to create your own. And sometimes the best way to do that is to find the places where people aren’t focused.
Don’t stay in your lane. I think, sometimes, as an employee, you feel like the organization just wants you to do X, Y, and Z. But, actually, I can tell you as a CEO, I want to grow the business and do what’s great for the business. And, if there are people around me who can bring ideas to help me grow the business, I want to hear them. I want to learn, I want to build, and I want to make an impact. And today, I’m more excited than ever to do that at Vimeo. I think we have an incredible platform and opportunity. Um, and I’m also, you know, I’ve got a lot of energy and a lot of work, um, and value I want to bring to the world. So, I hope to do many things, but always if I’m learning, building, and making an impact.