7 Questions with Vivian Gomes
Name: Vivian Gomes
Current title: Senior Vice President & Global Head - Marketing & Inside Sales
Current organisation: CSS Corp
★ Vivian's been recognized with the prestigious “CMO of the Year – IT&S 2020” award at the 23rd Inflection Marketing Innovation Awards and Web Conference organized by NASSCOM Center of Excellence and the Alden Global Group. He has been earlier awarded with recognitions like the ‘Covid-19 Super Hero CMO Award 2020’ by Enterprise IT World, “100 Most Innovative MARTECH Leaders” by the World Marketing Congress and other reputed awards.
★ He has an accomplished career of 18 years in the IT/ITES industry where he has undertaken multiple leadership roles across marketing and business development.
★ He has worked for leading brands like Infosys, Genpact, NIIT, CSS Corp and a Bay Area based Fintech SaaS Startup, now part of Q2 Software Inc, a Unicorn
★ Over his career, he has overseen the generation of over $2Bn of new logo demand pipeline through integrated marketing programs, and acquisition of almost 50 new B2B logos
★ At his latest organization, CSS Corp, he led the company to become the world’s most awarded and analyst accredited IT services company under $1Bn revenue and industry’s #1 company in LinkedIn engagement rate
★ He has a Full-time MBA from the Indian School of Business and is a rank holder in B.E. at Manipal Institute of Technology
★ He is a regular contributor of thought leadership in the Tier 1 media, and regularly speaks on podcasts and event panels
1. What have you found most challenging as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise?
In general, I feel the strongest driving force in an organization, especially in the services industry, is the passion and fervor of its employees. In the IT services industry that I am part of, people are the biggest assets. While it is easy to keep a small bunch of folks motivated and pumped up, it becomes increasingly difficult in larger set ups. In large enterprises, it becomes very important to create a multi-tiered leadership with accountability at every level to ensure the people below them are engaged and aligned to the organization’s goals and vision. I feel this is something that’s easier said than done and something that the many renowned organizations and leaders struggle with.
2. How did you become a CEO or executive of a large enterprise? Can you please briefly tell the story?
I believe that everything starts with a vision and hunger to succeed. In my early career, I was able to make up my mind quickly about what I like to do and what I don’t. If you are convinced that you are in the right space, then don’t hesitate to invest time in building your base. You’ve got to have the patience to work your way up through the ranks. At the same time, there are phases in one’s career when one feels stagnated. In such circumstances, it is perfectly alright to look outside for new avenues if you feel that your current ecosystem will not serve your long-term goals. However, it is important to tune yourself to weave in some patience as it is very easy to get mentally bored in an organization and think you are done with it. Jumping from organizations every year or two does not serve the purpose as you never get to go deep and create meaningful impact. I was able to make the right moves at important stages of my career and rise up the ranks using the above philosophy. It has been very important to me to excel in my work. The growth will naturally follow.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Tom Rath, well known author, said that to live a healthy life one needs to do three fundamental things right – eat the right food, move and get exercise, and sleep well. Pre-Covid, my days had a good mix of all these factors quite naturally. Post-Covid, there has been some disruption to the rhythm but I believe I am putting things back into the right flow. I try to ensure that I moderate my diet. I also give attention to physical exercise and get 7 hours of sleep. In terms of work, being in the knowledge economy, I try to put in an hour reading up on the latest trends in the industry and news updates. Since we are in a 100% work-from-home model right now, I am able to balance out my work commitments by being available and more accessible but with logical breaks that allow me to manage my responsibilities at home as well.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
I believe humility is a very important virtue that’s the hallmark of a successful leader. I learnt this important lesson very early in my career. I remember when I first became a leader with a significant-sized team, I started using my position to exert influence on my subordinates and I saw very quickly that a manager of this kind can never command true respect. I course corrected in my next role and I could see a world of a difference. I have never looked back ever since. I feel people always tend to gravitate towards humble leaders whereas the overbearing kind of leaders can never earn true loyalty and respect in the long run.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
There are many fantastic books on leadership but one book that I found quite pertinent was a book called, “What got you here, won’t get you there” by Marshall Goldsmith. The basic theme of this book is that often people find early corporate success in their lives, but as they rise, they get into a comfort zone. They start overlooking their behavioral flaws, which were not showstoppers in the earlier part of their career. But with leadership positions, these simple flaws could be extremely detrimental to their future success. The book talks about how one can go about identifying if they have any such fundamental bad habits and how they should consciously work on them and correct them to ensure future success. This book really grounded me and ensured I never get complacent if I see success. It made me open to 360-degree feedback which I take quite seriously.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in a large enterprise?
I am a passionate groomer of talent and quickly try to size up individuals around me. The hard reality is that in any organization, the Pareto Principle tends to work, which is, 20% of the people do 80% of the work and vice versa. It is important to quickly identify your 20% who would be your long-term bets. While I am 100% committed to grooming each and every team member, I certainly put in extra effort on the 20% who naturally come to me and seek out my guidance and mentorship. Over a period of time, we can align a bunch of strong individuals for leadership positions this way. I have one piece of advice for any budding youngster – “Seek and you shall receive”. It all starts with the individual and what they want for themselves. If they really want something from deep within, the universe shall conspire to get it for them or give them the opportunities to get it. So, if they would like to be a leader one day, they have to start by acting like one.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a CEO or executive of a large enterprise so far?
The one meaningful story that comes to mind is of my own journey at my current organization, CSS Corp. When I joined this organization as global marketing and inside sales leader and when I looked at what we had achieved as a team in terms of brand and demand pipeline, there was not much to boast about. So, in many ways, I started with a clean slate and I had nothing to peg me down. Over the next 4 years, my team and I went on to achieve several times more than what had been achieved in the previous 20 years of the organization put together. Today, we regularly compete with and outclass some of the biggest names in the industry. The lesson here is that there is no force in this world more powerful than your own intent. If you have it, you can move mountains and past benchmarks cease to exist. So, don’t let the past constrain you and focus on building a better tomorrow.