Name: Raghu Raghuram
Raghu joined VMware in 2003 and has joint responsibility with Dr. Rajiv Ramaswami for all VMware’s product and service offerings and centralized services, support, and operational functions. In this role, Raghu’s primary focus is on VMware’s cloud services offerings.
During his tenure at VMware, Raghu has held multiple leadership roles, most recently leading the company’s software-defined data center business as the executive vice president and general manager, where he was responsible for the division’s strategy, business and product planning, and engineering execution. Prior to that he led the company’s cloud infrastructure and management business as the general manager and led worldwide product marketing, product management, and business planning for VMware’s virtual infrastructure. Raghu began his career at VMware running product management for ESX and vSphere.
Prior to VMware, Raghu held product management and marketing roles at AOL, Bang Networks, and Netscape. Raghu holds an MBA from the Wharton School of Business and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
I met Raghu for the first time during my interview. I had no idea what his role was in the company. He walked in and we started talking. It was a fun conversation. We didn’t agree on everything but he must have appreciated my perspective enough to give me a thumbs up. What a surprise when I found out who he was after the interview!
I think from this point on, Raghu and I had a good relationship. I met with him many times during my time at VMware, asking for advice, input, and support. I have a lot of respect for the knowledge and experience that Raghu has.
I know you will get a lot out of hearing from him!
I asked Raghu three questions that were specific to him.
- In your role of EVP and COO, with BU GMs reporting to you, what are your responsibilities and how do you define success?
- You are recognized in VMware and more broadly as a leader of innovation and have driven change to VMware’s product strategy. Two questions.
- How do you stay current with the technologies and determine which is most relevant to pursue?
- How do you drive that change across the company?
- When you talk to kids in college, what do you tell them about how to best prepare for their future?
I then asked Raghu the same six questions that I ask all interviewees – in a lightning-round format.
- What’s the most important factor you consider when hiring someone?
- Who was your most effective boss, and what made him or her stand out?
- What was the most difficult transition that you made in your career?
- How do you approach helping someone with their career development or path?
- What tools and tricks do you use to find work-life balance?
- How do you go about building relationships with your peers and other leaders in the company?
The interview was full of great content. Here are a few that jumped out for me.
We started the interview by talking about what it means to be the COO of Cloud Services and how this role works with the two other COOs in the company. This discussion is very telling in terms of how VMware makes this hybrid management structure work. Here is one of my favorite quotes from this discussion.
“The interesting thing about being a COO for cloud services, which is what I focus more, is it literally is bringing together all the functions of the company to deliver a cloud service in a manner that is very appealing to customers but also in a manner that is very cost effective and in keeping with the strategy of the company.”
Raghu has been instrumental in helping the company transform from a single product to a suite of products to a set of cloud services. We talked about how to best do this in a large technology company.
“Regardless of whether VP, SVP, even if you are Pat (Gelsinger, CEO). It doesn’t matter . Change happens when you can provide a clear purpose and a clear story for why a change is warranted and why we will be successful in making the change..”
You can hear Raghu’s innovative nature in the way he answers my question about the most important factor when hiring someone.
I think about their ability to problem solved.
From a blank sheet of paper. Can they create something?
I am sure that you will get a lot out of my podcast with Raghu!
After asking all of the questions above, I then asked Raghu to share his career path. I asked him to start at the beginning, talk us through the path that he took, and the decisions that he made that led to where he is today.
While at VMware, I always thought of Raghu as the Chief Product Officer (not his title:)). After hearing about his career journey, it is clear why I thought this!