Name: Sanjay Poonen
Sanjay Poonen is an Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at VMware. In this role, Sanjay is responsible for everything touching the customer, including worldwide sales, services, alliances, marketing, and communications.
Previously at VMware, Sanjay held the role of Executive Vice President and General Manager for the End-User Computing business unit at VMware.
Before VMware, Sanjay was President and Corporate Officer of Platform Solutions and the Mobile Division at SAP AG. While at SAP, Sanjay held a number of leadership roles in product development and sales, including leading SAP’s Analytics, Big Data, and Mobile, as well as all Industry Business Units.
Prior to SAP, Sanjay held executive roles at Symantec, Veritas, and Informatica, and he began his career as a software engineer at Microsoft, followed by Apple.
Sanjay serves on the Board of Directors of Infor and the Advisory Board of DocuSign. Sanjay also holds two patents.
Sanjay received his MBA from Harvard Business School. He has a master’s degree in Management Science and Engineering from Stanford University; and a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Math, and Engineering from Dartmouth College.
I ask Sanjay three questions that are specific to him.
- You have risen to a very high level in your last couple of big companies, SAP and VMware. What would you say are the top couple of reasons that you have been successful in these roles?
- Most of your jobs have been with US companies. But you also worked for SAP. What are the pros and cons of working with a non-US company?
- We talk a lot about innovation. It is easier to be innovative as a small company, for lots of reasons. How do you drive innovation in a large company?
I then ask Sanjay 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?
Sanjay has so much amazing guidance that it know you will enjoy the interview.
I then ask Sanjay to share his career path. Start at the beginning and talk us through the path that you took, and the decisions that you made along the way that led to where you are today.
As you listen to this and other career path interviews, one thing rings true. These great managers did not have a well-defined path that they followed. They all work hard, do a great job and pursue opportunities that continue to provide challenge and opportunity.
I hope you enjoy it!