C-suite Pro Advice: Ramesh Prabagaran, Prosimo

Name: ramesh prabagaran

Company: Please

Job title: CEO and co-founder

Location: California, United States

Ramesh Prabagaran is the CEO and co-founder of Please, which offers a simplified multi-cloud infrastructure for distributed business travel in the cloud. Businesses innovate faster and stay in control with Prosimo’s integrated stack. This stack combines cloud networking, performance, security, observability, and cost management, all driven by data insights and machine learning models with autonomous cloud networking to reduce complexity and risk. Cloud-oriented businesses, including F100, have adopted Prosimo to successfully deploy revenue-generating applications, improve operational efficiency, and accelerate positive business results.

What was the most valuable professional advice you received? We always think of our career as a competitive game, comparing our career path with others. That said, the most valuable advice I’ve ever received is to compare yourself only to yourself from a few months ago and if you haven’t excelled at that, then it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. Do you want to be a better version of who you were even three months ago? If the answer to that is yes, you know it’s something you need to work on.

What was the worst business advice you received? To be in a startup you have to think differently, and startups offer a very good way to focus on one or two priorities at most. The worst advice really comes from people who lead really big corporations, it’s not really the worst, but it’s bad for a startup. They start to encourage you to think about coverage and do endless tasks and priorities, but you don’t have that nonsense in a startup.

Instead, jump in with both feet and start thinking about making bold bets and see if it works. The advantage you have in a startup is that if it doesn’t work out, great. Get up and go one hundred percent in the other direction.

What advice would you give someone starting their career in IT/Technology? I would say, first look for companies that have a big impact. Second, find a mentor, manager, or leader who can help you learn. I think those two things matter more than anything else. Then you can look at security and career growth, but first you have to discover yourself. If it can’t do that, then it doesn’t really move the needle down the line.

Have you always wanted to work in IT/Technology? Yes, being close to areas that are not yet fully investigated is what drew me to the field. I enjoy waking up in the morning and knowing that no one knows the correct answer. It’s like exploring the jungle trying to find a way forward and that excites me.

What was your first job in technology? My first job was at Juniper Networks as a QA Engineer. I had to test and report bugs on a product that was going to be shipped to a few customers and it all went downhill from there.

What are some of the common misconceptions about working in technology? too many! The technology itself is quite broad. There is quite a lot of innovation happening in so many different areas. I think the misconception is that you just want to associate yourself with new and exciting areas to enhance your career, but that’s not true. You can take something that has really been time-tested, do it differently, and still have a material impact.

Technology is not just about self-driving cars and cryptography and quantum computing that are in front-page news almost every day, but about sewing something that is inefficient to start with and improve on it.

What advice would you give to someone looking to achieve a C-level position? It may sound cliché, but start with the team. I’ve been in small teams and had the opportunity to build teams all the way up to large teams with 300-400 people. No matter the size, start with the team and if you don’t have the people, nothing else matters. Second, build the team based on complementary skills. It’s almost like a puzzle and you need to intentionally find people who can be part of the team.

Then you can have your point of view and push it down or you can have the team present it and then push it up. While neither of those are the optimal answers, I think there has to be a combination of both perspectives. You need to have your thesis on how to make decisions and you need to respect the decisions that come from below because in many cases, that is the truth.

What are your professional ambitions and have you already achieved them? I don’t think I’ll ever be happy saying I’ve achieved a specific career ambition. Solving problems is what keeps me motivated in my professional life, so my ambition would be to solve some unsolved problems. I am always looking for the next challenge.

Do you have a good work-life balance in your current position? I strive to achieve a good balance between work and personal life. If I ever spin too far on any side, personal or professional, I tend to collapse so my balance helps keep me in check.

What would you change, if anything, about the path your professional career has taken? I wouldn’t choose a different career, but they always told me to become a doctor or an engineer, and I can’t stand blood, so I became an engineer!

What would you recommend: a coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? Secure bootcamp. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty through the real thing. You can sit in classes all day and try different projects, but having the opportunity to learn from bootcamp failures is a valuable experience.

How important are specific certifications? I like and hate certifications. The certifications are well organized and can take you to a certain point to gain technical knowledge. However, at some point, you need the experience to understand how the concepts apply in the real world.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in potential candidates? I have two skills that I look for in candidates. The first is critical thinking. I put critical thinking above domain expertise. I am looking for candidates who can make good decisions and approach problems in the right way. Second is my personal “No Asshole” policy. We want different personalities, but one idiot can make the team go south very quickly.

What would discourage you from a candidate? If a candidate mentions something from 10 years ago from the beginning. It’s more important to mention recent successes and frame how your past impacted you in a positive way.

What are the most common mistakes candidates make in an interview? How can these errors be avoided? Interviews should be equal parts for you and your prospective employer. Research the company and come prepared with thoughtful questions to see if it’s a perfect fit.

Do you think it is better to have technical or commercial skills, or a combination of both? I have my MS and MBA, but sometimes I don’t know which side of me I like more! The technical side gives you an understanding of whether things are built the right way, while the business side gives you the ability to analyze whether ideas are going to be successful. Ideally, a healthy mix of both is good for your career.

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