The engineering team here at the ‘Xu is crucial to the success of our customers and our company overall. Engineering is one of the biggest departments we have and is spread around the globe with teams in both Boston and Bangalore, India. At the head of this team sits Yekesa Kosuru, dataxu’s Vice President of Engineering.
To lead an effective team of over 100 people in multiple time zones requires a well-developed approach. We caught up with Yekesa to learn how he tackles his day-to-day responsibilities at dataxu, as well as get a closer look at how he manages such a diverse and global team.
Q: What is your role at dataxu?
A: To put it succinctly, my role is to translate business requirements into products that serve and delight our marketer and agency customers. This task involves a number of steps, but starts with strategy and direction from the executive team that is then broken down into bigger themes. These themes are chopped up into plans and sprints and are executed by our engineers.
Q: You approach your day-to-day work with a systematic and focused method. Explain this method to us.
A: Everything we do here at dataxu is driven by customer needs. I would therefore describe my method of approaching my daily work as “Customer-Centric.” I focus on the “-ilities,” i.e. quality, availability, maintainability and serviceability.
By continually keeping these “-ilities” in mind, I am able to effectively work on and enhance the dataxu platform so that everything we add or change further enables our customers’ success. I approach this method (and my day) in a highly logical and organized fashion. I begin every day by thinking about the goals and responsibilities we have for the quarter; not just the projects I am directly working on, but all engineering-related projects. I make a list every day that I recite in the morning, stick to it religiously throughout the day, and recite it again before I go to bed.
Q: You have a unique way of managing the dataxu engineering team. Can you explain how you set your team up for success?
A: I always try to lead by example and am constantly thinking about how to break down the goals of the business into interesting projects for our engineers. I know when to give my team the autonomy they need in order to be effective. For example, I make an effort not to attend meetings where I know a decision is about to be made or a key point debated, as I recognize that my presence as VP of Engineering changes the dynamic of the room. Team-focused discussions that need to happen may not happen if I am present. The outcome of a key debate may be different because I attended and team members deferred to me instead of speaking their mind.
I feel that my decision to skip certain meetings helps empower my team members and allows them to truly take ownership over their work. That being said, if there is a major issue that needs my input, I will certainly jump in to help address it and coach the team on how to handle similar issues in the future.
Q: How do you manage the “bigger picture” of what Engineering is trying to accomplish here at dataxu, in addition to managing a multitude of day-to-day projects?
A: I set the tone and pace for the team based on our business goals and customer needs. That way, at the end of each quarter, we can highlight the value we added for both our customers and the business.
I engage with velocity, gauge how it is accepted, and then strive to push our team even further if possible. I am always asking if the team can do a little more. This is because I have a high level of trust in the team and appreciate that they are fully committed to doing what needs to be done for the success of our customers and our business. Our engineers and technical support staff work incredibly hard and I take inspiration from their dedication and commitment to excellence. They work with one common passion, and one common purpose. In the end, they always “get it done”—and get it done well.
Q: It’s great to hear how excited you are about dataxu and your team! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself outside of work? Maybe something most people don’t know about you?
A: Growing up, my favorite sport was cricket – and still is! I often translate baseball to cricket in my head and get confused as to why it’s played that way whenever I catch a game. I’ve actually gotten up at 3:00am to watch a cricket match when India was playing. Probably the only time that’s ever happened!
Another interesting tidbit. My favorite movie is Apollo-13. Not only because it’s a great storyline, but because it touches upon the human aspects of engineering lessons.
Q: Why do you love working at dataxu?
A: I love working here because of our people. Everyone at dataxu is collaborative and easy to work with. I learn from my colleagues every day and am humbled by their self-driven nature. Being around their positive energy invigorates me and I truly enjoy being able to work with them every day. The engineering team has a singular goal and works together to achieve it—and that makes being a part of this team that much better. We’re always looking for people who want to join a team like ours. If you’re interested, we have roles open at the moment. You can take a look here.