Q1. Tell us a little about your journey and what led you to CommerceIQ?
I started my career in 2008 as a talent acquisition partner. I worked for Yahoo and Thoughtworks from 2008 to 2010. During that time the startup buzz swept the market and I got hooked. I slowly started to take a step into the HR arena, understanding in-depth the length and breadth of things — right from recruiting to the employee lifecycle. I was quick to realize that startups were a great opportunity to grow and experience the essence of the HR fraternity and started searching for jobs.
By 2014, I had already experienced my first exit and was looking for my next gig when I came across Boomerang Commerce. They were a small team of 25 people who envisioned stellar growth plans with impressive vision and goals. When I started, the company had just raised its Series A funding. I was excited to be part of this company’s journey, in building teams and driving initiatives for people. In 2018, Boomerang Commerce today rebranded as CommerceIQ and is now a Series C funded company by Insight Partners.
At CommerceIQ, we have a dedicated research and development center in India that lets me focus on driving people culture initiatives along with building a great talent pool. This means I get to help build out the next phase of the business — developing innovation culture, fostering strategies for businesses to grow, and positioning ourselves to be a unicorn company in the coming years.
Q2. You recently won a company award for various initiatives that you brought forward to help employees deal with the pandemic. Can you tell us about these programs and the impact that they had on the team in India?
At CommerceIQ, we’ve built our foundation on trust and integrity by being approachable, proactive, compassionate, and transparent. Our internal communications are more frequent and serve as safe channels for our people to voice their concerns.
“Covid phase 2 was the most difficult period for everyone in India. These trying times have been overwhelming for many. Some have adapted to the new normal and are thriving, while some are struggling. We understood this and provided a shoulder to lean on, helping our people get through this together and stronger.”
Our people reached out to us with their concerns and I set out to address each one of them. The first step was to bring an on-call doctor as the demand was high but the availability was low. I reached out to my network and got in touch with a highly qualified doctor who kind-heartedly made himself available to our team and their families. During the peak of COVID, were even able to successfully procure 15 oxygen concentrators for our families when supply in the country was scarce.
Next, once vaccines became available, was to host a vaccination drive. We sponsored vaccination for our team members, their direct dependents, and eventually their extended family and friends.
Finally, we focused on the need for teams to recharge. With work from home being a huge success for us, we also accounted for its drawbacks. Social engagement is a human need and with the pandemic, it has taken a setback. We engaged the team in fun virtual activities, including brainstorm sessions, zoom parties, group workouts, and meditation. We canceled internal meetings between 1-3 pm on workdays so people could take a break. This proved to be beneficial for overall performance and output.
Q3. What aspects of a company’s culture do you believe are the most important?
The key to success at CommerceIQ is to work on customer feedback. This enables every employee to imbibe CIQ’s cultural value of taking ownership and delivering results on time.
“We are on a rocket ship where there is plenty of white space available for our employees to propel excellence from within.”
Our vision is bold by proposing continuous innovation that transforms an industry and drives significant revenues in a multibillion-dollar market. Every member at CIQ demonstrates a bias for action. In this fast-paced life, speed matters in our business.
As the pandemic hit global communities, uncertainties swept across businesses. Job insecurity was at its peak, the economy took a hit, and businesses were forced to close.
“During these trying times, we led with empathy and that set us apart from most businesses.”
The company could have easily withheld bonuses, raises, or other incentives when the epidemic hit. Other companies like Google and Amazon did do this temporarily. But because of our partnership with the people who make up our company, our CEO came out strongly saying people come first and should be recognized for their hard work! So not only was there a raise and bonus announcement, but we also announced a one-time performance bonus for everyone in the company.
Underpinning this is another aspect of the company culture that I think is very important, and that is valuing diversity. At CommerceIQ, it is a given that people treat each other with respect and always look for opportunities to help one another in solving problems. Teams built on trust are stronger together and are capable of tackling obstacles through hard times.
Q4. One of CommerceIQ’s stated goals is to make this company one of the best places to work. How are we doing in this regard?
We believe transparency is key in any company. At CommerceIQ, we work with our people to grow, pepper existing processes and set new agendas that align with the vision of our company and people. To support this we send regular surveys, giving our people a safe platform to communicate their concerns/opinions on various programs. Once we receive their feedback, we relook at processes and make small changes that drive our company forward.
“No company can make a sudden dynamic shift as the entire system may collapse. Making incremental changes is a great needle mover when it comes to creating processes that sustain for the long haul.”
I believe minor changes mature and evolve for the greater good. At CommerceIQ, I pilot small initiatives, incrementally release small-scale changes that can eventually mature to become successful programs. My team and I are focused on creating an environment where our people are comfortable sharing their feedback and opinions with their supervisors, managers, or any higher-up in the company. We are a cultural organization where our people feel heard, valued, and acknowledged. And this, in a nutshell, is how we make CommerceIQ a great place to work.
Q5. What qualities and values make the most successful people at CommerceIQ?
Some people have inborn qualities and others work hard to develop these qualities. Creative thinking and risk-taking ability is not everyone’s cup of tea and I feel that doesn’t directly equate to success.
“I believe curiosity, self-learning, resilience, and taking ownership are 4 main qualities that drive an individual’s growth, making him/her successful in the long run.”
These qualities transcend into key-value outcomes such as delivering results, being a team player, influencing others within and outside our organization, thereby leading by example.
Q6. We have so many open positions at the company. How do we attract talent?
Our presence on LinkedIn and Glassdoor works wonders. We connect with like-minded groups on these platforms, learning and growing every day. These groups could be specific like Product Specialists, UI Specialists, Data Science Specialists, Lean In Network (Woman in Tech), or Developers among others. By positioning ourselves where there is talent visibility gives us a platform to showcase what we offer as a company and the different positions open to apply.
Our recruitment process is very well structured thereby allowing the applicant to align themselves with the company’s vision, the purpose, and what CommerceIQ envisages to be in the coming years even before the interview.
This enables the candidate/talent out there to understand the problem statement and prepare well ahead of time before getting into a detailed interview process. Our talent attraction to job offered ratio stands at 90% which we take pride in. This is possible because:
- We do an exploratory call with the candidate prior and bring them in the loop with things.
- We explain what success looks like for them in our company
- We dive deep into how an individual can grow within the company
- Lastly, we explain the values, principles, and culture of the company
These pointers help prospective candidates foresee their career and growth in a company for the next 3-4 years helping them make rational decisions. Unlike many other start-ups, our structures are set ahead of time. This could be a specific department structure, a defined structure for each job function, as well as criteria for promotions. This sets us apart is our people are aware from the get-go how evaluations are done, at what level of independence must one operate, and what is expected from them as they climb the career ladder within the company.
Q7. What advice would you give managers on handling their direct reports?
The ideal workflow is to identify pressing issues, chalk out a solution-driven plan, and strive to exceed expectations. Setting high standards for clear communication is always key in maintaining a good bond with your people.
“When things are going well in your department, let your employees know about it. Acknowledge their contribution often and feel free to make a big deal about it. Your appreciation is much more motivational than a bonus!”
Sometimes, the performance outcome of your employee may not meet the set expectations. During such situations, don’t isolate the employee. Instead, find ways to tackle hurdles together and help them get back on track as a team.
This does not indicate lowering of standards, rather promotes partnering with your employee and living up to expectations as a team.
Learn to trust your employees. Our high-bar recruitment process ensures only the best are hired. Now it’s time to believe in their capabilities and encourage autonomy while they join you in creating a positive work environment.
Set your employees up for success and not failure. Encourage them to identify their strengths. If possible, allot daily tasks for your people to aid their career progression within the organization. To propel personal development goals among our people, provide them with training courses or tools to enable learning and growth on a daily basis. This is actually something we mandate at CommerceIQ.
Q8. On a personal note, what was your inspiration to be where you are today?
“I joined Boomerang Commerce way back in 2014 as a Talent Acquisition lead because I saw an opportunity to explore Talent Management. The company gave me the opportunity to build Talent Development and Retention Strategies. Growing the team from 10 members to a 200-strong company had various challenges.”
We are on a mission to build a complex and sophisticated operating system to help brands grow on any e-commerce platform. CommerceIQ continuously invests in all directions and has been doubling its human Capital for the past several years.
“The opportunity to grow as a culture champion inspires me to go above and beyond; to be curious to learn continuously has helped me build a positive attitude personally and professionally.“