September 17, 2021
Gopuff has assembled an award-winning team of leaders that includes experts in engineering and technology, supply, growth, marketing, business development, and finance. With experience working at leading organizations like Airbnb, Amazon, Anheuser-Busch, Comcast, Facebook, Lyft, Target, TripAdvisor, Uber, and Walmart, our team of leaders bring decades of experience across industries. Today, we’ll get to know one of those great leaders: Sharad Sundaresan, Gopuff’s SVP, Head of Product and Growth!
With more than 20 years of experience leading growth and product teams at industry-defining brands, Sharad is passionate about solving customer problems, taking on big challenges, and exploring new ideas, as demonstrated in his colorful career. Now at Gopuff, Sharad leads our fast-growing product and growth teams. Interested in joining our tech (or another) team? Check out our careers page here!
Zack Farrell, Gopuff’s Director of Product, recently interviewed Sharad to learn more about his background and experience at Gopuff – read on for their discussion!
Zack: To get started, can you tell us a little about your hobbies or what activities you enjoy in your free time?
Sharad: I very much enjoy reading, both fiction and nonfiction, and am currently rereading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. In addition to reading, I have always enjoyed traveling with my wife and two young boys – we’ve been to about 55 countries so far and I’m really looking forward to picking back up on travel once it’s safe to do so. I really love spending time outdoors and staying active. This past winter, since we weren’t able to travel so much, my family and I skied and snowboarded nearby nearly every weekend. Then, in the spring and summer, we’ll play tennis more frequently.
Zack: Now that we know you a little better, tell us how you got started on your career path.
Sharad: I started on the path towards tech and engineering really early. Thanks to my mom, I took my first coding class in 7th grade. Growing up in India in the ’80s, having a 7th grader in a computer class was a bit unusual, but I immediately fell in love with it and knew I wanted to work with computers. Fast forward a few years, and I got my undergraduate degree in computer science, then came to the United States to get my graduate degree. Shortly after, I began working as a software engineer at Microsoft in the late ’90’s. While I always enjoyed engineering – and still do – I began wondering more about how my coding and work was being used when I was at Microsoft. I was asking myself questions like ‘Who used the software I was building? Why? How was I making an impact on the consumer?’ I wanted to help solve a problem, and that helped anchor my path.
Zack: So, you started your career off at Microsoft. What happened after that and what drew you to Gopuff?
I’ve since worked on a few different things in my career – I have launched products at Roku, oversaw mobile products at Yahoo, helped build and launch multiple products and services at Amazon’s AWS, and served as Airbnb’s Head of Growth and Traffic before joining Gopuff. I believe that great companies solve for customers’ problems first, and Gopuff does exactly that. I have always been drawn to building products that transform and enhance people’s daily lives. This opportunity at Gopuff very much builds on my passion and experience – leveraging technology to change and improve the way we interact with the world around us. I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this great team.
Zack: As you know, we are focused on our customers at Gopuff, and it sounds like this is also where your passion lies. How do you focus on the customer in your role specifically?
Sharad: I truly enjoy working to improve our customer experience. Customers have choices, and we need to make sure they choose us. We need to keep building and repeating great customer experiences, and that starts with great people, good tech, and products that provide value, remove friction and deliver on promises. That all starts with us, but ends with the customer’s satisfaction and product is their first interaction point.
Zack: What advice do you have for people just starting out in their careers?
Sharad: I have a few pieces of advice for those just joining the working world:
- Find your passion. Find areas that you’re really interested in so that you’re excited and passionate about your work. This will positively impact not only your own happiness but also your work product – it’s always easier to do a job that you’re passionate about.
- Think ahead. It’s crucial to continually think ahead – keep reinventing and looking for new ways to solve problems. This industry moves quickly and it’s so important to remain focused on solving for the future, rather than getting stuck in the past.
- Find a mentor. Finding success all on your own is difficult, so having a good mentor to guide you is invaluable. Make connections early on, identify mentors, and lean on them. In my own experience, mentors can ensure you have a more balanced view of the world and help you approach the bigger problems with a more informed perspective. Let them guide you based on their own experiences.
Zack: How do you like to lead your team and what do you look for in candidates for Gopuff’s product team?
Sharad: I am detail-oriented and hands-on with my teams, but I also believe it is important to give teams the space they need to come into their own. When looking to hire new candidates, I mainly look for two things:
- Ownership: In order for a team to be successful, everyone must know their role and own their work – feel responsible for it. This is where it’s so helpful to have a natural passion for your field and a drive to succeed and innovate.
- Bias for action: In the product world today, everyone plays many different roles. It’s hard to define what every hour will look like – and I look for team members who will actively jump to take on new projects big or small. In essence: A willingness to roll up your sleeves and get involved in any project and solve any problem.
Anyone interested in joining the team should visit the Gopuff careers page.