“If you treat Europe as one mega-region… you’re bound to fail.”
I had to check twice when I looked at Arun Mani’s career path:
- Growing up in India
- Designing chips at Intel
- Studying for an MBA at the renowned INSEAD business school
- Advising C-level execs on strategy at McKinsey
- Leading global sales at AppNexus
- Running Freshdesk’s European expansion
Most people’s career exhibits some form of consistent theme. It took me a while to understand that for Arun, the one consistency is constant self-reinvention.
“From risk free safe choices, to what gives you happiness, there is a huge shift… you have to do everything the other way round.”
Arun has spent the last few months building a satellite Freshdesk team from scratch in Berlin, Germany to run the company’s efforts in Europe, as their customer base grows and moves up-market towards mid-level and Enterprise businesses.
Freshdesk today has over 900 employees globally and over 100,000 customers.
As you might expect, there’s a whole world of challenges involved in expanding a SaaS product to a new market, especially one so diverse as Europe.
In our discussion, we cover:
- The most common mistakes businesses make when approaching SaaS expansion to Europe — and how Freshdesk avoids this
- How transformation is a consistent theme across Arun’s whole career, and how he thinks of this as a vital component of personal growth
- How mentorship has played a critical role throughout his career, and how others can find their feet with it
- How he managed to build diversity into his team from scratch when so many others are struggling
- How running a remote (non-HQ) office came with some unexpected obstacles
“I do look for one thing, and that’s people who are comfortable with change. Because for me, that’s a proxy for the ability to learn.”
Arun’s recommended books
Here are the two books that Arun recommended during the interview:
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- Working Identity: Unconventional Strategies for Reinventing Your Career by Herminia Ibarra
Listen to the episode
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