A People-First Technologist: My podcast conversation with Dheeraj Pandey, CEO and founder of Nutanix

August 13, 2018
Ashu Garg

Bonus track: Dheeraj talks about coming to America

I recently sat down with Dheeraj Pandey, founder, chairman and CEO of Nutanix, one of the fastest growing enterprise companies of the past decade. A common theme I noticed throughout our conversation about his journey from engineer to CEO is his unwavering commitment to people.

As Dheeraj puts it:

“Business is about people more than technology. Technology is a means to an end, but how do you get people to come together and work together?”

As I look back on the companies I’ve worked with and advised over the years, no matter what the industry they operate in, it is the CEOs that value people who have the greatest success in building something that will last. In the case of Dheeraj, that’s what drives him most!

“It’s the ability to build something that’s long-lasting, it’s the legacy…look, we’ve come this far after all this naysaying… And obviously, because the challenge continues to grow the bar continues to be higher.. there’s no finish line.”

Dheeraj has three fundamental tenets to his “people first” philosophy that he puts into action in both his personal and professional life that I think are important for all entrepreneurs to keep top of mind as they grow their business:

Focus: As Nutanix has grown rapidly, they’ve had to stop and focus on the things that matter and what truly makes sense for their business.
Listen: Dheeraj constantly asks himself if he is listening to what his customers and employees actually want rather than what he thinks they want (note: This doesn’t apply to pundits!).
Respect: When companies reach a certain size, it is easy to think of customers and employees as a statistic. CEOs need to remember to respect all of their employees and all types of customers, from the smallest to the largest (fun fact: Dheeraj actually looks at every single resume of the person that his company is about the hire so he knows each one of his people).
When these three tenets are put into practice every day by leadership, and in turn by the employees, it can make a growing company almost unstoppable.

“Every year we had to prove ourselves. You know, people still look at us as ‘Oh, these are engineers, what can they do?’ as opposed to “Look, they’re actually hustling harder than anybody else.”

If you’d like to hear more from my conversation with Dheeraj, check out my podcast: How to B2B a CEO.