I recently joined Smartsheet as the company’s Chief Technology Officer, and it’s the opportunity of a lifetime in many ways. I was looking for an exceptional opportunity, and I feel like I’ve found that at Smartsheet. Here are three reasons why:
1. Working on the killer app of the day
I started my career at Microsoft, and worked my way up to General Manager before leaving to build my own company, which was eventually acquired by Quantum. Most recently, I’ve been working at Amazon Web Services for the past four years, leading teams that build and operate some of the most foundational services that power all of AWS.
Watch: Praerit Garg discusses the future of Smartsheet with SVP of Product Gene Farrell
Throughout my career, I’ve seen technology evolutions happen: the PC evolution, then the client server, then the Internet, and now Software as a Service (SaaS). In all of those evolutions, what you find is that there are only few killer applications that propel that technology wave.
Microsoft Excel was the killer app in the early 1990s. Email was the killer app in the late 90s. Then internet search became the killer app in the 2000s. In each wave, very few applications that come around have the opportunity to truly help people be productive. People buy applications because they want to make their lives better — personally or professionally.
I think Smartsheet is the first thing we’ve seen since Microsoft Excel and Office that has the potential to take workplace productivity to a whole new level. And that's what gets me excited about being here.
Praerit Garg, Smartsheet CTO
2. An amazing culture and team
I really like the culture here at Smartsheet. The members of the leadership team, starting with our CEO Mark Mader, are humble and good human beings. Even with all the success they've realized thus far, they're always listening for ways we can be better and do more for our customers.
I'm also really impressed with the culture here — it’s nurturing without being indulgent. It was important to me to find a company that's both doing exciting work and has a good environment and culture. There are very few companies like Smartsheet where you can find that balance.
3. Shaping our engineering team
I'm looking forward to helping shape the engineering team and the product for the next decade. First, it's an absolute honor and a privilege to have this incredible opportunity to lead the Smartsheet engineering organization. I hope to accelerate our existing culture of innovation, for finding simpler solutions to hard problems, and for delivering great experiences for our customers.
I believe that leaders are servants, and my job is actually to help my team be successful.
Praerit Garg, Smartsheet CTO
I will also be working to instill a culture dedicated to operational excellence. As a SaaS company, we earn our customers’ trust and business every day, every hour. Operating our service flawlessly is job #1.
As I grow the team, I will be looking for two main qualities in our engineers. One is a bootstrap mentality. The kind of engineers we want are the ones that are scrappy, who look for simple solutions to hard problems. And that’s actually easier said than done.
As engineers, we like building things. When we find a problem, our natural instinct is to build our own tool to solve it, even though most of the time, you’ll find that others already had the same problem and have already built a really good tool that we can just adopt. Scrappy engineers look to ride on shoulders of giants.
The other thing I look for is attitude; I’m looking for problem solvers versus problem creators. You can find engineers, and good ones, who worry about every single problem out there, and they'll constantly tell you about them. Then there are engineers that just focus and solve the important problems. They come with solutions and move the business forward. Once you have the right attitude, you can solve a lot of problems.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to do just that — and to roll up my sleeves and work with the Smartsheet team as I begin this new journey to dramatically improve how people work.