In our Productivity Hero Spotlight series, we interview enterprise leaders to learn how they think about productivity and how they got to where they are in their careers. For this week’s productivity hero spotlight, we spoke to Miru Gunarajah, Senior Vice President of Revenue Operations at Qualtrics.
Interviewer: Real quick for those out there, who haven't heard of Qualtrics, what's the quick elevator pitch?
Miru: Qualtrics empowers organizations to deliver exceptional experiences and build deep relationships with their customers and employees. Helping customers identify and resolve the greatest friction points in their customer & employee journeys. Whether that’s your experience with ordering food on an app or letting your employer know how you feel about your benefits.
Interviewer: And what’s your role at Qualtrics, what do you do?
Miru: I run our Revenue Operations, Strategy & Programs team here at Qualtrics. A lot of my day is spent with our sales leaders helping to figure out both operationally and strategically, how do we go and hit our top-line growth number.
“A lot of my day is spent with our sales leaders helping to figure out both operationally and strategically, how do we go and hit our top-line growth number”
So that's everything from forecasting to deal management to making sure we have enough pipeline driving across the various different sources, understanding the different components and how it all comes together.
Interviewer: What does a typical workday look like?
Miru: I don't know to be honest, if there is a typical workday for me, it's kind of all over but a lot of my day is spent trying to figure out how I go and unblock my team and our sales leaders to help them achieve what they need. Splitting my time between working with my team vs. plugging into cross functional initiatives to help bring together teams to solve some of our larger problems.
Interviewer: What excites you about your role?
Miru: Understanding the mechanics of how we can actually go and take a very large problem and go and shift an entire sales organization and continue to evolve it to keep up with the growth that we've been on - that's what excites me.
Interviewer: Our readers love to learn how other leaders approach productivity. How do you get the job done?
Miru: My calendar is typically back to back meetings all day; and so I unfortunately need to multitask in order to stay on top of the things I need to get done. This includes firing off quick slacks/texts to respond to items or adding tasks to my to-do list to get them done as soon as I get a break in meetings.
I try to spend the mornings knocking out any larger work items then playing tactical catch up in the evenings. However, I know not everyone works that way - and so given I don’t want to have a bunch of emails/slacks go out in the evenings, I typically schedule send anything that is not urgent and is just me catching up.
Unfortunately, I've tried like 17 different to-do lists. But I take a whole bunch of notes, whether it's in meetings, or it's to-do items. And so that's where some of the note-taking capabilities of Xembly help quite a bit because then that summarizes the notes and ensures I didn’t miss anything.
“I’ve tried like 17 different to-do lists”
Interviewer: How do you promote productivity and collaboration in general?
Miru: In my one-on-ones, I have an individual document that I create for each of my direct reports. In this document we capture topics & discussion points as well as any actions. This ends up being a log of things - but also a forward reminder as I can add topics to chat about next time we connect. I do the same thing for team meetings - so the entire team can add topics that we can discuss.
The other one is whenever we're running larger projects, having a regular touch point with that particular team and having a Slack channel so we can keep up to date with action items and notes and things that need to go get done.
Interviewer: With so much going on how do you prioritize those tasks? And with a full calendar, how do you manage your time?
Miru: It’s hard. Especially when you're in meetings all day and then trying to find time in between to get stuff done.
I can’t say that I’ve nailed the whole work-life balance thing yet, but I’m trying harder with 2 growing boys at home. I typically try to get offline between 5-6p go spend some time with my wife and the boys, help with dinner and bedtime., I’ll then log back in to get any tactical work items and prep for the next day.
Prioritizing time and activities is hard - especially in an operational role where everything sometimes is a fire. The best analogy I try to use myself and with my team is to figure out which of the balls you’re balancing in the air are rubber vs. glass. And make sure you don’t drop the glass ones.
I manage a global team, but because I’m on the U.S. East Coast and most of our team is in Utah, I'm about two hours ahead so I typically have 8:30 to 10 am pretty open so that's where I can actually get some work done.
That's my typical flow but I try as much as possible to block time off during the day to actually get stuff done. It just, it always gets overbooked…
Interviewer: With AI all around us, how do you see it becoming part of your work?
Miru: I am hoping that I never have to write an email ever again, and I can say, hey, go send this to XYZ and here's the general context of what I'm trying to get at, and it will craft a beautifully written note and send that out.
I think where I have leveraged AI a little bit more is for things where I need more creativity boost. It doesn't have to be full design creative, but simple things like, hey, I'm bringing my team together, I need an offsite, here's what I'm trying to get as my key objectives and it throws an agenda together for me. That takes typically hours for me to sit down and think through that.
AI has also helped be the sounding board to work through some of those details from my perspective.
Interviewer: How do you use Xembly and Xena to boost your productivity?
Miru: The biggest thing for me with Xembly is the scheduling. I'm meeting with a whole bunch of folks. The top command I use for Xena is: @xena, when can I meet with this person? And it's almost exactly as I use a real executive assistant; hey, I need to go meet with this person. Can you make that happen? And that's usually the easiest for me.
“The biggest thing for me with Xembly is the scheduling”
Instead of having to go check calendars, it helps get some of those scheduled because I can fire those off in between meetings. And then I know I can always come back to it because Xena will have the information.
And then action items. Particularly for the larger meetings I’m in, it's recording and being able to track the action items. Like if I'm running a command center or a forecast call, it's easier to have that summarized and be able to provide that at the end.
Interviewer: What helps you stay focused?
Miru: That's a good question. It’s one that I've been struggling with, to be completely candid and honest. With an ops role it is kind of all over the place depending on the fire of the week.
What I've done in the past is make sure that we have a prioritized list that we're focusing on and when all these other random things come up, stack those against that list. So if I know the top five things that I need to go get done, where does that particular task stack against those five? And if it doesn't, great, I'm not going to deal with it.
Interviewer: So for anyone who is looking to learn from an SVP of Revenue Operations, what are some habits or practices that have helped your career growth?
Miru: Doing the tasks that no one else wants to do, which sounds very cliché, but honestly, the reason that I feel like I've been able to move forward in my career and move as fast as I have is ultimately getting stuff done to the point where leaders don't need to second guess whether, if they pull me in, is it going to get done or not. It's going to get done and at high quality.
“Do the tasks no one else wants to do”
And the second one is to be humble about it. At the end of the day, there's only so much you can do, but if you're smiling and you're happy and you're a good person all around, people will genuinely like to be around you and you can go get stuff done.
More recently people are starting to realize the importance of emotional intelligence (EQ), but I feel like early on in my career, I never even heard the term EQ. EQ is very, very important. How you interact with different people and adapt to the ever-changing environment is very critical.
The other mantra that I also have is that like no job is too small. I don't care if you're the CEO or you're an entry-level person, if things have to go get done, you go get it done. Ensuring that you're able to lean in, roll up your sleeves, and be able to be there with the team, doesn't matter what level you are on, trying to get that stuff done is super helpful and that's helped me as well.
Interviewer: What’s a career advice that has stuck with you?
Miru: Going a bit unorthodox with the advice - but one of the best pieces of advice I've gotten, is the people who can make your lives easier are the executive assistants and chiefs of staff of an organization.
“the people who can make your lives easier are the executive assistants and chiefs of staff of an organization. ”
It doesn't matter where you are in your career, having a good relationship and helping those individuals out will make your life immensely easier. There's no way I can do my job without our executive assistant team. Knowing who's who and saying, hey, I need to get on this exec’s calendar. How do I go get that done?
That was the best piece of advice I received from one of my first managers and I always adhere to it. I think our executive assistants don't get enough credit for the amount of things they do to make our lives easier.
Interviewer: So if we turn the tables a little bit, what’s a piece of advice you would give your younger self or someone starting out in their career?
Miru: The other one that I'd probably say is to figure out what parts of your boss's job they don't like to do and go take those on. That was another one that I read early on and I started doing and that's helped me. Your boss appreciates it because they don't want to be doing that, they have other things to go focus on.
But then two, it also shows that you'll go get that stuff done, and you'll go figure it out.
And so it does take a different type of person to be able to say, “it's fine, I'll go figure that out and I'll go work through that.”
Figure out what your manager does not like to do and go take that on.
Interviewer: Miru, this was super helpful and fun to learn about how you think about productivity, your career, and how you use Xembly and Xena to boost your productivity. Thank you!