You might never equate the sport of skydiving with working at a software company like Salesforce. But in the mind of Salesforce Director of Software Engineering, Vignesh Elamvazhuthi, they share some uncanny similarities. Vignesh hails from Kanyakumari, a coastal town in the state of Tamil Nadu on India’s southern tip. Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with him about working at Salesforce and how his activities outside of work keep his mind fresh and ready for the challenges of the digital economy.
How did you end up at Salesforce and how long have you been here?
My current supervisor at Salesforce used to manage teams in the same business unit at our previous company. We reconnected and he referred me to Salesforce. After a series of interviews, I was hired into one of his teams.
I’ve been here for 6 years. First as an individual contributor and now as a manager of engineering teams working on various projects. It’s been a great journey.
What is the value or impact of the work you do at Salesforce?
At a company as large as Salesforce, you might think it would be hard to see the impact of your work. But when I’m in a social setting or at Dreamforce and I hear people going gaga about Salesforce features, it makes me very proud. I think to myself, “Hey, my team and I built that!”
Tell us a bit about your life outside of work. What do you do to unwind?
I believe in living life to the fullest. I love spending time with my fun and adventurous wife Kala and my buddy Bagheera, a four-year old, all-black German Shepherd mix, who I named after the panther in The Jungle Book. For example, Kala and I spent eight memorable days on a boat in the Bahamas, scuba diving all day. We’ve traveled quite bit — to Bali, New Zealand, Italy and more.
I also strongly believe that outside of work everyone should try to be part of something where you can have moments when nothing passes through your brain. The constant chatter is gone, and all your attention is focused on a single task. And for me that’s skydiving.
Skydiving? Tell us more!
I’ve been skydiving for five years and made about 900 jumps. I love every aspect of it. Each jump has a goal and you work towards that goal with total mental and physical concentration. You don’t always succeed. In fact, sometimes you fail with 60 or 80 other people in the air! But you always learn and can often laugh at your silly mistakes. I appreciate the highs and lows of the sport and the idea of always moving forward. And I’ve met some very inspiring people I wouldn’t have otherwise.
Recently I started to compete in four-way formation skydiving, which is a skydiving discipline where four skydivers attach themselves to one another while free falling. The goal is to build a formation of multiple divers in a geometric pattern.
You’re obviously very active in and outside of work. How do you maintain a healthy balance?
That’s one of the main reasons I love working at Salesforce. It’s a cliché, but I really can maintain a work-life balance. I can enjoy my work without sacrificing the personal experiences that refresh me. That way I can give 100 percent to every professional challenge.
I find so many parallels between skydiving as a team sport and how I work with my teams. Soft skills like emotional and social intelligence. How to respond mentally in a stressful situation. Remembering and reinforcing the ageless truth that small and steady improvements always result in the best outcomes.
What do you find most satisfying about working at Salesforce?
Over the years at Salesforce, I’ve been part of teams that built features like leads, opportunities, campaigns and many more. Features that are highly valued and used by our customers.
And one of the challenges in these efforts is trying to solve complex problems with innovative and scalable solutions, while maintaining customer trust. But the satisfaction of solving difficult problems successfully is as gratifying as nailing a complex skydiving formation with a highly skilled team!
Any final thoughts?
At Salesforce, we’re always listening and building products to match the ever-evolving industry. Things move at breakneck speed here. We keep investing in the next big solution that can improve our customers’ lives. And I’ve been lucky to be part of Salesforce as it’s adapted to several technological and cultural challenges.
Being part of an engineering organization in a company that’s recognized as one of the most innovative companies on the planet keeps you on your toes. There’s never a dull moment or shortage of exciting, complex problems to solve.
Want to join the team at Salesforce? Check out our current open positions here.