Thursday, March 6, 2014

Q&A with Our New Product Manager and Solution Architect - Anup Surendran

Q1: Tell me little bit about your background – where are you from? Education?

Cloud Solution Architect and Product Manager - Anup SurendranAnup: I lived and worked in an amazing country - Canada - for 13 years. After university, I worked at on a Plantation Workforce Management Solution in Malaysia for a year. Unilever has one of the largest palm oil plantation in Malaysia and a large external workforce. This was the door opener for me into the technology space. In Canada, my first startup was Camilion. I worked in a basement for about a year before the company moved into a real office. Here I started my first experience as a Solution Architect providing solution to all the major insurance companies (AIG, AXA, Lyons) and created risk management and policy management integration and solutions. It was an exhausting job with a lot of travel required, but it was exciting because I helped scaling the talent, processes and helped grow the company at a very fast rate.  After that I moved to another startup providing Solution Architecture services to Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and some well recognized Investment Banks.

The work culture was very intense but I learned a lot - they expect you to work hard. I was dealing with a lot of "what if" scenarios.

Q2. What were you up to prior to being the Product Manager at Survey Analytics?

Anup: Prior to Survey Analytics I was working at Loblaw again as a Solution Architect. Here is where I got my first exposure to the hybrid role I was playing - Solution Architecture + User Experience creating a large Personalized Loyalty program called PcPlus using Big Data from consumer purchase transactions.

I came in as a consultant to Survey Analytics and I was in charge of the integration architecture for Thales. Thales is a French multinational company that designs and builds electrical systems in aerospace and defense. They are also a top provider of in-flight entertainment (IFE). So, I helped to make our Mobile Feedback System compatible on the IFE for all flights. Typical surveys on the plane would be service related; either about food or drink service, or media information (i.e. is the movie okay, is the music selection good, what media are we lacking). It was easy market research, because the passengers were a captive audience stuck on a flight.

Q3: What is your new role at Survey Analytics and what do you aspire to do?

Anup: My new role includes 4 things  - "Product Manager", "Solution Architect", "UX" and "Growth Hacker"

Overall, my main goal is to increase acquisition and usage of our products.

Q4: What are your 3 strongest strengths? 

1. Communication - I think I am good at explaining complicated things.
2. Simplifying - taking a concept and breaking it down to it's true essence. 
3. Managing Technology and creating awesome solutions.

Q5: What are some of your favorite things and hobbies?

Anup: Reading is my favorite hobby. Lately I have been into fiction; I just started reading the Harry Potter series and so far it has been good. I like non-fiction too, as well as spiritual books on Buddhism. I had a large collection of books but I had to donate them before I moved from Canada from Austin. I left a lot of my belongings then. I also just learned to ski and really enjoy that.

Q6: Tell me a unique, interesting fact about yourself. 

Anup: I like Snickers bars, they are my favorite candy. I also like mayo on my burgers, although I stopped eating burgers.
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