“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”, said Shakespeare, truly knowing that you come on the stage, play your part and make an exit when you are done.
Sreedevi Kaimal, also known as ‘Sree’, picked up and adapted to this ideology early on in her life. True to the famous words mentioned above, Sree has played several ‘roles’ throughout her career across sales, strategy, and customer engagement. Her last role at Locus as Vice President – Customer Success (Global) saw her being responsible for strategic & tactical expansion, retention & growth globally across the company’s growing customer base. As she now prepares to move into her next role Vice President- Growth, she will focus on equipping both internal and external teams with the necessary market and product insights to accelerate revenue at Locus. Working closely with Product, Marketing, Sales, Solutions and Customer Success, her team will map and track the customer life cycle to identify the ideal customer profile (ICP), assess product-market fit and create bespoke cadences for every customer that engages with Locus. Team Locus caught up with her to know what makes her click.
Where it all began
A passionate thespian, a swift athlete, an artistic calligraphist — she is a jack of all trades.
As part of growing up in a family that relocated every few years, Sree was exposed to new environments and cultures that helped her shape her passion for travel and ability to adapt to change fairly quickly.
Having a heart of a true ‘Mumbaikar’ by virtue of being born in Mumbai, Maharashtra, and with the ‘Nawabi’ flamboyance of a Hyderabad where she spent most of her teenage years, Sree is the epitome of resilience, determination and level-headedness in the face of crisis.
Her ability to roll up her sleeves to play different roles when the need arises in order to get things done stems from her exposure to theatre and drama during her formative years in Hyderabad. Remembering her theatre days, Sree told us that she spent a lot of time reading Shakespeare — Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream, and many other plays.
She once had the opportunity to play Julius Caesar and thinks it’s incredible how Shakespeare writes about the core elements of grief, betrayal, love, family and conveys it so beautifully through his characters. She also said, “One play I’ve always wanted to be a part of is Hamlet. It is one of the most interesting plays and has been on top of my list. From monologues to complicated plots and emotions, the play is pure magic.”
Today, Sree may be the face of Locus for customers, but it’s not known to many that being in a corporate set-up was not her first career choice. She very much dreamt of joining the Indian Armed Forces; for all the adventure, prestige, passion and valor it had to offer. Unfortunately, back in the day, the Short Service Commission scheme only allowed eligible women to serve for a brief period of five years. This made her rethink her long-term goals, and she had to let go of her desire to join the Armed Forces while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Commerce (Honors) in Hyderabad.
With her core instinct to work through problems and find possible solutions, she decided to take up Chartered Accountancy (CA) whilst completing her degree in Bachelor of Commerce. A couple of years into her CA stint, she commenced her articleship (an internship program) in the office of an established CA. But, the very nature of articleship made her realize that she wanted to do something beyond just accounting and tax filings and work in a role that was more customer-centric and people-focused.
An iconic career journey kickstarts
Soon afterward, Sree started her job at Google Inc., where she spent a substantial seven and a half years navigating through a number of customer-facing roles, including setting up teams in the APAC region, project management, and vendor management to name a few.
Sree is an avid reader and loves to read about the art, culture, and history of different countries and continents. She traveled extensively during her sting at Google Inc. and engaged with mult-cultural and diverse teams across locations.
This love for travel and experiencing various cultures has stood her in good stead in her various roles at Locus. “New Zealand and Africa are two places on my wish list. Hopefully, once we move into a more ‘normal’ post-COVID 19 world, I’d be able to cover both,” she said when asked about where she’d love to travel to next.
At Google Inc., Sree was a part of some large projects such as the Black Friday campaign and the US elections campaign.
“I was a part of the core elections campaign team where people from across the globe were brought together to support the Presidential elections in 2012. I was in DC and worked closely with the political system and senate members. In my role, I had to ensure campaigns were not in violation of policies and sentiments of the public. During this campaign, I worked with people from Marketing to Legal to Sales to CXOs and External Senators too. The relationships I built during the project still continue to date,” she says when reflecting on her experiences.
“Fun fact — I was amongst the only people to receive an appreciation email from the offices of the then-president, Barack Obama, and other candidates,” she added.
Sree soon felt that it was time to exit and enter into the next phase of her career. And then, Locus happened!
Locus gets its first non-tech member
In 2015, Locus approached her to be the face of the company for client interactions, customer onboarding, and business affairs. Unclear about the specifics of her role at the time, given that Locus was still just a budding start-up then, Sree decided to take the plunge. Sree was one of the first few founding members at Locus and also the first non-tech member at the company!
Since the beginning Sree has played a phenomenal role in setting up Locus for success. She has seen the company grow and flourish from a start-up to an enterprise technology provider it is today!
Her former role at Locus as the Vice President of Customer Success went beyond customer engagement and strengthening customer relationships. In Locus’ early years, Sree played a pivotal role in building long-standing, sustainable business relationships, helping enterprises solve supply chain challenges with futuristic logistics technology, and making every customer journey with the brand smooth, successful and memorable.
In her new role as VP- Growth, Sree will contribute further towards Locus’ continued success by streamlining customer-facing interactions for higher revenue generation.
“It is during the scaling-up phase that most enterprises feel the dire need for optimization, and that’s where technology like Locus comes in handy.”
“When a business grows, it seeks more consistency, efficiency, and optimization in its day-to-day operations. Locus’ tech offerings in ‘route planning’ or ‘last-mile visibility’ or even geocoding are extremely helpful in bringing these key elements to a supply chain and enable easy scaling up and expansion of operations,” she stated.
Speaking of what she likes about her work and what keeps her motivated, Sree said, “A large part of my work is customer-centric, supported by a diverse and skilled team and backed by a great product. On top of it, we have clients out there who are equally excited to solve their operational challenges with us, and are enthusiastic about working out synergies with Locus. It is the single most important factor that keeps me going and makes me want to get out of bed every day.”
But being the face of a brand is not always easy and has its own set of challenges.
“Transparency and honesty is the number one thumb rule to customer success. Engaging with customers in a collaborative way, and enabling them to benefit from our tech is the best way to build long-term client relationships.”
Sree said, “We have been privileged to work with some of the best clients, who are highly supportive and are keen to experiment with logistics tech. But at the same time, building an initial sense of trust when a client is freshly onboarded is tricky, and expectation management can sometimes be difficult. I absolutely believe that being transparent with the customers from the get-go, working in a collaborative manner, and treating them more like partners and less like customers develops mutual trust and understanding, and helps in resolving issues such as delays/downtimes much more easily.”
Some virtues stick around forever
To remain constantly productive, some run on caffeine, and some on discipline! Sree’s number one mantra for productivity is staying organized and ensuring effective prioritization of work.
“I live off calendars and filters. Staying organized keeps me productive and sane at work.”
In her free time, she likes to indulge in hobbies and leisure reading, and tries to disconnect from work at the end of every day to maintain a work-life balance, and says it keeps her from burning out.
In life, inspiration can be found anywhere, and Sree firmly believes in it. A lot of inspiration and good qualities can be found in the simple things in life. From her erstwhile managers who taught her to be a perfectionist to her present team that fights together and doesn’t give up even on a difficult day at work, she tries to get inspired by everyone around her!
Honesty, integrity, accountability and humility are at the core of customer success, and Sree lives by these virtues. Her key influencer, her father, breathed these qualities and had a key role in shaping her personality during her formative years.
“It’s important to give your best and strive to be the best in whatever you do while being humble, honest, and helpful. You should always take pride in what you do, never stop learning, be observant and never hesitate to be surrounded by others who are smarter and better than you,” she remembers her father’s valuable piece of advice, which she practices every day at work, and in life.