By Yamini Rangan, Chief Customer Officer & Incoming CEO at HubSpot
The last few weeks at HubSpot have been a whirlwind as we announced that Brian Halligan will return stronger than ever as our Executive Chairman, and that I’ll become CEO of HubSpot on September 7th, 2021. Our HubSpot employees have gotten to know me as I ran day-to-day operations for the company the last six months, but chances are many people who have known HubSpot for a long time don’t yet know me as well as they do Brian and Dharmesh.
So, let’s try to get to know one another a little better.
When Brian Halligan first called me to offer me the CEO role on behalf of HubSpot’s Board of Directors, I was speechless. Then I cried as I was overwhelmed with emotions. Growing up as a little girl in a rural town in the South of India, I had big dreams. But I never imagined I would get the opportunity to lead a world class organization like HubSpot as the CEO, and I couldn’t be more honored and excited. My goal is to be the leader HubSpot deserves, and to write this next chapter with lots of help, collaboration, support, and input from HubSpotters, partners and customers around the world.
To help people understand what they can expect from me as HubSpot’s new CEO, here are five things that are core to who I am as a leader, along with a few stories to help you get to know me a bit better.
I grew up the youngest of two girls during a time in India where girls were taught to be seen, not heard. My mom always believed my sister and I could do anything. She moved us to a new city just so we could finish our high school education, and spent dinners showing us pictures of the first Indian female pilot, the first female lawyer to break the glass ceiling, and countless other examples of women breaking barriers. Early on, I had an ambitious sense of what was possible thanks to her, for which I will always be grateful. Because of her, I believe that one person can change the trajectory of your life, so I always want to lead as someone who does that for others.
After studying engineering in India and at Clemson, I ended up pursuing my MBA. I graduated in a really tough economic market, so I took a job in product marketing. Except when I got there, the job was actually in value sales. Instead of complaining, I rolled up my sleeves. It turns out having a background in sales and engineering has helped me understand critical parts of a scaling organization and how to adapt and grow as a leader early on in my career. Since then, I’ve done stints in operations, strategy, product, general management, and pretty much everything in between. What I love most is solving hard problems with great people, and I loved from the start that one of HubSpot’s values aligns so deeply with my own.
I read a lot of Nancy Drew growing up, and briefly considered being a detective before landing in the world of business. That’s because I love learning about all the details of something, identifying patterns, and figuring out what to do with the information at hand. One of the things I admire most about Brian and Dharmesh is that they make learning a core competency at HubSpot. A mentor of mine, Carl Eschenbach, taught me that asking questions is more important than having answers, and that’s a value that I really hope to bring to bear leading HubSpot.
When I first became a people manager, I applied the same logic that I did to being an individual contributor. Faster, smarter, better, and finish things early with time to spare. Needless to say, it didn’t work, and I got a lot of tough feedback. Since then, I take feedback on leadership very seriously — I learn from my mistakes, I listen to the opinions of people who work with and for me, and I embrace imperfection. My team at HubSpot knows me as a leader, but also as a very proud mom, sister, daughter, wife, friend, yoga fan, and aspiring sommelier and terrible drummer. I’m imperfect at everything I do, but always learning from what I can do better or differently.
It’s no surprise given that I started as HubSpot’s Chief Customer Officer that I believe customers are mission critical to every company. At many organizations, listening to customers is a seasonal trend or one-off initiative. At HubSpot, I want customers to be an integral part of our operating system as a company. That means our Voice of the Customer, Partner Advisory Council, NPS Slack channel, and ‘follow me home visits’ are not an afterthought, but rather a cornerstone of how we market, sell, service, support, and build products our customers truly love. I’ve worked in the CRM space for decades, and one thing that’s never been lost on me is that people are betting their careers on the decision to recommend your software. That responsibility is meaningful to me, and I want us to ensure that every element of a customer’s interaction with us makes them proud to use, recommend, and promote HubSpot.
In my first few months at HubSpot, I visited our teams in Cambridge and in Dublin, and did a remote office visit with our incredible full time remote HubSpotters. My plan was to get to all of our other locations in my first six months, but the pandemic had other plans. During a global pandemic, HubSpot’s leadership team came together to support our customers, partners, and employees when they needed it most. After Brian’s accident, the entire organization rallied to ensure he could focus on his recovery. We are a team and a company that embodies resilience and empathy, and I hope in my role as CEO to be the leader HubSpot deserves — listening, learning and always growing.
I look forward to getting to know you all better, and to writing the next chapter of HubSpot’s story with Brian, Dharmesh and HubSpotters globally.