“The growth of your team should never take a backseat” — Srivatsa’s mantra on becoming a successful leader

Meet Srivatsa Kandukuri, Business Head at Urban Company and currently leading the Spa and Men’s Grooming businesses.

Srivatsa joined us in January 2020 as a General Manager of the Homes Business and in 3 years has transcended to a Business Head. Born in Hyderabad, he spent all his childhood there before joining IIT Kharagpur for Engineering. Apart from work, he loves consuming OTT content and is a true binge-watcher — whether it is critically acclaimed movies or popular TV shows; he has seen it all.

Srivatsa Kandukuri, Business Head

Srivatsa is currently based out of Bengaluru. As a leader, he believes in trust and transparency and likes to set his team up for success via growth and learning.

Read on to understand how Srivatsa leads and motivates his team.

What was your journey to joining Urban Company, and how have you grown since joining?

My first professional stint, right after graduation, was with ITC Limited for about 5 years. First I was leading the Quality Assurance function and then the B2B International Sales function of the Spices Export Business which enabled me to travel extensively, interact and learn from people around the world.

In this period, a few of my peers and seniors at ITC had joined UC and would rave about the culture, exposure and the learning curve here. What I have realized upon interviewing and eventually joining UC is that they had still not done justice to how great a workplace UC is. I joined UC in Jan 2020, and I’ve been in awe of the company and the people ever since.

My first role at UC was that of a General Manager in the Homes Vertical, where I was leading operations for the Cleaning and Handymen businesses in the West cluster. I have donned multiple hats since then, like leading Growth and Experience for the Cleaning business through 2020, setting up the Cooks vertical in 2021, and currently leading the Spa and Men’s Grooming businesses.

Every role change came with a completely new and diverse set of learnings and challenges and I’m looking forward to many more!

What is something unique about your team here?

The team at UC has a staggeringly high concentration of talent, intent and ambition. And we operate in a very close knit manner, almost like a family.

All I can see around me are folks who like to be challenged intellectually, pursue ambitious goals relentlessly and get a huge rush out of substantial outcomes, while being empathetic and supportive of co-workers and peers. It is, sometimes, hard to believe that an exceptional team of this sort, that is so rare elsewhere, is not uncommon by any measure within UC.

Diwali celebrations in the Bengaluru office

What is the most common challenge that managers face while leading teams?

Working in a startup and while chasing ambitious milestones, it is not easy to ensure your team members are getting the right exposure and guidance that is setting them up for growth.

Structuring the right role which requires intellectual stretch on the part of the teammate, leading to his/her growth shouldn’t take a back seat. This should also be supplemented with spending time on sharply identifying areas of improvement and investing the right amount of time to groom team members in these areas.

This not only ensures professional development of the team members, but also creates leverage for the manager to progressively tackle larger and larger mandates and broader problem statements, and hence widen their own horizon.

Leadership off-site in Goa

What’s your Personal Mantra, and where did it come from?

  • Trust — By default I operate from a place of trust and give space to my team members to take cracks at their work streams/problem statements instead of getting involved in a high touch manner from the get go.
  • Transparency — I have always maintained that openness in all aspects of goal setting, improvement feedback and growth trajectory helps maintain confidence and trust of team members over the long run.

What is a piece of advice you give to new managers at Urban Company?

Keep expanding your horizon and create time to step back, retrospect and plan. It is easy to get caught in the flow of things and busy schedules, chasing short term objectives. However, in order to continue to better and outgrow yourself, it is important to spend a lot of time thinking deeply.

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The author of stories from inside Urban Company (owner of Engineering, Design & Culture blogs)