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It’s an incredible time to be at RingCentral. As businesses, companies, and enterprises reimagine the workplace, communication takes center stage as the bridge that connects humans to one another. By offering multimode cloud communications and collaborations solutions, with its industry-leading MVP (Message, Video, Phone) offering, RingCentral is at the forefront of this transformation that enables anyone to truly work from anywhere.
The opportunity to join a purpose-led organization in addition to the potential for hyper growth is what brought Senior Vice President and Chief Accounting Officer Vaibhav Agarwal to RingCentral. In his role, he leads the global accounting and finance operations and plays a key role in setting the company’s strategy and priorities.
Agarwal believes that leadership comes only with a change in the status-quo mindset and his personal experiences influenced his strategy of building a scalable finance function.
Hiring Without Ego
“As Simon Sinek would say, ‘You don’t hire for skills; you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.’ This seemed to explain my approach to hiring,” Agarwal says. “We focus on hiring people with a shared vision and growth mindset. We want to hire people with relevant experience, people who can grow and scale the company, who will have problem-solving skills and the passion to drive outcomes.
“Once you hire the right people, it’s also about empowering them to do their job right,” he continues. “As a leader, the best thing you do is unleash them and help remove roadblocks. You let them shine and the business outcomes take care of themselves.”
Building and maintaining a high-performing finance team in the Bay Area is about as competitive as it gets. But Agarwal says it’s the opportunities and flexibility at RingCentral that have helped set a standard for forward momentum in the space.
“We are laser focused on helping people grow and develop in their careers at RingCentral. I want RingCentral to continue being a place where people can come in and do their best work while still learning and having avenues for growth,” he says.
The chief accounting officer recounts several examples of finance professionals who wanted more experience in different areas and were able to thrive in roles that would have been hard to come by in other organizations.
“I am here because people gave me opportunities,” Agarwal explains. “I want to make sure that everyone who works with me gets the same opportunities I did. People are not motivated by money alone—they also want to work in an environment where they feel acknowledged for their work and feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Additionally, Agarwal says, it’s imperative to recognize great performance. “I believe very strongly in letting people know that they’ve done great work and giving credit where credit is due,” he notes. “In my mind, there is no greater motivation for people than recognition.”
Agarwal’s last piece of advice is an adage, which he truly embodies but it still seems like the hardest to follow for most of corporate America. The role of a leader is very simple: hire people with a great attitude, set direction, and then move hurdles. “Often, leadership can result in a paradox,” Agarwal says. “To lead, you must, at times, be led by your people.”
Finance at the Table
Agarwal says part of his own success at RingCentral can be attributed to the company’s intentionally prioritizing finance in larger strategy and planning. Agarwal attributes this to CFO Mitesh Dhruv, who has provided finance a more prominent seat at the strategic table than he was typically used to.
His own leadership is a vital part of finance’s success at RingCentral and why the team is so valued at the company. “I believe it’s called ruthless prioritization,” Agarwal says. “You have to identify where you can make the greatest impact for the company and approach it with a laser focus on execution.”
“The level of engagement here is very different,” he continues. “We’ve cultivated a reputation as strategic enablers, and not the clichéd ‘naysayers’ reputation that lands on a lot of finance people.”
Since Agarwal came to RingCentral, its market cap and revenues have increased tremendously. RingCentral now has revenues of more than $1.5 billion and is helping chart the next definition of “going to work.” It’s an extraordinary time to be a leader at RingCentral, and Agarwal wants to make sure that his team is growing in as many new ways as RingCentral itself.
Thoughts from Guest Editor Susan Pikitch
“You are not just given a seat at the table; you must earn it. And Vaibhav Agarwal has. He challenges the status quo and advises leadership, not only on what to do, but also, what not to do. His strategic mindset, coupled with a keen eye for talent and a laser focus on execution, has given the finance organization at RingCentral a valued seat at the table.”
Read features from the Issue 4 2021 Finance section, which include commentary from Guest Editor Susan Pikitch.
“Vaibhav is a visionary and a critical constituent in our engagements with RingCentral. It was great to experience firsthand his collaborative leadership style and ability to develop transformational ideas to effortlessly deliver value throughout the company. He’s a true partner advocating for both RingCentral’s and Synthesis’ mutual success.”
—Ravin Checker, CEO