We’re passionate about the world of work, and how we can make it better. To help satisfy our curiosity, we’ve launched an interview series where we pick the brains of experienced leaders, business owners, managers, and individual contributors to get their thoughts on how we can collectively build better workplaces.
Join us in our next instalment below as Anjan Pathak—Co-Founder & CTO at Vantage Circle—shares his insights with us.
We’d love to get to know you a bit better, tell us a bit about your backstory.
I am a software engineer and I have spent most of my working life in the UK. I mostly designed and developed web-based applications and was always looking to start something in my area of expertise.
Being a North-East Indian, where there is a lot of talent but very few opportunities, I wanted to start something here. Having worked in multiple countries for a very long period, I always thought that the talent pool in this part of the world was rarely used.
I was back in my homeland in 2013. Then I, along with Partha, initiated the idea of starting an employee engagement platform that will help organizations retain their top talents and enhance employee engagement and productivity in the workplace.
With Partha and I, having worked in the IT and technology industry for almost two decades, we were confident that it was where we could benefit from utilizing our expertise while achieving the goal of using digital technology for engaging the modern workforce.
We started out as a deals and discounts program for employees during our early days. The main idea was to equip HR professionals with a channel through which they could provide a stellar employee experience.
We were able to create, launch, and reach the success that Vantage Circle has today due to the right opportunities, guidance, and ideas implemented at the right time. With the team’s support, clients, and valuable users, Vantage Circle has achieved organizational success by reaching a 1.8 million users milestone. From nothing to almost 2 million has been a journey of trust, belief, and sheer teamwork.
Vantage Circle likes to believe in miracles, miracles of hard work, and promises. Vantage Circle plans to expand to more countries aggressively and capture a broader market considering mid-segment companies in the coming days. We do believe in having a diverse approach. Thus, we aim to expand our business in Latin American countries and make our brand accessible to people worldwide. We intend to make our brand multilingual to cater to the diverse Indian audience and internationally.
If we were to ask a friend to describe your personality to us, what would they say?
This is quite an interesting question. Because, if you wanted to know about me from my friends’ perspective, they would be the best to answer. But, as far as I know, my friends should agree with my statement.
In my opinion, my friends would like to introduce me with adjectives like authentic, responsible, and hardworking. I am someone who has a zeal for life, a fitness enthusiast, and an ardent leader who likes to walk hand-in-hand rather than climb the ladder of success alone.
I have taken immense responsibility from an early stage in life, and my friends have witnessed it. They can’t deny this trait, and I have remained dependable on many occasions. I guess this would be the best they know of me.
Thinking back to your career journey, what’s an interesting story that stands out?
I have always been a fitness fanatic and I am very fortunate to work with a team that shares my enthusiasm. That is why the Vantage Fit app has always been a passion project for the team at Vantage Circle.
Our team's enthusiasm for health and fitness translated into an obsession with how to make Vantage Fit even better than before. That is why, when we formed our machine learning team, we decided that the first project had to involve Vantage Fit.
At the time, Vantage Fit was an outlier in its own right, offering an all-in-one corporate wellness platform when the norm was just a step counter or a nutrition-intake tracker. So, that’s when our team decided to run some AI-based experimentations through which we could take the Vantage Fit app to the next level. That’s where we learned how the corporate wellness industry is an undervalued sector with hundreds of chances to invest in and grow.
One of the things we discovered during our testing is that capturing an up and down movement, i.e., the very fundamentals of a squat, is a simple feature that we can easily incorporate into our Vantage Fit app. And that’s why we decided to go ahead and include it in the upcoming product update. But what we didn’t anticipate was the amazing response we got for this feature.
One of the most memorable days for us was in 2019 when Apple recognized our creativity with the Vantage Fit app and invited us to attend the App Accelerator session.
We were asked to show what we'd done so far and discuss our next steps for taking the app to the next level. It was undoubtedly a pivotal moment that confirmed that we were on the right track with Vantage Fit.
What’s the most impactful lesson you've learned over your career thus far?
Entrepreneurship is an everyday learning process, and learning is an upward curve that helps you learn from your mistakes.Anjan Pathak
During the initial stages of Vantage Circle’s inception, I learned something very important. It is choosing the right tools for mobile app development that could have helped us become more user-friendly and accessible to a fast-paced audience.
Also, never ignore your marketing efforts. Two years ago, we did not know the value of marketing, and it deprived us of reaching our niche audience as effectively as possible with the implementation of the right marketing tactics.
Nevertheless, these were the technical aspects that leaders and employers will learn eventually with a trial and error method. But, the main lesson remains valid, which is nurturing a culture of “employee first.”
As an employer, you must work towards creating an equitable workplace culture where employee concerns and happiness are your prime goals.Anjan Pathak
When you respect every employee for who and what they are and judge them only on their skills and not their identity, you become a diverse and inclusive workplace that helps attract and retain top talents in the company.
Thanks for giving us some insight into who you are! Let’s jump into things. When you hear the phrase “build a better world of work”, what comes to mind?
If I were to answer this question honestly, I would like to relate to Rajiv Talreja’s words when he compared today’s working population with our ancestors from the industrial revolution and the information revolution.
During the industrial process, people merely worked for survival regardless of working conditions. Then came the information revolution, which was the kickstart of the IT industry, where people wanted a better standard of living.
The new generation or the social revolution period focuses on quality of life because the former things have been taken care of.
The digital generation, the millennial workforce, and Gen-Z workers focus on improving their quality of life mentally, physically, and emotionally. They are forward, accepting, and have zero tolerance towards discrimination, oppression, or biases.
Thus, to “build a better world of work,” we must progress with time.
Right from the hiring stage, you must focus on recruiting people from all backgrounds, races, gender, sexualities, ages, etc. And you must treat every employee equally, from rewards and recognition to training opportunities to appraisals.
We must start by being vocal about our recruitment process and how we support equal employment over social media and career pages. Also, organizing periodic diversity training and celebrating events like Mother’s day, Pride Month, Black History Month in the workplace can definitely build a better and unprejudiced workplace culture.
Doing so helps promote an enhanced workplace culture that is equitable, equal, fair, and unbiased.
For you, what’s the main blocker you see as standing in the way of building a better world of work?
As I said earlier, the digital or social generation focuses on quality over quantity as they are the “woke” generation who believe in the idea of equality.Anjan Pathak
The social generation employees do not want to be judged based on their identity but rather on their skills and performances.
But, some of the leaders and workers from the older generation and privileged strata come with set prejudices and social conditioning. Such prejudices, biases, and discrimination stand as a blocker in building a better world of work.
Also, not recognizing employees enough for their efforts is a barrier.
When you promote the culture of employee recognition, especially peer recognition, it boosts employee motivation, which drives your workforce towards productivity and engagement.
The easiest and prominent way to promote peer recognition at work is by implementing a robust and agile digital rewards and recognition platform like Vantage Circle. It allows instant and on-spot recognition for mentors, colleagues and leaders for every significant accomplishment. It is digital, evident, and easily-shareable on various social media platforms. This garners attention, credibility and a culture of appreciation at work.
What’s one thing within our control that we can practically do to build a better world of work today? And, how do you recommend going about it?
If I were to answer this question personally, I believe the one thing within our control we can do to build a better world of work is CHANGE.
Change is inevitable, but that inevitability needs to come from within.
Only when we change our mindset toward a particular thing or culture, race, or anything for that matter, is when we can expect our workplaces to change progressively.Anjan Pathak
If you were to ask me how we can go about it, I would say there are multiple ways. The most efficient is conducting learning and development opportunities. Organize training sessions and allow everyone to be a part of them. Focus the training on diversity, inclusion, skill development, cultural appreciation, and anti-discrimination/harassment policies.
The second effective way is our in-house approach, which is practicing equal digital rewards and recognition within your company. Promote the importance of peer recognition as it helps enhance management and communication.
Happy and dignified employees run a happy and productive work environment.
Can you share one thing you’ve experienced, seen, or read about that leads us towards a better world of work?
Employee engagement is something that we preach about and actively practice in our company.
We use the in-house Rewards and Recognition platform to maintain our engagement efforts, and there is active participation throughout our organization. Thanks to the social feed, everyone is connected and can see who is being recognized for their contributions. On top of that, we consistently recognize and reward our employees monthly for their exceptional efforts and dedication.
Our efforts to automate the recognition process have been aided by the wish feature, allowing employees to recognize one another without difficulty.
One important distinction is that we do not maintain a hierarchical structure in which only managers have the authority to recognize or reward employees. Everyone in the organization can appreciate one another, which has greatly aided us in increasing employee engagement levels.
I’m curious, thinking about building a better world of work, is there a company and/or leader who stands out to you as someone we should follow? If so, what are they up to?
The corporate world has witnessed many global leaders who built their names from scratch. Some of the leaders of our generation who inspired us would be people like N. R. Narayan Murty of Infosys and Ratan Tata of Tata group. Many people would follow the leaders of their choice, and I am no different from anyone.
I would like to believe that I am self-made and I like to build things from scratch. The help of a great partner like Partha and my team helped me reach the position I'm in today.
So, people can follow whoever they want to, each their own. But, the best leader is within you. When you’re destined, dedicated, and focused, you’re your leader, who would only climb higher in the world of corporate success.
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