Shyamal Kumar in “THE TRAILBLAZERS: CEO’s” of Influence 2022
Shyamal Kumar is a data networking product leader, and a visionary in the technology business of today. He has led several platforms spanning data center, enterprise, and service provider networks. Shyamal is extremely passionate about embracing SDN and cloud technologies to bring simplicity and performance to data networks. Together with his team, he has brought to the market world-class SD-WAN products. Under his supreme guidance and supervision, Lavelle Networks has built some of the world’s largest SD-WAN rollouts in digital transformation projects in a record time of weeks. Shyamal is a graduate of BITS, Pilani and has been in the data networking space for the last 18 years leading products at Tata Elxsi, Juniper Networks, Inkra Networks, Telsima Communications, Riverstone Networks, NetContinuum and Versa Networks, among other companies. He is one of those few individuals whose strive for excellence has no bounds. He is a seeker and learner and empowers everyone around him to seek and learn.
THE DAWN OF SHYAMAL’S CAREER
Shyamal chose software over many other career options because he fell in love with the whole process of building great software and technology applications. Shyamal always knew that software and technology would play an extremely important role in shaping the future. While twenty years back it was a much smaller industry, today as we can see, the software has taken over every aspect of our lives. He is zealous and bullish on the road ahead in software, especially in the age of cloud and SaaS, where physical infrastructure no longer limits the power of the software we can build and serve. Shyamal was tempted to continue working for other global major corporations and just manage a large software product or team. But the opportunity to disrupt in the home market, and the vision to enable enterprises across India with the best networking technology possible, kept him and his team awake on many nights, and they decided that they will charter this unchartered path, from 2015 till today and achieve greatness. Although it has been seven years of building their company, their drive remains as focused today as it was back then. In fact, with the recent transformational partnership with Airtel, they are now getting ready to serve thousands of customers, growing rapidly using the foundation of their current 100+ customers. He has been working with software technology since 2000–when he saw the first start-up team at Net Continuum. It changed everything he had known before. He saw a small team of skilled, committed engineers take on huge industry giants and realized the power of a few people who believe in a cause and vision. He has been in half a dozen start-ups since then, and finally building his own now. In between, he has also spent time building the Juniper MX platform, which is a world-leading network solution today across all markets. He is fortunate to work with networking and the Internet, and he truly believes that after the fire, the wheel, electricity, the telephone, and the computer, the next big invention of mankind is simply–IP networks & The Internet.
HIS IDEALS AND GOALS
The most important goal for him is to excel in his God-given abilities. Shyamal believes that all of us are blessed with certain strengths, whether people can explain it via DNA, life influences, education influences, social influences. He feels that it doesn’t matter how we get our strengths, what matters is what we do with them. As an individual and a professional, Shyamal strives to be the best version of himself every single day. Not the best version of someone else, but the best version of himself. The next important goal in his life is to have integrity and honesty in all his relationships personal and professional. Integrity in everything we do. He feels that everyone can make mistakes, stumble like everyone else does in life, but he cherishes the ability to identify his mistake, and take the corrective actions–whether it means apologizing, changing a habit, or getting help from a coach for long-term improvements.
HIS SOURCE OF INSPIRATION
Shyamal is most inspired by leaders who have selflessly devoted themselves to the cause and vision of their lives. There is no single person who comes to his mind. He follows the lives of several leaders who have shown him how we can make a difference in our life. He deeply trusts his faith in God, and Shyamal believes that He is always his eternal inspiration to help him move forward despite any challenge life throws at him. With this faith and belief, he moves forward every day.
HIS ADVICE TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF WORLD LEADERS
Shyamal believes that the most important thing is to seek excellence. Your business, company or product is a way for you to become better at what you do or were born to do. The end goal is to become the best person who can build that business to its fullest potential. He urges the youth to benchmark against themselves so that they are not disappointed by near term challenges, ups and downs, or how the world would measure them. The world will keep changing its standards depending on the trend of the day, but they should not change the standards that they use for themselves. He asks them to be accountable to themselves, and take growth seriously. Shyamal says “In today’s world, it might not be possible to have perfect work-life balance, but always be aware of your priorities so that you can use your time well. I put my faith, then my health, then my family, my profession, and then my friends and personal pursuits in that order of priority. So, when I am pressed for time, I know where to compromise and where to focus and deliver. Time is limited, and your life’s mission comes with an expiry date, so spend your time well.” Seek excellence, and spend your time well–these are the two main things he would advise younger people to aspire for.
HIS GREATEST STRENGTH
His greatest strength is the ability to connect the dots. He is a voracious reader, learner and thinker. He is always trying to learn something, improve something, asking someone to teach him something. This creates a wide knowledge base in his mind, and he is good at connecting these dots for amazing results in product, technology and company. To remain ahead as an innovation-driven start-up, this ability is extremely important. He believes that to be able to conceive the right requirement for a product at the right time, and to be able to deliver with the right team capabilities, is an art and not a science. And he is excited about the fact that his enormous appetite for knowledge and learning, and the ability to imagine the impossible, has helped them remain ahead of the curve as a company.
HIS ROLE IN THE ENTERPRISE
Lavelle Networks build networking software for wide area networks. They call the space SD- WAN–Software-Defined Wide Area Networks. It’s the technology that connects enterprise users in branch offices to their company’s software applications. They keep their customer networks running at the highest speed possible, in the safest manner possible. As everyone is aware, without a working data network, almost no productivity is possible in a modern business. He is the CEO, and he focuses a lot on building value in the product for our customers. He has a ringside view of all their customers, their needs and challenges, so he leverages his role to channel all of his insights into engineering and support teams so that they can always provide the best technology at the best price and service levels to their customers. Their major accomplishments are scale & performance. They have built some very large networks in India, from 2017–to date. They run the nation’s second-largest public sector bank network, the largest e-commerce network, and several other top enterprise networks on our platform. They have been ranked by Gartner, Microsoft, Intel, Dell and Google as a top technology provider for our market. They are also one of the largest business successes of the “Make In India” program from the government.
THRIVING IN THE PANDEMIC
They took immediate steps to safeguard all our team members, even if it meant hurting their business financials. They responsibly reduced costs and doubled down their focus on existing customers whose businesses were expanding in this time, like banking and e-commerce. They were patient and loyal to their customers who were having a tough time because of the pandemic–like retail chains and hospitality outlets. They went into a 100% work from home environment, and introduced tools in all aspects of the business, to keep up the productivity. They did more online events than ever before to keep our employees together and stay in touch with them. Their business teams faced the stiffest hurdles due to travel constraints and unpredictable lockdowns impacting business meeting schedules. Their operations teams were challenged by the multiple slowdowns in logistics and shipping, and they do a lot of hardware shipments across the nation, so it was tough. Staying transparent with the team on their business challenges, unwavering focus on our customers, and honest communication to keep up the team morale helped them see through this unprecedented global challenge.