Postmates VP Akshay Thakor Joins Turing as SVP of Operations
Akshay Thakor has joined Turing as SVP Operations. Most recently, Akshay was VP of Business Operations at Postmates, where he was instrumental in building the infrastructure and community that fueled Postmates’ growth and ultimate acquisition by Uber.
In his new role at Turing, Akshay will lead our global operations team and all activities related to our developer community of more than 400,000 international software engineers.
By way of introduction, we recently interviewed Akshay about his new role and the reasons he joined Turing.
Turing: Hi Akshay. I’d like to start by asking you what attracted you to Turing?
Akshay: The first thing to attract me to Turing is our core mission and the vision we are trying to achieve. The idea of helping talented developers worldwide and matching them with amazing job opportunities across Silicon Valley is very purposeful and empowering. Across the globe, you have software developers who are looking to find ways to step up in their careers. Giving them opportunities to work on important projects, to earn more, to choose their own path can be very significant. We can have a positive impact on the lives of very talented people.
The other key attraction for me at Turing was the opportunity to solve a real pain point — hiring strong software developers in Silicon Valley is difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. And hiring them at scale is an even bigger challenge. I believe Turing is solving this problem in an elegant and unique manner by using AI and machine learning to build an intelligent talent cloud. They are essentially re-inventing the traditional IT services and staffing industry and building an AWS for Talent!
Lastly, I was impressed by the Turing executive team – a set of amazing and passionate folks who are experts in their domain. It’s a diverse group with different backgrounds who each bring a unique perspective and unique values. That’s the secret sauce when you figure out a company you want to work with or an idea you want to scale.
Turing: At Postmates, you were able to change an entire market or maybe even create one. That seems to tie in nicely with how you see Turing evolving. So how do you think that experience will carry over to what you will be doing here at Turing?
Akshay: Yes, you are spot on about Postmates creating markets as we were the first food delivery app in the US when we launched in 2011. We were able to innovate and create many firsts in the market; something I am extremely proud of. That experience was instrumental in developing my approach to thinking about every problem from a customer’s perspective. The ability to identify and acknowledge problems, figuring out creative solutions that address those pain points, and then launching solutions that scale effectively is what I am really good at.
And that skill translates perfectly at Turing. It will allow me to build our developer platform as we scale it globally. Today, the solutions that worked for hiring software engineers 20 years ago are redundant and have neither seen any innovation nor are they adapting to the changing landscape of remote work. And that’s why we, at Turing, are re-imagining those problems and their solutions. We need those solutions to be innovative and operate at scale for our customers as well as developers. This is where I can bring a lot of value and create one of the most impactful companies of the next decade. I am looking forward to working with the entire Turing team and creating something huge and impactful, something we will look back and be extremely proud of.
Turing: You make it sound very exciting! Tell us a bit about your specific responsibilities. What areas will you be driving into?
Akshay: My core responsibilities will be focused on two areas. First is to manage and lead global operations across Turing. A business of our scale is a combination of tech plus operations and I want to ensure that both work hand-in-hand as we scale our company. We are a remote-first company and will continue to build a global team, especially across LatAm, Africa, Europe, and Asia.
My second and most important area of focus is to build, grow and lead our global developer platform. I am responsible for creating and driving a holistic approach to our developer ecosystem while building a thriving, engaging community. Key questions for me are — how do they think about Turing? How do we make Turing the best place for a developer to work at? How do we engage with them such that they become our strongest advocate? How do we ensure they have a WOW experience on our platform and become our evangelists?
We believe the Turing platform is very empowering to developers. It gives them the ability to grow their careers on their own terms, to work on the projects they love. And it’s a very sustainable way for developers to work without having to continuously look for their next job.
I’m responsible for ensuring Turing continues to grow and scale its developer ecosystem so we can continue to meet our customers’ needs, while also engaging our developers so as to make them feel valued and proud to be a part of the Turing community.
Turing: As you think about your first year here at Turing, what are a couple of things you hope to accomplish?
Akshay: That’s a great question. The first thing I want to accomplish is to examine all of our existing systems and make sure we have the right processes in place to set us up for success as we continue to scale. For fast scaling startups, the Japanese concept of Kaizen – continuous improvement – is very critical. We always need to push ourselves to be better, hire the right people and set up scalable processes. That will be an important area of focus for me in the first year.
In parallel, my goal will be to set up a mid-to-long-term vision for my teams and ensure that we can see a path for us to get to it. The key questions for me are — How do we articulate a vision that motivates and drives our team? What foundations do we need to build to achieve that vision? How can we accelerate the process and get there faster? How can we make sure our customers and our developers have the most amazing experience? What are the building blocks we need to achieve our longer-term vision?
These are important questions that a business leader needs to constantly think about. We need to listen to our customers, to our developers, and understand their needs. It is really important to be connected to your customers and obsessively focusing on customer service.
Turing: What do you see as some of the big opportunities for Turing over the next few years.
Akshay: Turing’s ability to scale and grow our global developer community is one of our most impactful and meaningful propositions. There are exceptionally talented people across the globe, but there aren’t enough opportunities for them. We empower them to build their own career paths and give them the freedom to work across top companies. What we need to realize is the impact this has on local communities and how it allows talented developers to uplevel their economic situation. They are able to earn more and work with some of the best companies across the world while working from their home and local geography. Imagine this at a vast global scale and the positive impact it can create. Imagine as we expand our business to providing training, internships, and skill enhancement programs to a diverse set of age groups. Imagine how empowering it can be from a social, cultural, and economic perspective. That is the mission for Turing, and it’s our biggest opportunity.
Another area that I deeply value is our core technical platform — our AI-driven talent cloud — that is not only unique but also critical for us to scale. We are a tech-first company, and what we are building is innovative. Our intelligent vetting and matching algorithm uses a blend of data science and machine learning; something that hasn’t been done before at our scale within our industry. And we use it to find an ideal match between our customers and developers. Over time, as we continue to invest in our technology, it will be our biggest differentiator and will create a plethora of opportunities for us.
Turing: One final question. One of Turing’s values is continuous learning. So we ask every new team member, what is the one course you would like to teach and how would you go about teaching it?
Akshay: A very interesting question. There are two answers to this — one is a work-related course and the other is a fun, personal course. For the first one, I would like to teach a course on effective communication. I believe it is an important skill that is immensely valuable but not a strong point for a lot of folks, especially young professionals. I have been fortunate to learn a lot from my past experience as a consultant to Fortune 500 CXOs and at Postmates. The course would focus on how to be an effective storyteller so that you create empathy with your audience, align with your stakeholders, and provide clarity to your team.
As part of my personal hobby, I am passionate about Japanese comic art, Manga, and its televised adaptation, Anime. They have some amazing stories, brilliant artwork and are extremely popular across the globe, especially in the US. I would love to teach a course on the history of anime in the US and how it got popular across some genres. I believe that would be a unique and fun course for people to learn more about this global phenomenon.
Turing: I’m sure you’ll have a lot of interest in both courses. Thank you Akshay, and welcome to Turing.