Actifio is chock full of talented people. To showcase some of the amazing talent we have here, Actifio will highlight a particular employee—an Actifian if you will—that is a virtuoso in his or her chosen field. We’ll learn how these incredible individuals help Actifio flourish, as well as what occupies their time when they’re not in the office. For this second feature, read up about Actifio Fellow and company employee #3, Madhav Mutalik.
You started at Actifio in 2009 when the company first started. What’s the biggest change you’ve seen since Actifio’s beginning to now?
It’s a real company now. It’s almost foolish to talk about the differences. When we first started, we were three and then five people in a single room with a few desks. To me, what’s changed from where we began is that we started out saying we were all about cloud (which was up and coming) and we were going to be about data protection in the cloud. And we learned as we went along that there were bigger markets for us in copy data management (which is a term Ash invented) and that VMware was big in our lives. Our direction has changed somewhat from what we thought it was going to be long ago, and our processes have evolved. We now have functioning departments that do all kinds of things. It’s this big well-oiled machine we’ve all built from scratch.
Do you enjoy working at startups or at more established companies? You’ve worked at both.
The startup life is so much better. I was at EMC for fifteen years (I was released on good behavior!) and while I was there at various times I was an individual contributor, a project lead, an architect, and a manager of a team. They were different roles requiring different behaviors. At Actifio, within the first couple of years, I’d had all of those roles. It was a small company so you had to wear many hats. I was architecting a product, but I was also managing a team, hiring here and offshore, and working on development and other projects. I was doing all of those roles and doing them far better than any individual role I did at EMC; there was so much less stuff in your way to prevent you from being productive. There was no one else to do it so you did everything and you did it in the most efficient way for you. I feel that an amazing amount of that culture is still present at Actifio even though we’ve grown.
What made you decide to join Actifio?
When he was starting Actifio, Ash asked around to find people with a certain set of skills and someone he knew referred me to him. We talked a couple of times and David Chang also talked to me a few times. I could see the fit immediately. This is what I was meant to do – I don’t know why I’d waited so long! It wasn’t hard to convince me to join. When I joined, I was the third person.
The thing I’m most proud of is that at Actifio, for one day, I was the tallest person at the company! The current tallest person has big shoes to fill.
July 11, 2009: The oldest known picture of Actifio (when Madhav was the tallest person in the company)
So what do you do at Actifio now?
My first title was Architect (that’s what my LinkedIn profile still says. I haven’t changed it because if you change your job on LinkedIn you get a million people sending you ‘congratulations’ emails). My current title is ‘Fellow’. It’s a title a few of us have that sort of signifies people who’ve been around a long time and are supposed to be coming up with strategic initiatives that will take our Engineering organization forwards. In between Architect and Fellow, the title I had for the longest time was ‘Director of Application Development’. My group is the UDP Team, and we develop the “Application” side of the product. This is the component of the product that manages scheduling and policy management, orchestration of data capture, movement and access, and interaction with database and other applications.
Since you had to wear many hats at Actifio’s beginning, was it difficult to start delegating as the company grew?
No, I was glad to give up many of those roles. It was very interesting to wear multiple hats, but it did require spending a lot of time at Actifio. When I started out, my kids had just gone off to college and my wife had taken a job in New York, so I had the time to do this. When we got QA and IT, it was easy to let those kinds of responsibilities go.
We’ve hired some excellent people which has made delegation quite easy, since they do things better than I ever could! I kept the core pieces that were important for me to do.
What do you like to do when you’re not at Actifio?
Golf, sailing. I like to dabble in electronics. And I love photography- I bring my camera with me everywhere. I also enjoy cooking. I recently made a Bombay-style biryani that was pretty successful.
Meal- Last year my family vacationed in Tuscany, and I learned about eating the freshest possible Tuscan food. For example, take a Tuscan Panini – on the menu, the English translation is “ham sandwich”, but it’s prosciutto (not ham) and a farmer’s cheese (instead of processed American cheese), with a little olive oil (not mayo) on a crusty bread. The difference is incredible!
Book- “The C Programming Language” by Ritchie and Kernighan. (just kidding!)
Actifio Tradition- Potlucks. The energy that people have for bringing in stuff and showcasing their wonderful culinary skills and tastes to everyone is awesome. I’ve participated in maybe twenty potlucks at Actifio, and they’re always fun.
Sports Team- The Red Sox. I was very proud to be able to represent Actifio at Fenway Park last year.
Fill in the blank:
With $1 million I would- Maybe buy a Tesla so I could race [Actifio VP of Engineering] John Loonie out of the parking lot. Or maybe I’d get a sailboat – a big catamaran that [Actifio Co-Founder and SVP of Products] David Chang is always trying to talk me into!