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Fireside chat with Intekhab Nazeer, CFO of WekaIO

Who is Intekhab Nazeer?

Intekhab is CFO at WekaIO that offers a limitless data platform for storage. As a Chartered Accountant, he started his career with HCL India and moved to the US in 1997. Over the last 25 years, he has led several fast-growing companies in enterprise software and the healthcare industry. He is also a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. With a rich blend of core financial strengths and operational experience, he has helped several start-ups succeed by priming their sales and business operations. Most recently, he was the CFO at Unifi which was acquired by Dell Boomi in 2020. Prior to this, Intekhab was with Platfora which was acquired by Workday in 2016. He spent 3 years at Appcelerator before its acquisition by Axway. In 2009, he was with Greenplum, which ended up being acquired by EMC. He is a musician at heart and plays the harmonica and flute. He shares karaoke songs and mimicry through YouTube and local radio stations. He loves watching movies and misses playing cricket.

Tell us more about your role in WekaIO.

Intekhab leads the global finance and accounting for WekaIO, including fundraising, budgeting, and global footprint expansion plans. He spends a lot of his time in sales operations streamlining team quota allocations, improvising sales forecasting methods, and developing creative comp plans. As the Human Resources department head, he recently hired teams in the UK, Taiwan and New Zealand. For Intekhab, who to hire is as important as when to hire. He also organizes periodical team building events. Right now, WekaIO is in the phase of rapid growth and that is where Intekhab excels.

What is the most difficult part of your job? But the most rewarding one?

I consider sales forecasting to be the most intriguing part of my job. The numerous flavors of deals with Fortune 500 clients make it challenging to put a precise close date on each transaction. However, with a novel and creative way of forecasting, I believe we have cracked the code and it is very rewarding to see how the accuracy comes into play at the end of each quarter. We came up with a method that helps the company work through various sizes of deals in the pipeline, evaluating them on certain key parameters and then categorizing them in two or three buckets. With a weighted probability, we can now assign a conversion ratio to the pipeline.

Is there anything that you would change about your professional path?

I would love to learn about the product’s architecture and design by spending more time with the engineers and solutions team. Knowing the technology in depth, beyond the basics, goes a long way in facilitating effective operational decision making.

What’s your key strategy for the development of your company?

WekaIO provides a fast and extensible data platform for next-gen workloads like Artificial Intelligence and Cloud. Over the last few years, we have built our business through partnerships with Hitachi, Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, and Amazon Web Services, giving us access to these projects at the largest G1000 companies. WekaIO has already accrued an amazing array of logos, each having tremendous potential for expansion. I would like to strategize a way where the sales team can penetrate deep into these accounts and then go wide. In my opinion, the ARR that these expansions can generate will be massive for the company. The idea is not to sweat too much about the renewal, but to successfully get expansion and growth in each of the existing accounts, that makes the renewal fully secured, and also increases the LTV of the deals. This will help the company achieve its goal to exceed the SaaS metrics standard of successful software companies in terms of NDR, CAC/LTV ratio, efficiency ratio, Magic number, PBP, etc.

What do you think about the next period of time, keeping in mind the pandemic and the new business climate? How will your industry be affected?

The most successful businesses are always the ones that find opportunity in a changing business climate. At WekaIO, we decided early on, to focus on 3 key verticals (GPU acceleration, Life Sciences and Financial Services) during the pandemic and we came out as winners. We will continue to focus on these verticals and believe there will be no setbacks coming out of the pandemic. The industry in general will be affected with things primarily around the supply chain and budget conservation, but that should improve with time. I expect that business travel will normalize with COVID vaccines. At Weka, our sales team is fully vaccinated and is already visiting the customers. I believe that 2022 will be the year of transition.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business.

Most popular answer would be Zoom which applies to WekaIO as well. We are running our global business successfully, including SKOs as well as QBRs utilizing Zoom technology. Systems like Salesforce.com and NetSuite have helped uninterrupted scaleup of the business, and tools such as HubSpot, DemandBase and Qualified have enabled us to keep our customers and prospects digitally engaged. NetSuite enables us to close books much faster, including global consolidations. Integration of SFDC with NetSuite has been very helpful in sales operations while we continue working through additional features. I have automated operations like budgeting, stock option management, sales comp plans, etc. using technologies that can generate additional bandwidth for the team.

What books do you have on your nightstand?

It primarily includes light reading, 2 States by Chetan Bhagat, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, etc.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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