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Q&A with Vikram Khandpur - Sinch’s new Chief Product Officer

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We’re thrilled to welcome Vikram Khandpur to Sinch as he joins our leadership team as our Chief Product Officer. Vikram joins us from Microsoft where he’s spent the last 13 years leading product management teams, most recently on Skype and Microsoft Teams platforms. You can read the formal announcement here and we caught up with Vikram to get to know him better.

What attracted you to this new opportunity at Sinch?

Sinch’s accomplishments to date and its potential certainly impressed me. The company has built an amazing network of communications services on top of hundreds of telcos worldwide, and has the right technology and assets in place to meet the rapidly rising demand for B2B and B2C customer engagement services. I could quickly see how I could add value in this opportunity, applying my experience with AI and layering on software to enhance the functionality of communications and collaboration platforms. Additionally, as I got to know Sinch’s leadership team, I appreciated their motivation and structure — both of which matter greatly for a company that’s ready to scale as Sinch is. What’s more, the company’s open and inclusive culture that promotes ground-up innovation aligns with my values.

Why is now the right time to join Sinch?

Sinch is poised to take advantage of a massive opportunity as business demand for message-based tools that deepen customer engagement and retention escalates. It’s the perfect time for me to help drive product focus and prioritize our engineering investments as the company scales to meet this high-growth opportunity.

What have been your biggest achievements at Microsoft and how will this experience benefit Sinch?

The learnings I’ve acquired over the last 13 years at Microsoft have taught me so much about digital transformation and product innovation at massive scale - especially around how people and businesses communicate, how teams collaborate and how developers innovate. I’ve applied all this to serve the needs of distinct audiences – whether consumers, Fortune 5000 organizations, SMBs or developers. Sinch will benefit from the sum total of these cumulative experiences.

What do you anticipate will be the biggest changes going from a global giant like Microsoft to a still global yet much smaller company like Sinch?

While Microsoft may seem like a much larger company, it’s made up of hundreds of different smaller and disruptive product teams. Also, Skype, where I led product management for four years following its acquisition by Microsoft, was originally a Swedish company. So in reality, there will be more similarities than challenges at Sinch. You could say we are culturally aligned.

Where do you think your expertise and experience leading multi-disciplinary product teams will have the biggest impact at Sinch?

My experience leading, building and motivating large product teams at Microsoft will surely have a direct impact as we scale product and engineering teams to meet the demand ahead of us. But what I bring too is a commitment to putting not just businesses but also consumers at the center of our products - this has always been at the heart of the way I work. This mindset will help provide clarity as Sinch plans, roadmaps and invests.

How will you apply your past entrepreneurial experience to the role at Sinch?

My experience as a founder has given me a unique perspective: teaching me how to make the right trade-offs and I’ve deployed this mentality even at the largest organizations where I’ve worked. While Sinch is no longer a start-up, I think it’s important to stay true to that scrappy, entrepreneurial culture for as long as possible so we can keep innovating profitably.

Where do you think cloud and mobile will be in the next 5-10-15 years? And how will you help Sinch meet the opportunities ahead?

First, consumers are starting to use chat and messaging apps more - not just to talk to each other, but to communicate with businesses, like taking action on a credit card alert, handling two-factor authentication or interacting with customer support. This is poised for rapid growth. In parallel, organizations are increasingly producing more data, which is driving growth in cloud adoption and SaaS applications. All this data means more opportunity, especially when it comes to improving customer experiences, but this is going to require more sophistication use of AI and data management to capitalize on this opportunity. The great news is that Sinch is primed for this new era of “conversational messaging” which is the precise opportunity where these two trends intersect. We’re in a fantastic spot to help organizations and users alike.

Given your AI experience, how do you plan on helping Sinch innovate and lead in conversational messaging?

There’s a lot of direct experience which is going to be invaluable. We evolved the Skype developer platform so that brands could build conversational bots and used Microsoft’s assistant, Cortana, to enable predictive replies. That experience using AI to make sense of big data and human interactions has given me unique insight into how we can take advantage of various AI technologies to improve the customer experiences Sinch can offer.

You’ll be working out of Seattle. Tell us more about why this location is strategic to Sinch.

The West Coast and especially Seattle is home to some of the largest technology brands - many of whom are Sinch customers. This proximity to our customers will positively influence our product roadmap. This is also a great place to invest in talent and technology - all of which will be vital to our success as we scale globally. In the short term, we have plans to actively hire for our product and engineering teams. Know someone who should join us? Hit me up.

What skillsets/qualifications will matter most for your teams in the future?

I am always looking to hire people with three key attributes; 1) a laser focus on the needs of the customer, 2) ability to think big and 3) a bias for action.

What keeps you awake at night?

Ensuring we always have the best, most motivated people in the right roles.

Vikram Khandpur

We welcome Vikram to the Sinch team!