Chirag will play an instrumental role in growing operations and helping Kong scale to new heights in the year to come. He joins us from Cornerstone OnDemand, where he served as the CFO and helped lead the company's successful IPO in 2011. He spent four years as a general manager overseeing Cornerstone's key growth initiatives, including the Asia-Pacific & Japan (APJ) and Small & Medium-Sized Business (SMB) teams, and as CFO in 2021 guided the company through its acquisition by Clearlake Capital for $5.2 billion. Chirag began his career in investment banking and earned a B.S. in Finance from Georgetown University as well as an MBA from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
We sat down with him to get to know the real Chirag and learn more about why he joined Kong, the proudest moment in his career, his favorite API and more!
Chuck: We're so excited to have you on board at Kong! What was it about Kong that made you want to join our team?
Chirag: I'm incredibly excited to be a Konger as well! There were so many reasons why Kong was the perfect fit for me, but it started with Aghi, Marco, and the incredible team they've built. Every person I met with at Kong was not only extremely bright and accomplished, but humble and kind. It was clear from my very first conversations that the work environment at Kong was one that I would genuinely enjoy being a part of.
Beyond the team, with more and more applications moving to a microservices architecture each day, the long-term market opportunity for Kong is extremely compelling. If we effectively execute against this opportunity, the sky is truly the limit at Kong, and there are so few companies that I could say that about.
Chuck: What are you looking forward to most as a Konger?
Chirag: I'm a builder at heart, so I'm most looking forward to getting into the trenches with our team to solve problems, create opportunities, and build a long-term, sustainable growth story that will hopefully make Kong a member of the next generation of iconic technology companies.
Chuck: You've had a successful career that spans acrossFinance, Strategy and Corporate Development. What has been your biggest achievement? What are you most proud of?
Chirag: Successfully taking my last company public in 2011 and later guiding it through a sale process that led to a $5.2 billion transaction are both significant achievements that I'm extremely proud of. But I consider my biggest achievement to be spending four years as a general manager running three different business units because it took me out of my finance comfort zone and forced me to learn how to be successful in an entirely different arena. Not only am I proud to have achieved strong performance results with the business units that I worked with, but I also developed operational perspective that will no doubt make me a much better finance leader long term.
Chuck: Who would you say has been the biggest influence on your career?
Chirag: While I've been fortunate to have had many individuals come into my life who have positively influenced my career, my parents have without a doubt had the biggest influence. From a very early age, my father continuously pushed me to be goal-oriented and pursue my dreams, so much of my ambition and drive came from him. My mother, on the other hand, always emphasized the importance of relationships and effective communication, and I think my early focus on this helped me develop the interpersonal skills that are critical to every successful career journey.
Chuck: If you weren't in Finance, what would you be doing today?
Chirag: If I wasn't in Finance, I would most likely be doing something that allows me to work with underprivileged children. Growing up, I witnessed first-hand how much economic inequality can impact the opportunities children get access to, so it would be extremely fulfilling to be in a position where I can help level the playing field for children who don't have the same financial means as others.
Chuck: What's your one must-read, must-watch or must-listen that you recommend to everyone?
Chirag: I first read "Good to Great" by Jim Collins while I was in college, and it taught me about some of the common characteristics of the most successful organizations in the world. After spending nearly two decades in the corporate world, it's become very clear that the concepts highlighted by Jim Collins in "Good to Great" are spot on, so I consider the book an absolute must-read.
Chuck: What is the one item you can't live without? And why?
Chirag: I could not imagine living life without my amazing family. They are my inspiration and my strength, and give me so much motivation to live life to the fullest in every respect.
Chuck: Lastly, what is your favorite API?
Chirag: The Google log-in API, for sure. As I suspect is true for most of us, the list of apps that I use seems to grow by the day, and the Google log-in API makes both getting started with and the ongoing use of these apps extremely seamless.