Boomerang Spotlight – Vrahram Kadkhodaian
Theresa Ludvigson & T.J. Vilardi
“Salesforce Does it Right Through and Through”
This month’s Salesforce Boomerang Spotlight features, Vrahram Kadkhodaian, but you can call him VK. Read how VK got his start at Salesforce and what brought him back to the company after five years away.
Vrahram Kadkhodaian (VK) got his start at Salesforce in 2012 in the brand new (at the time) Chicago office as an Account Executive in the General Business space. “It was a very humble beginning at the Chicago office. We had 15 people in one room at the office and about 60 employees total,” said VK. With only 60 employees total in Chicago, there were only a handful of people selling to the healthcare space. “In a matter of four years, we grew from 5-6 people to 50 people across five different teams. The office quickly grew from 60 people to over 2,000. As I continued to progress in my career, I moved up to a Regional Vice President position, and I became part of the interview process for a lot of those people that helped scale the office. We were all trying to figure it out as we continued to grow at a rapid pace. It was really special getting to help open an office in my hometown of Chicago,” he said.
VK learned a lot and met some incredible people through the rapid growth of the Salesforce office in Chicago. “The company brought in people that were wildly successful at what they had done to help with the success of the office. Ryan Barretto and Dave Lehman had a wealth of knowledge that they were sharing with everyone on a daily basis. Things like proper discovery, selling the Salesforce way, and selling and servicing our customers as a team. I, as well as everyone else, got to see very quickly that this is not an individual sport. Everything is with the team — win or lose,” said VK. He also learned quickly that Salesforce walks the walk and doesn’t say things they don’t mean. “We truly live our core values every single day. It is not just marketing material on our website. If you are going to do it, mean it. If you are going to say it, mean it. Coming into Salesforce was so contagious for me and it was incredible to be part of something that special,” he said.
In 2016, VK made the difficult decision to leave Salesforce for new opportunities. VK told us, “It was the hardest decision I ever made professionally. I was at a point in my career between deciding if I wanted to make the next step up the ladder or become an entrepreneur or investor. I wanted the opportunity to be an entrepreneur because I come from a family of entrepreneurs. I decided to pursue my passion.”
When VK left Salesforce he sent Salesforce Co-Founder and CEO, Marc Benioff, an email titled ‘What The Ohana Means To Me’. “I just wanted to thank Marc for everything he and Parker had created and the amazing company they continued to lead. Everything he has instilled in this company truly does carry on with the people that believe in what Salesforce does,” he said. Marc actually saw and responded to the email in what VK called “a very cool engagement that I wasn’t expecting.”
VK spent five years away from Salesforce before deciding to return to the company in September of 2021. He told us, “It all came down to the opportunity itself. I really believe in our mission in the healthcare vertical and our ability to change the future of the industry. We have made tremendous leaps and bounds in the industry at Salesforce since I got my start here. The impact we can make at scale coupled with the opportunity was very compelling for me to come back.” Obviously, in five years a lot can change. Like many of our Salesforce Boomerangs, VK experienced that change, however, much of it remained the same. “There is a lot that has changed but there is a lot that is still the same. The pandemic has definitely accelerated some of the change I am seeing. Things like a large remote workforce and the company being close to 70,000 employees. There still remains an abundance of resources at Salesforce. It was always important to manage it and stay ahead of it but five years later multiply that and there is a lot more complexity,” he said.
Throughout our conversation you could hear how excited VK was to be back at Salesforce. “I am very fired up with what we are doing. When you think about the change and impact we can make in healthcare it is simply astounding. We have done great things in every industry for our customers, however, one of the industries that is ready to explode is the healthcare industry. We are all consumers of healthcare and we can drive better outcomes and make healthcare more accessible. All the things we are doing in this space will help the next generation of consumers of healthcare. It is a personal mission we have and we are pumped about the change we can drive,” said VK.
Giving Back and Wellbeing
VK is a #girldad and very proud of it. He has three beautiful daughters who are six years old, four years old, and three months. “I always thought I would have boys because I have a lot of boys in my family. I never thought about being a girl dad but it is the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life,” he said. And, like many parents, VK finds himself giving back to the local community through his kids. VK told us, “The big way that I give back is through my kids’ sports teams. I have one daughter in soccer and another in gymnastics. I coach my daughter’s soccer team and find it very rewarding. Being able to get away from the office for a few hours a week to coach my kids is a big part of my giving back to not only the next generation but for my community.”
The pandemic has challenged everyone to rethink wellbeing and that includes VK. “Being mindful and meditating are really important. You have to find time each day to clear your head. I really try to focus on this but I believe it is important for everyone else as well,” he said. VK continued, “I have also shared with my leaders to encourage the people on their teams to carve time out of their day to go workout. You will get more out of them and out of yourself. It is important to break up the day and think about your own wellbeing. Don’t be scared to be selfish about what you need in order to be and stay well. Those little things of practices of doing some sort of physical workout on your own terms and your own time is critical.”
Advice for Alumni
Like Vrahram, many Salesforce Alumni find themselves interested in returning to the company. We asked him what advice he would have for those Alumni out there. He told us, “If you are a Salesforce Alumni that wants to come back, reach out to your network still at the company. That is the absolute fastest path back. Make sure to leverage the network you spent time building. It is ready to help you and give back to you.”