When I read news about CEO Anjali Sud taking Vimeo public on May 25, I felt proud and full of hope for the future of our community, especially for women and girls.
As a platform focused on empowering South Asian women globally, SEEMA always looks to feature the accomplishments of South Asian women, especially when they break new barriers and shatter stereotypes. Representation matters. When you can see it, you can be it, and for the millions of aspiring young South Asian girls around the world, Sud’s story opens the window to a new dream: to be in the C-suite, to dream, to take risks, to embrace diversity, support small entrepreneurs, create value for businesses, and to be a mom.
Sud is one of the few South Asian women to be a CEO in corporate America, one of the few to take a company public, and at age 37, one of the youngest female executives to transform a company. Born to Indian immigrant parents, Sud was raised in Detroit in a close-knit immigrant community and her parents encouraged her to believe in the American dream. She went to undergraduate school at Wharton in Pennsylvania and received an MBA from Harvard Business School in 2011. She worked in a variety of industries, including Amazon and Time Warner, before joining Vimeo in 2014 and rising through the ranks to become CEO in 2017.
But Anjali Sud’s accomplishments are interesting for reasons beyond her meteoric rise at Vimeo and there are many lessons we can learn.
1. Focus on helping the small guy: Rather than trying to compete with big giants like Netflix and YouTube, Sud focused on helping small businesses and providing creators with tools to enter the digital age with no technical knowledge. In a conversation with Forbes, she stated that she wanted to do with video what Squarespace and GoDaddy did for websites — allowing smaller businesses to get into the digital world with minimal technical know-how. She pitched the idea to CEO of Vimeo’s parent company Joey Levin. Levin liked the idea, and in no time she assembled a small team to begin her idea.
2. Invest in your idea and get ready to persevere for the long haul. Sud persevered for not just a short sprint, but the full marathon, which requires stamina. “There will always be competition and challenges as we scale,” she told Times of India, “and it’s my job to keep Vimeo focused on fulfilling our mission, delivering for customers.” On May 25 she tweeted: “It has been a 16-year labor of love, rooted in our belief in the power of video. We put creators first, and put that power in the hands of millions. To everyone who made today possible: Thank you Now we keep building. #VMEO”
3. Follow the dream: Sud followed her dream and embraced her diversity, seeing it as a differentiator. She was inspired by US Vice President Kamala Harris, and other accomplished women like her and says she too will play her part in being a role model to others. As a young mother, she also integrates her roles in work and life. On Instagram, Sud describes herself as “Vimeo CEO” and “Saavi’s mom. She is proud of her Indian heritage and heritage and believes her multicultural heritage helped her fulfill her dreams.
As we continue to celebrate the successes of South Asian women in leadership, I feel that we still have a long way to go in reaching parity and representation and that’s why at SEEMA we continue to focus on showcasing women like Anjali Sud and at the same time the millions of other women who are breaking barriers in many other ways in their own families, communities and redefining what it means to be a leader of our community.