Lessons from the C-Suite: Anirudh Kumar

Anirudh Kumar is a seasoned executive with over 18 years of experience across Consulting, Operating, and Investing roles. As the Chief Strategy Officer at Absolute Sports, he spearheads the company’s overall strategy, international expansion and M&A efforts. He started his career at McKinsey & Co. and later held key operating roles at Directi Group and Snapdeal, where he led critical functions such as user growth, analytics, and digital marketing. Anirudh has also led investments across multiple verticals for Matrix Partners ($5B AUM), one of India’s leading venture capital firms. Prior to joining Absolute, he was Managing Director at Rainforest Venture Network, a hybrid investment network that invests in seed-stage technology startups.

  1. What are some Tips you want to share with those who are facing a job search in a daunting atmosphere?

It is a challenging environment for job-hunting. These are some tips from my personal experience as a recruiter and as a (recent) applicant:

  • Confidence and Attitude – Employers value candidates who demonstrate confidence and a clear understanding of the value they can bring to the company, especially in today’s buyer’s market. By effectively communicating your strengths and skills, you can increase your chances of impressing potential employers.
  • Resume Building Tips: Recruiters only briefly review resumes, so aim for a one-page document. This demonstrates clear thinking and allows them to quickly understand your experience. Use the S-A-R (Situation-Action-Result) framework for each bullet point to showcase your accomplishments and individual contributions.
  • Application Tips: There are two sources that have proven to be useful for me:

i. Linkedin: Create customized job alerts on LinkedIn by setting filters for job titles, location, industry, and experience level. You’ll receive email notifications when matching jobs are posted. Keep in mind that the job search process is a funnel: applying to 100 relevant jobs may result in shortlisting for 10, and serious discussions with 2-3. To increase your chances, aim to apply to 4-5 job postings every other day.

ii. Executive Search, Placement Consultants: Expanding your network can be especially valuable for mid-senior and senior-level positions, which may not be advertised on job sites. Consider connecting with executive search professionals who work in your industry – they are often willing to meet potential candidates. By doing so, you increase your visibility and may be top of mind for them when relevant opportunities arise.

  • Process Tips: For mid-senior to senior-level positions, the hiring process often includes a case study or project. This stage is critical, as it demonstrates your ability to think clearly, understand instructions, and effectively present ideas. To stand out from other candidates, focus on delivering an output that impresses recruiters and showcases your strengths.

2. From your point of view, what’s one thing you think helps a candidate stand out in interviews?

In addition to relevant experience, a candidate’s attitude – particularly her solution-oriented approach – is crucial for me. I carefully observe their language during conversations, and prioritize those who focus on opportunities and solutions over problems. I believe that while skills can be learned, attitude cannot.

3. You’re in the C-Suite and have worked in interesting and complicated scenarios with multiple stakeholders – what’s your secret sauce when it comes to negotiation? Can you share a few (actionable) tips?

I’ve spent the last decade or so negotiating both as an operator where value/price parameters were clearly defined, and as a venture capitalist with early stage startups, where value is yet to be discovered. 

Negotiations, in my experience, come down to three things: (1) Understanding the Zone of Possible Agreement between two parties, (2) Figuring out relative payoffs (can be quite different for the two parties for the same things), and finally (3) Moving once with finality and closing quickly. 

Pre-negotiation groundwork – including value statements and analysis – is the most critical. Establishing trust through charm and personal connection also plays a key role. Women, who often have higher EQs, make particularly effective negotiators in my experience. 🙂

4. Working in sports tech or at a startup can be a lot — what are some of your hacks to keep it together and be efficient and productive but *not burn out?

You’re asking the wrong person – I absolutely love my work and wouldn’t want to spend my free time doing anything else! 😀

Working in startups can be challenging for those who prefer a corporate setting. However, taking complete ownership of one’s work and embracing a founder mindset makes burn-out impossible. It’s a unique and demanding lifestyle that requires careful consideration before diving in. But for those who are up for the challenge, it can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling experience.

5. What is a top trend you’re looking fwd to in 2023 in your industry/ area of expertise?

Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence, and I’m no exception – I’m absolutely thrilled for what’s in store in 2023! This year is going to be the year of AI, and the strides we’ll see in practical, consumer-facing applications of AI are going to be mind-blowing. As someone in the digital sports publishing industry, I believe we are in a prime position to capitalize on the immense opportunities that this technology will bring. Get ready to see AI revolutionize the world around us!

6. Anything else you’d want to share?

Stay focused, stay positive, and remember: job hunting is a funnel approach! It may seem daunting, but by keeping your eyes on the prize and pushing forward, you can find the right opportunity. With every application, you get one step closer to your dream job – so stay motivated and keep your sights set high!

Views expressed are personal.

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