Three years ago, Ranjay Sarda uprooted his life in Bangalore, where he managed Acara’s sales function for the entire country of India, to move to the United States. His mission? To establish Acara’s first branch in Charlotte, North Carolina. In our latest Seeing Fit interview, Ranjay talks about resiliency, building an office from the ground up, and the secret perks of being a salesperson.
On the challenges of uprooting everything:
When I moved here three years ago, I went from heading an established office of 85 to setting up a new office of one (me). The biggest challenge was working alone—something I had never experienced in India, where I was always surrounded with people. That was very difficult, especially on bad days, when it’s helpful to have camaraderie. I also came without any contacts and had to build everything from scratch. I quickly realized that people in the U.S. only work with vendors they deem likable, because there is so much competition in the market. And in order to be likable, you have to get in front of them.
On how he got in front of them:
I started going to events around the Charlotte area at organizations like the Rotary Club, the German Chamber of Commerce, and the Latin American Chamber of Commerce. I made it a point to be visible. Honestly, I felt like Rocky. I kept falling and getting up, but I never gave up. I made it so that people could not ignore me. Gradually, they saw my persistence, and then, through word of mouth, they started approaching me. People are aware of who I am and what Acara is in the Carolina market because of the amount of networking that I do.
On cultural learning curves:
I was not familiar with the voicemail culture here at all. In India, everybody picks up the phone. I remember my standard message used to be eight minutes long, because I was giving them my entire narrative. Soon enough, I realized that wasn’t working; people just don’t have that much time. So, I started practicing and recording myself. Today, after three years, my voicemail message has come down to less than 10 seconds.
His dueling responsibilities:
I help local companies in the Carolinas find talent. I am also responsible for cross-pollination between India and the U.S. There are a lot of companies headquartered in India that want to open an office somewhere in the U.S., not necessarily just in Charlotte. Given that I worked in India for almost 12 years, I understand the law of the land there. So, it’s easy to help those companies with hiring needs here. I do the same for American companies that need help finding talent in India. There’s an incredible amount of cultural and legal education that has to happen both ways.
On the Acara Difference:
To attract top talent, an employer must implement creative recruiting tactics and must be able to provide job seekers with compelling reasons to join the organization. Acara works with our clients to devise and execute those tactics and compile those reasons. We also take the time to fully understand the challenges companies are grappling with. Only then do we use our industry knowledge and analytical tools to find candidates with not only the right technical competencies but also the right behavioral competencies. And by that, I mean we stress cultural fit. It’s very important to find a candidate who has values that align with the values of the company we are recruiting for and the personality of the hiring manager. We are better at that than anyone else.
Why he’s the right person for his role:
This job requires someone who is very self-motivated, because sales professionals face rejection on an almost-daily basis. That’s the nature of the work. And I think I’m very well suited for it because I don’t need somebody to motivate me. I’m intrinsically motivated. I love challenges.
The other thing he loves about sales:
I’m a creative person, and I consider sales to be the most creative job, because there’s no one way to get things done. There are multiple ways to turn prospects into clients. I get bored really easily, but sales is something that has kept me hooked every day for the last 12 or 13 years. There is never a dull or tedious day.
The Acara values that align with his own:
The culture here is very supportive. That’s a value that has had a tangible, positive impact on my life. I needed a challenge, and leadership was absolutely supportive when I told them that I wanted to make this life-changing decision to come to the U.S. If I need to talk to the CEO or the president of the company, I can reach out directly. A hierarchy exists, of course, but it’s just on paper. There’s an openness here, and we are each accountable for whatever that we do. Acara is a very ethical company.
The perks of being a senior manager of business development and sales:
You’re helping a job seeker find a job. You’re helping a company find the right talent. Nothing gives me more pleasure than when a candidate emails me and says, “Hey, Ranjay. Thank you so much for finding me this job.” Knowing that I have been instrumental to somebody getting their career back on track, that’s satisfaction that’s difficult to describe in words.