Location: Maplewood, MO
Sri Chellappa believes the key to organizational success is in aligning people to their strengths and interests to where they find purpose.
“You can’t get a donkey to run the derby,” said Chellappa, president and co-founder, Engagedly. “The derby horse has a role and the donkey has a different role.”
Built on best practices and decades of research, Engagedly’s people+strategy platform is built to drive performance outcomes starting with its people. Chellappa explained that with Engagedly’s modular platform, organizations can execute on their strategy with goals/OKRs, performance appraisals and 360 reviews; enable their people development with one on-one feedback, LMS, mentoring/coaching; and engage their people with recognition and rewards, employee survey and social praise.
“Engagedly is a complete solution available to align people practices with organizational strategy,” Chellappa said. “Engagedly is also a modular platform so organizations can grow into their strategy with only the modules they need.”
Previously a management consultant with EY and Emids, Chellapa acquired experience working with large fortune 1000 organizations. He said one thing that always stood out was the lack of employee engagement at many of these organizations, thus prompting the idea for building Engagedly, now used by over 100,000 users in 30 countries.
“I have built this solution that is unique in nature that combines both what organizations want (higher revenue, more profits) and what employees want (more fulfilling careers),” Chellappa said. “Building this company in St. Louis with no funding and getting to 100,000 paid user count is no mean feat.”
In addition to being a tech entrepreneur, Chellappa is a filmmaker with five feature films and two documentaries which have played on Netflix, Showtime, Prime and cable channels globally and a musician with his first EP coming out. Chellappa is also an executive board member at Cinema St. Louis, the organization that puts on the St. Louis International Film Festival, and has a non-profit Chellappa-Vedavalli Foundation that supports education and alleviating poverty through social entrepreneurship. Recently named as a Top 50 Tech Visionary in the U.S., Chellappa said the accomplishment he is most proud of is his film, Bad Grandmas, which he wrote, directed and produced. This industry titan shared his insight on how to be a successful, respected leader.
“You cannot monopolize ideas, as everyone has ideas, but you can get the right ones, the ones with the passion and work ethic, to be successful by giving them the right tools and guidance to be successful,” Chellappa said. “I frequently mentor many startup founders and entrepreneurs but ultimately they have to do the work.”
He said his biggest leadership lesson comes from experience on seeing when people excel and when they fail. Chellappa quotes Albert Einstein when he said, “Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
“My goal in life is to succeed by helping others succeed,” Chellappa said. “It gives me immense satisfaction when someone I mentored has gone on to do great things.”
Sri once decided to quit corporate America and get a bartender certification so he could learn about people.