This is the Leadership Journey series on the Choosing Leadership Podcast.

I believe we all have a lot to learn from each other’s stories – of where we started, where we are now, and our successes and struggles on the way. With this series of interviews, my attempt is to give leaders an opportunity to share their stories and for all of us to learn from their generous sharing. If you know a leader whom you would like to see celebrated on the show, please send me a message on LinkedIn with their name.

In this captivating interview, Ram Iyer, CEO and founder of Vayana, takes us on a fascinating journey through three decades of entrepreneurship. 

From the birth of Vayana, where the name itself signifies weaving seamless connections in B2B trade financing, to the unconventional approach of running a 450-people company with no HR or appraisals. 

Ram shares insights on the evolution of his leadership style, emphasizing the importance of a ‘live and let live’ philosophy. 

Discover the unique analogy of running a company like steering a train, with defined tracks, individual compartments, and a delicate balance of trust and policies. 

Get ready for an enriching conversation that not only delves into business strategies but also explores the personal principles that drive Ram’s curiosity, kindness, and authenticity, forming the cultural backbone of Vayana. 

You can find Ram Iyer at the below links

In the interview, Ram shares

  • “Vayana, in Sanskrit, means weaving – reflecting our role in B2B trade financing, seamlessly connecting businesses for efficient and cost-effective transactions.”
  • “Embarking on entrepreneurship in ’94, my journey from consulting to founding CashTech, and now Vayana, highlights the organic evolution of startups.”
  • “Reflecting on my 30-year journey, I’ve shifted from emotional ties to a more dispassionate view, embracing a ‘live and let live’ philosophy in leadership.”
  • “In the startup world, 450 employees, no HR, and no appraisals? Exploring unconventional organizational structures and the philosophy behind it.”
  • “Running Vayana is like steering a train – defined tracks, unique compartments, and a balance between a common direction and individual cultures.”
  • “Challenges in running a unique culture: questions about tracks, compartments wanting AC, and the constant tension between trust and the need for policies.”
  • “Creativity flourishes within constraints – the balance of innovation in financial services while adhering to regulations and building trust.”
  • “Trust as a foundation: Defaulting to trust is not just about being a ‘greater human being’; it’s economically lucrative and fosters responsible behavior.”
  • “Shifting the salary mindset: Paying for future promises rather than past performance, aligning with annual targets and team contributions.”
  • “Beyond the business, my joy and energy come from curiosity, niceness, and authenticity – principles that define me and form the cultural backbone of Vayana.”