Getting to Know You: Sundar Ramasamy, Co-founder & CEO
Getting to Know You is a blog series meant to surface insights into the amazing individuals of Wilco Source. Every month, we’ll get to the heart of our team so you can get to know us a little better and find out what makes us tick.
This month, meet Sundar Ramasamy, our co-founder and CEO. As CEO, Sundar leads a people-centric approach to business and life, always putting clients and team members first while driving a culture of inclusion and opportunity.
So, let’s learn a little bit more about Sundar, his journey to start Wilco Source, and his goals for the future.
Where were you born and/or where have lived the majority of your life?
I was born and raised in South India, completing my schooling at Bharathidasan University. After graduating, I worked in India for two years before moving to the US in 1999. I originally ended up in New Jersey, but got my first project in Cloquet, Minnesota. The next project took me to Fremont, California in 2000, and I never left! I’ve now spent more than 20 years here in California.
When you were a kid, what kind of job did you think you’d have when you grew up?
I come from a business family. Many of my ancestors — grandfather, father, brother-in-law, nephews — are part of a jewelry wholesale business but I was never interested in doing the same for some reason. While I was in school, the only profession I commonly heard about was engineering. I decided I wanted to become an engineer, but I really had no clue that would directly involve computers.
How did you start working in IT?
My educational background includes a bachelors in physics and masters in computer applications. After completing my post-graduate education, I started applying for IT jobs in the United States. This was in the late 90s, and because of the Y2K fears, many tech-focused workers in India started to come to the US to support the technology initiatives related to Y2K.
What led you to create Wilco Source?
After moving to the US, I was working for a startup when the dot-com crash happened and I lost my job. I was here on a work visa so I needed to find a job within 30 days. When I started looking for full-time jobs I came across a position at Pacific Pulmonary Services. I learned that I would be the first developer for the company and that I’d be building the team and leading the department. Initially, I was a little scared, because I was used to being part of a team and spending most of my time coding, where things were very straightforward. Now, I was tasked with more of a leadership, business-decision role and it provided me a new outlook on business.
While I was there, I had a wonderful team. Even though I had never thought about actually starting a business, in 2014, some internal changes were beginning to happen fairly rapidly at Pacific Pulmonary Services. These changes actually presented an opportunity to direct my own future. Long story short, in June 2014 I put in my two-weeks notice — June 30th was my last day and July 1st was my first day at Wilco Source.
Why did you choose the name Wilco Source?
One morning, I met Kedar (my co-founder) at a coffee shop for an informal business meeting. He was the one who suggested the name Wilco and then explained to me the backstory of the term. Being a pilot, Kedar was familiar with stories of WWII pilots using the phrase “wilco”, which was shorthand for “will comply”. I immediately searched the name but it was, unfortunately, already taken. I then suggested adding “source” to the name because our business model was to act as a resource to our clients. And the rest is history.
What do you feel makes Wilco Source so special?
In 2010, while I was at my previous company, we had to implement a Salesforce platform. I had to hire contractors and consulting companies and discovered that some teams were good at understanding technical aspects but not good at business. Other teams were good at understanding business but not technical aspects. I realized my team was pretty good at understanding the business AND technical aspects. So, I thought, why not start a business that better understands the business aspects while also providing a quality product. That’s what I feel makes Wilco Source so special –– we bring those two very rare traits together. This level of understanding is only achievable, however, because we take the time to really listen to and learn from our clients.
Discovery sessions are very important to me and our business. I want teams to spend time with every client department to understand their processes and to know their business so that we can provide a solution that meets their needs and is adapted to the way they, as a unique business, operate. We always wanted Wilco Source to be a people-first company. From employees to clients to prospects to partners, we wanted to build bonds and relationships.
In your journey as CEO, what’s one thing you’re most proud of?
I feel most proud about creating jobs and providing opportunities to those who otherwise haven’t had much opportunity. That is very fulfilling and rewarding. It does come with its challenges though. Someone once asked what the differences were from before being a CEO to after, and I always say, before being a CEO I had to make decisions with one family in mind. Now, I have to think and make careful decisions because I have more than 150 families to consider.
What’s one of your big, audacious goals?
In three years, I’d like Wilco Source to be a 300-employee company and to continue to create more job opportunities. I hope to have more clients and become the go-to Salesforce partner. One thing I will say is, it’s never been my personal intention to focus solely on making money. I’ve always set certain goals that I want to achieve and I’ve always seen making money as a byproduct of those goals.
Whether it’s professionally or personally, who inspires you most?
Ratan Tata. He is a big industrialist and philanthropist in India. While he is one of the richest men in India, he is also extremely humble and down to earth. I respect him because he’s always been one of the first people to step up and contribute to good causes, including being one of the first to contribute to help with COVID 19.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
One of the pieces of advice I’ve ever received was from my father when I was about 17 or 18 years old, and I’ve been following it to this day. He said that if we decide to give away something, be it a material possession or money, we should do it within two minutes, otherwise we may change our mind.
When you’re not working, where can you most likely be found?
When I am not working I can be found either with my friends or watching movies — which is my real stress reliever.
What are people most surprised to learn about you?
People are most surprised when I say that I used to throw lots of tantrums until I was 8 years old. I’m very easy going now!