Vikram Somasundaram - BMath '13, MAcc '13
1. Tell us about your current position. How many years have you worked here and what are the skills required for the tasks you complete on a daily basis?
Vikram (MAcc ‘11) started off his career as a Monitor Deloitte Consultant in October of 2011. Vikram now works full time as the co-founder and CEO of Edusight, an online database that assists teachers in capturing and organizing student data. Some of Vikram’s day to day tasks include:
- speaking with teachers and parents to continuously improve the Edusight program,
- blogging and other marketing activities to help raise Edusight’s profile, and
- overseeing Edusight’s finances, and
- leading / motivating his team
Various skills come into play at work, as Vikram explains that “writing a blog post or talking to users require well developed communication skills and creativity, while problem solving is very common because there’s always some kind of issue on a given day”.
2. What inspired you to pursue entrepreneurship as a career?
Vikram has always been an avid problem solver. No matter what type or how large the problem, he approaches challenges with the mindset of creating a positive impact around him. Providing innovative solutions and positive change led to his roles in the reorganization and development of the Accounting and Finance Student Association (AFSA) during his undergrad and assisting clients as a Consultant with Deloitte.
With education being a topic that Vikram cares deeply about, his career pathway led to a focus on creating something that could help personalize education, “How do I ensure that when I’m a teacher and I’m with a student, what is learned about that student then gets passed on and communicated easily to parents?”
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
One of Vikram’s most memorable moments was receiving his acceptance into a start-up accelerator. For Edusight, a new partnership with accelerator Imagine K12 meant that Vikram needed to gain a deeper understanding of education technology in order to knowledgeably raise investments for the project, and work through the process of being recognized as an official Silicon Valley company.
Another important milestone for Vikram occurred when Edusight hired its first full-time employee. With the new hire to the Edusight family, it transitioned the start-up from a “group of founders working from home”, to becoming “a real company with a culture and a working process”.
4. Have you faced any obstacles or challenges in your current position?
A common question for all start-up organizations is: “How can I ensure the product I’m building is the best way to solve my problem?” For Vikram, this means being able to assist teachers in capturing details of their students in the most effective and efficient way possible.
Although Edusight has been successful in gaining a solid customer base, they know that they have not yet achieved what Vikram calls the “slam-dunk” product. The constant challenge of finding a way to reach this goal is something that Vikram encounters daily.
5. Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
When making career decisions, the most important factor for Vikram is to ensure that his work is meaningful and making a difference in people’s lives. His passion for making a difference was what led him to work in management consulting, and subsequently start his own company. In the future, Vikram hopes to continue doing what he loves by helping others and creating positive change.
6. What does the word success mean to you?
“Success is a reflection of someone’s values,” states Vikram. Success is not about society’s definition, but rather holds a different meaning for every individual. He believes that finding success entails choosing expectations for yourself, and continually digging deep into what you value and what you want to achieve.
7. If you were to go back in time to when you were in university and just starting your undergraduate career, what advice would you give yourself? Do you have any advice for current first year students?
From what he knows now and working in a tech start-up, Vikram wishes he could have developed a larger network of peers who were developers. Knowing developers early on in his undergraduate career would have been beneficial to what he’s doing today.
His advice to first-year students is to not be afraid to explore different paths. “People’s career paths are not linear,” Vikram explains. “The earlier you broaden the set of things open to you, the better.”
8. How has the School of Accounting and Finance helped to develop your career?
Vikram praises SAF as having prepared him well in becoming an entrepreneur, by having a structured program that enhanced his learning through co-op experiences and opportunities to develop technical skills. Upon working his first full-time job, Vikram noticed a difference in ethical behaviour and professionalism among his peers and colleagues. He credits this difference to the professional experiences he’s gained from co-op. Furthermore, Vikram applauds SAF for providing him with a strong technical background in Accounting and Finance. Even as an entrepreneur, Vikram works with accountants and bookkeepers. “Even if you go out of your traditional career,” Vikram notes, “you can still apply things you’ve learned.”
9. What extracurriculars were you involved in at Waterloo, and what do you like to do now for fun or in your spare time?
At the University of Waterloo, Vikram was involved in AFSA, the University of Waterloo Accounting Conference (UWAC), Waterloo Model UN, and intramural sports, just to name a few activities. During his spare time, Vikram loves to read, play sports, and watch his favourite basketball team, the Toronto Raptors. He is also currently learning how to play the guitar.