Leadership Voices: Q&A with WELL Health Senior Vice President of Engineering Ashu Agte
Ashu Agte has joined WELL Health to lead the Engineering function as Senior Vice President of Engineering. A seasoned software engineering leader, he brings 20+ years of experience growing engineering teams at hyper-growth SaaS companies, including through multiple successful exits.
Here, we get to know him a little better with 10 quick questions on his background and plans for the future:
What is your professional background?
I was born in India, and came to the U.S. for college. If you were to summarize my 20-plus years of experience, you could simply say “three startups and three exits.” The last startup I was at was acquired by Autodesk around three years ago.
After helping integrate the company, I got a chance to lead their flagship product, AutoCAD. I felt like it was a super cool opportunity to lead a large distributed multi-platform engineering organization, so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past two years.
What made you want to explore new opportunities?
Earlier this year, as I approached my three-year anniversary at Autodesk, I started to feel a pull to go back to the startup world. At the same time, I was introduced to WELL Health’s founder and CEO, Guillaume de Zwirek, and the rest is history!
What made you decide to join WELL Health?
Since this was my fourth time getting into the startup world, I was very deliberate and very selective. There were basically three boxes I wanted to check.
First, I wanted to make a positive impact on the world and improve people’s lives.
Second, I really wanted to work with fantastic people who were supportive, collaborative, and set a high bar that would help me elevate my own way of operating. Finally, I wanted the opportunity to experience the period between Series C and IPO, since I hadn’t yet had that experience at previous startups.
WELL Health overwhelmingly exceeded my expectations in all three areas, and it was a no-brainer after meeting everyone and learning more about the mission to make healthcare number one in customer service.
How has the ramp-up period been so far?
Before officially joining full-time, I started as an advisor so I could get involved right away. While I’m not fully ramped up yet, everyone has been really great in helping me get onboarded. Everyone is really collaborative, and I’m excited to hit the ground running – particularly since WELL Health has such ambitious goals for technological innovation in Healthcare.
What’s your first impression of WELL Health now that you’re getting up to speed?
I believe we are at an inflection point in terms of scaling. By scaling I don’t only mean software, but the entire engineering team. We need to set the stage for a team of, say, 300 engineers, and lay the foundation for what our culture will be. What will be our best practices? What is the bar for engineering excellence, and what processes will get us there?
What’s your vision for scaling the engineering function?
Like any engineering leader, I want to partner with everybody to build a world-class engineering organization. There’s a lot that goes into successfully scaling an engineering function, and I plan to write a blog soon on my philosophy and approach when it comes to achieving excellence in a growing engineering team.
Getting more personal, can you tell us about your family?
We are a family of three. I have one daughter, who is 11 years old, and my wife of 16 years, who is also a software engineer – so we are kind of a techie family. We live in the Bay Area.
Are there any tv shows or books that have captured your attention recently?
The last show I really liked is called The Witcher, and maybe I liked it a little more than others because I’ve read the books it is based on. As for books, in keeping with the sci-fi/fantasy theme, I recently enjoyed a book called Dark Matter by Blake Crouch.
What are your favorite mobile apps?
During the week, it’s Slack. On the weekends, however, I prefer YouTube.
What are your proudest moments, both personally and professionally?
My proudest professional moment would have to be the state of the engineering organization that I built at my last startup – I’m super proud that we were able to get to that stage. Personally, my proudest moment was holding my newborn daughter in the hospital for the first time! ♥