Sameer Dholakia ’91 receives 2021 Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award
Sameer Dholakia ’91 – who credits Webb for teaching him servant leadership – has received the 2021 Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award in recognition of his business accomplishments, the corporate culture he promotes, and his generous gifts of time, talent and treasure to Webb.
Dholakia worked at Trilogy for 12 years, holding key leadership roles in sales, business development and product management, helping the company grow from a start-up to a $300 million business. He shifted to VMLogix, where he served as CEO and doubled revenues during each year of his tenure. When the company was acquired by Citrix, he served as vice president and general manager of the Cloud Platforms group, driving the company’s product strategy for cloud infrastructure and server virtualization. Citrix was a $3 billion revenue software company when Dholakia left in 2014. Dholakia then joined SendGrid as CEO. During the first three years of his tenure, the company’s revenue quadrupled to $111 million. He also led the company’s 2017 initial public offering. Under his leadership, SendGrid has emerged as a leader in customer communications, delivering transactional and marketing email through one reliable cloud-based platform. In 2019, SendGrid was acquired by Twilio, the leading cloud communications platform. Currently, Dholakia is a partner at Bessemer Venture Partners, helping entrepreneurs lay strong foundations to build and forge long-standing companies. He also serves as a board member for ServiceTitan, the world’s leading software technology platform for the trades, and PagerDuty, an IT services and consulting company.
Dholakia said the role of leader was engrained during his time at Webb.
“I went to an interview once for a CEO position, and they asked me when I knew I wanted to be a CEO,” Dholakia said. “I had never thought of it consciously, but I went to a school whose motto was ‘Leaders, Not Ordinary Men’ and I just I assumed I would be leading.”
For him, leading is service, an idea at the core of what Webb does as a school.
“Servant leadership is my style of leadership,” he said. “That’s just what I grew up with,”
Dholakia sees that theme of leadership, honor and good values at the core of all Webb students.
“I know that I can walk into a room with a fellow Webb alumnus and just know how they will act and present themselves,” he said.
In the spirit of giving back, Dholakia has been an outstanding volunteer and advocate for Webb. He was a reunion chair for his 15-, 20-, and 25-year reunions. He served on the Alumni Council as the regional representative for Silicon Valley and has been instrumental in building Webb’s alumni community in the area by hosting alumni events at his home and his former office in Menlo Park.
He has been an industry mentor for young alumni looking to network, receiving calls or having coffee with recent Webb graduates. In May 2019, he flew down to Los Angeles for the day to participate in Webb’s “Innovator’s Edge” panel.
Dholakia and his wife, Laura, along with brother Sanjay ’87 and his wife, Melissa ’87, established the Pravina Dholakia Scholarship Fund in honor of their mother to help deserving students attend Webb.
“It was so special to us that our mom and dad cared so much about education,” he said. “It’s astonishing how much of their income was invested in education at Webb, especially for a young immigrant family. We are lucky we had the chance to do that. Honoring our mother has been our life’s work.”
Dholakia said he hopes the scholarship ensures a Webb education for future generations that is as transformational as it was for him and his brother.
“I hope and pray it does that for someone else’s life,” he said. “I hope they are able to do more and serve more in a way they may not have been able to do. They’ll pay it forward for the next generation.”
For all Webb students, Dholakia hopes that above all, they will be kind.
“I care so much about kindness. I want nothing else if not kindness,” he said.
He advises Webb students to stay intellectually curious.
“It’s not just about the content of any given class, just the constant desire to learn and see all that there is still to learn.”
He shares advice we can all take: “Whatever walk of life or passion you have, approach it with humility and service. When you apply yourself, do think about success and achievement but with a heavy dose of ‘how does this benefit others for good?’ How are you helping the collective? Have the humility to remember that.”
Congratulations to Sameer Dholakia ’91 for receiving the 2021 Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award.
Nominations are open for the 2022 Alumni Awards. Submit your nominations by June 30. Nominate someone here.