Reza Behnam steps down from CEO role at SaaS firm Taskworld

Reza Behnam has left his role as CEO of Taskworld, a B2B SaaS productivity and collaboration suite. He has been with the company for two years and Behnam (pictured) said in a LinkedIn post that during his time there, he “learnt a tremendous amount from [its] clients, partners, competitors, and most of all, from [his] colleagues”.

“I leave with a full heart and with full confidence in the Taskworld team to scale to new heights. I will be watching eagerly from the sidelines and rooting for them all,” he added.

Behnam said he will continue to be active in supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Southeast Asia and beyond as an advisor, mentor, and investor, while he takes a short break from day-to-day operational work.

“I have a few things in mind but for now I'm not going to rush into them. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to reset, recharge and re-engage at an appropriate time,” he said. Behnam added that he remains passionate and excited about the future of work space, adding that the industry is just scratching the surface in terms of offering solutions for some key needs, especially in the era of remote work life.

"Tech startups go through different phases of development. These phases are sometimes driven by stage of maturity or growth, for example the proof of concept or product market fit stage, and other times driven primarily by external forces, context and circumstances such as COVID-19," Behnam told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE. According to him, his main contribution at Taskworld was to facilitate and validate the broader strategy and direction, and implement the necessary repeatable and scalable processes.

Additionally, he was also responsible for reinforcing the world-class team and inculcating a culture of high-performance. This encompassed testing, learning, and invoking curiosity, to collaboration and continuous improvement focused on doing the right things as a matter of process, instead of merely the quick, cosmetic fixes which often do not address the roots of the problem.

"I am proud to say that much of the above was accomplished and/or put into motion successfully. The current team is strong and focused on the right’processes and priorities. The platform is scalable and solid. The rest is about being able to execute day-in-and-day-out. The future is bright for Taskworld and I expect an accelerated evolution of the solution in months to come," Behnam added.

Also, most of the team is based in Bangkok and he has not been able to visit the city since last February. Hence, Behnam said it made sense for the company to transition operational leadership from him, who is based in Singapore, to his business partner and founder of the business, Fred Mouawad, who is based in Bangkok. This way, Mouawad is able to oversee the operation in person.

"Fortunately, Mouawad and I are similar enough - stylistically and strategically - where the change of leaders seems quite natural and smooth. So while the leader has changed, the leadership is generally consistent," Behnam said.

He explained that relying on video-conferencing all the time for a significant operation can be quite challenging and taxing for the team and the leader. According to Behnam, video conferencing is effective from a functional and utility perspective but less effective from a culture, team bonding and chemistry building perspective. "It is just not as natural as you enjoying a cup of coffee with a colleague and having a conversation in a relaxed, casual setting," he added.

On what the key takeaways are from his time at Taskworld, Behnam said while finding and attracting the right talent is hard work in Southeast Asia, it is of the highest importance for success. This is because culture is something that needs to be worked on from the start.

"Good cultures do not happen by accident or organically without effort. Good cultures are proactively nurtured from early on and the principles permeate through everything a company does - cultural values and alignment trump skill level. Being too focused on results alone at the expense of how those results were achieved, is a short term game," he explained.

Elaborating on his future plans, Behnam said he is currently exploring some SaaS businesses, data-focused businesses, fintech and a few offline and online lifestyle concepts. "I’m keeping my exploration wide and broad intentionally. Of course I’ll continue to serve on boards and advise other leaders, entrepreneurs and companies. This is where my main focus will be for the time being," he added.