Expensify’s Anu Muralidharan, A Top 50 Woman Leader in SaaS

Graduating school in 2009, as the world lay witness to a crippling recession, Anuradha Muralidharan feared her professional life in the United States was over before it even began.

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“That was a truly challenging, demoralizing time for me,” she told The Software Report. Having moved over from India, Muralidharan didn’t want to give up on her dreams of finding a job in the US to be in vain. So, she worked ten times harder than she ever did, just to find a foothold while the storm passed. “I cold-called what felt like hundreds of companies before I managed to find a rotational program at Citibank.”

Despite no interest in consumer banking, in August 2009 she began working as a Financial Management Associate at Citi's corporate finance divisions. But what she found was a comprehensive look into the inner workings of a national bank, experience that would prove handy when applying for her dream job.

This is quite ironic, considering that Muralidharan cites her lack of experience in certain areas as one of her biggest strengths. “For years, I led compliance and audits for Expensify,” the world's leading application for expense management, receipt scanning, and business travel, “but I had never done that before,” Muralidharan admits. “I had no baggage, and I found the path of least resistance to get us where we needed to be.” While many wouldn’t have the confidence to lead in such a way, the Director of Product Operations highly recommends this strategy to everyone— “It’s very empowering,” she quips.

Logic, simplicity and hard work have always yielded results for the Fintech leader, so it’s no surprise that she counts on these tenets when it comes to going into battle or simply leading a team.

Across all the companies she’s worked at, including Oracle, ThinkEquity, Citi, and Marqeta, Muralidharan admits “I have consistently seen that people don’t quit jobs rather they quit their manager, or they quit toxic culture.” This realization had a profound effect on her. Since then, she’s been driven to implement this lesson in her leadership style. “As a leader, I believe my duty is to help people grow, realize their potential, find joy in their work and create an impact that they can be proud of,” she beams.

During her five years at Expensify, Muralidharan has helped launch a corporate card for its customers. “I was heavily involved in product design and helped identify the right partners to power the card,” she said. Not only was the launch a huge success, but the company pulled off one of the fastest launches “ever witnessed by our processor.” With 10,000 companies pre-ordering the corporate card, Expensify ran out of cards almost immediately after the launch. The success of the product even exceeded their own expectations. “The launch galvanized our company like never before,” Muralidharan says proudly, “as every department brought forth an immense effort to put this product together to where it is today.”

At the heart of what makes Muralidharan a force of nature is her adept ability to multitask. Juggling two or even three projects at any given time, rather than feel overwhelmed she feels invigorated by the variety which “keeps me on my toes and enables me to be effective. She also adds that, “Expensify is a very unique company and unlike most workplaces, you can achieve this degree of diversification in your role here.”

And while Muralidharan loves balancing a multitude of tasks at any one time, she makes it a priority to take time out to relax with her family. “I am a huge sucker for wine country,” she remarks. “Not that I’m a wine connoisseur or anything, but I love sitting in the sun and sharing a bottle with my husband and my dog, who is a teetotaler of course!”