Inside Audible

Abhinav Mathur on Leading Purpose-Driven Teams

Abhinav Mathur is seen wearing a blue and red checked button-down shirt, looking straight at camera and smiling. The background behind him is blurred out.

Abhinav Mathur joined Audible in 2014 after leadership roles in finance and technology companies in Australia, where he grew up and attended university. Although he began his career as a software development engineer, he was interested in having more of a direct hand in customer experiences and brought that passion to our organization, where he was first Director, then Senior Vice President of our customer care teams worldwide. One of the innovative programs that has evolved under his leadership is Cornerstone, which develops and hires Newark jobseekers, creating sustainable career opportunities for those who may be traditionally overlooked by the industry.

In 2020, Mathur’s role expanded to include our newly launched Global Center for Urban Development (GCUD), which focuses on advancing equity, racial justice, and economic empowerment in the cities where Audible operates. Mathur shares what he loves about this work, his methods for maintaining balance, and important life lessons he learned from his travels.

What have you found most helpful for balancing a leadership role with your personal and family life?

Being hyper-focused on priorities and trusting the team to apply their superpowers to make it real. The key for me is keeping a clear mind, using my time effectively, and rigorously doing the basics each day. This includes ruthlessly prioritizing which meetings I attend (and more importantly don’t attend), finishing the day with zero emails in my inbox, and staying connected to my entire org through consistent check-ins with my directs, skip levels, coffee chats, and informal meetings. I’m a systems-and-routine kind of person, so repeatable patterns are important to me and help with balance. For example, every Sunday night, I write down three non-negotiable goals for the week and do my best to achieve them. I don’t believe in to-do lists. I also approach personal and family goals in the same way. Although things come up, I ensure my week includes cooking dinner three nights, daily runs, workouts, and yoga, learning one new thing each week, making time to Facetime with family back in Australia, evenings outside with my partner and our dog, and getting to bed by 9 p.m.

What do you like best about your work?

It’s not often that a company wonderfully intersects between technology, creative pursuit, customer focus, social purpose, collaborative and inclusive culture, state-of-the art amenities and perks, and brilliant people. The way all these aspects are equally prioritized is quite rare, and that’s what I like best about Audible. Specifically, I’m so honored to play a role in both our business and company’s purpose. Through customer care, I get to be part of directly interacting and influencing our listeners. Through the GCUD, I get to drive this idea that what a company means can transcend what it does. I also get to engage with and learn from some of the smartest people across Audible. There are just so many reasons to love my work!

What are some “left turns” you took in your career journey?

I’ve taken a few. My career started as a software development engineer but I found thinking about customer experiences more interesting than hardcore coding. So I became a product manager. Because I’m quite organized and enjoy making things better, my mentor pointed me to switch careers into Lean Six Sigma Business Process Improvement. Then, a few months into joining Audible, I got the opportunity to lead customer care operations. A couple of years ago, I was afforded the privilege of leading Audible’s GCUD. So it seems like I’m taking left turns all the time! I feel truly lucky and grateful to have leaders and mentors around me who keep encouraging me to try new things and support me in my neverending quest to learn as much as I can.

If you could travel back in time, where would you land?

I spent 18 months backpacking through South America, on $30 a day, where I met some of the most interesting people from around the world who taught me so much during the brief spells we were together. I spent my time teaching kids in villages and living amongst the locals. They didn’t have much but they were some of the happiest people I’ve ever met. I also learned the biggest life lesson for free—those with little tend to give the most. Those are some of my happiest memories and I’d love to relive them.

Who would you invite to your dinner party of your dreams?

Shane Warne (Australian cricketer), Eliud Kipchoge (Kenyan long-distance runner), Indira Gandhi (first and only female Prime Minister of India).

Lightning Round

Coffee or tea? Neither. Water or Hot Chocolate. And occasionally I cheat with a Pepsi or a Coke!

Morning person or night owl? 5:30 a.m., every morning. Summer and winter. Weekdays and weekends. No exceptions.

Where are you working from currently? Manhattan, New York and our Newark Hub. Fully embracing the hybrid way of working.

How long have you been with Audible? Eight years.

Who is your biggest inspiration, career-wise? Not the biggest inspiration per se, but reading John Wood’s Leaving Microsoft to Change the World had a meaningful influence on my career choices.

Dine in or take out? Dine in. I love experimenting in the kitchen.

Favorite weekend activity? Saturday morning long run with my running team. Nothing like getting a few miles in while most of the world is still sleeping!

Favorite Audible listen? Impossible to pick just one! I guess I’ll go with The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon. It’s a fascinating story about a mid-level NASA engineer who figured out how to get to the moon.

The Man Who Knew the Way to the Moon cover art
The Man Who Knew the Way to the MoonBy: Todd Zwillich / Narrated by: Todd Zwillich, Angelo Di Loreto