The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 6 months ago

Ep 76: Non-Tech leader in Deep Tech Companies w/ Laura Lakhwara

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Ep 76: Non-Tech leader in Deep Tech Companies w/ Laura Lakhwara

Part of the "Is This a Good Time?" Series hosted by Brandon Barton.

Hello everyone and welcome back to therevenue Collection podcast. I'm your host, Brandon martin, you're listeningto is this go to the show where I asked revenue collected members some reallyeasy questions And they have great answers in a short 15 minuteconversation, chose her out Tuesdays and thursday. So please hit subscribe.So you do not miss the opportunity to hear from amazing experts. Our guesttoday is laurel Okwara, she is a customer success pro who has led teamsin places like softbank, robotics and IBM and we talked about just that beingnon techie and a deep tech company. This episode is brought to you byquarterback. The commission tracking software built for sales operations,finance and accounting teams. Running commissions and payroll. Has yourunning for the hills Photo path is for you. Quarter past helps organizationstrack and manage commissions and pay their teams accurately. And on timeevery time. Keep your team motivated and on target. Simplify yourcommissions at quarter past dot com slash revenue dash collective and giveyour reps the gift of transparency. All right, let's do this one. Episode 27.Is this a good time? Alright everyone, I'm so excited to have laurel acquirehere. We're gonna talk some robots. Laura was formerly the the director ofcustomer success at Softbank robotics America and um, I, that's, that's, I'mlike really excited to talk about machines that move around and stuff. SoI'm psyched to have you. Thank you so much for having me. Brandon. Great. Sowe always just try to jump right in. I'll meet no filler. So laura tell usabout your career. What's gotten you all the way to the point that you arenow? Yes, I have this incredible 13 years of experience and clientmanagement and it's really split in half. I started my career in events andmarketing and I'm going to get into this a little bit later. But definitelya recession kid I guess is what we're referring to ourselves and that Igraduated right before 2008 and so how...

...this career in events and marketing andthen leverage my MBA To switch into technology companies. So the last 16years I've been now both sales and post sales and managing clients, deliveringtechnology solutions and doing a lot of fun things. And all of this led thelast six years I've actually been obsessed with artificial intelligencemachine learning and ended up leading me to work in robotics at Softbank, wow.And just like, I mean, you know, I think that there are other peoplelistening that are like, I think robots and machine learning is cool, but theyalso say, I don't know what the heck I would do in a company like that becausemaybe I don't, maybe I have just a skill set of sales or customer success.Like did you have to have any knowledge of this stuff going into it or you justsaid, hey, I'm going to take what I know and apply it to this job. Yeah,very good question. I am a definitely big believer. I naturally have impostersyndrome and so one of the biggest ways to go up against engineers is have allthis technology education and so I don't have the degrees, but I spent aton of time with technical architects, engineers learning as much as I canbecause I want to be the most confident and intelligent and technical in theroom alongside the people so you definitely can learn it. I reallybelieve that getting the technology companies, they need great relationshipand client managers and so if you come in with that and then have thecuriosity to learn and then also rely on the skill sets of the others in theroom. You come in as this big team that can do a lot. So I'm always encouragingfor people that are non technical to join companies. Talk to companies likethis because definitely when I was recruiting, we definitely got a subsetof people and we could go much broader than that. So I actually did a lot ofproactive recruiting to make sure we're getting people that would be great atour company that might not traditionally look at it. Yeah, I Imean I I have had this feeling myself and a number of, I've always beeninvolved in restaurant tech and I am...

...obsessed with restaurants andrestaurant tech. And then occasionally I've said to myself, well what would itbe like to go do you know, blank Bitcoin? It's like I like where thatlike this is years ago. Of course because they could still played out atthis point. I don't know, 2021. Uh Maybe I should say N. F. T. S. Likeright now like I love NFC and again like by the time this goes up maybeLFTs are like done because who knows? But like all I want to do is get allthe all the NBA top shop packs possible. Like anyway, I love that advice. That'sgreat. And so you're just saying go approach it with the skills you haveand get involved. So yeah, what's going on? Just give me like give ourlisteners, we talk about sales a lot. We don't talk about robots a lot.What's going on with robots. Because I see I see like everybody else does likethe boston dynamics, scary robots who like do nice things like open doors andthey used to fall over and now they like run and jump. I mean thetechnology is moving really fast and I think number one what I loved about myrole itself things so I lead customer success for a product that was doingautonomous vacuuming. So take what you're at home robotics are and put itat scale for commercial spaces. So that's where I'm interested in somegreat task automation. We always talk about things are being automated allthe time around us, whether it fits into an actual we consider and define arobot. Your dishwasher is automated, your laundry. We're always looking waysto take away task and when we focus on that, that's what I'm excited by.That's where the industry is going to move and that's where the businesscases are. Manufacturing obviously is already proven that out. But I'm lesswell, boston dynamics is incredibly brilliant company and technology andwhat they're doing with spot and being able to put robotics in places whereit's at risk of people. I'm really interested in those use cases and Ithink revenue is going to be coming...

...continuously in the market opportunityis huge. And what we were able to do with robotics during covid is justquite incredible to create a safer environment for people when especiallysocial distance, distance seems important. But then the safety andenvironment is really clear. So for me it was and is a huge market opportunityand we're going to see a lot more of it coming and a lot more case studies thatwe already know are in our home, that we're going to see in our works too.Yeah, I like that. I like to me that's a nicer kinder way to think about. It.Is all the stuff I hate doing at home is just going to be jettisoned right?Like an automated somehow. Cool. Alright. That's that's that will be myimage from now on. Um So look hard work and luck contribute to get new, gettingpeople to where they are. Give me a story of either one or both in yourcareer. Sure. So I leverage my M. B. A. To get out of events and marketing. Ilove the project management skill sets there and I was hustling new york cityreally making no money and wanting the next step career wise. And I knew anNBA was important to get into Baroque. Barrack is one of the top affordableschools out there in the nation and they were fantastic program and it'sreally finance driven. So to get talking to tech companies, recruitersaren't coming at the time to knock on the doors of students. So I get intothis NBA conference and I'm with the people in the world that are, there's alot of us out there and I hate the hustle obsession, but it is true thatif you don't come with all the pedigree and all the things you've got to standout and so before this NBA conference, I have mapped out the top five placesI'm going to get in front of and IBM spit on my list, going to go after theconsulting and I end up being in line and I'm talking with different peopleand a recruiter comes up to me and it speaks to me about their consultativeselling program. IBM IBM still invest...

...in their graduated undergraduatestudents. And so we start talking and obviously my pitch is going, wellbrings me in and then I get this interview with Krista Hicksonphenomenal IBM leader for client sales and she's hired for health care and I'mtold I don't have the background in health care, okay, It's not going towork out. A few weeks later, she calls me up, she moves to Apple clientdirector of Apple wants me on this position and I can only speak to thefact that being in the right place at the right time and all my hard work ofgetting my pitch down, getting my story down and showcasing how all my skillsets could be transferrable. It just took a ton of help and practice andthank God for all the people that had informational interviews and help meprep. But then the luck comes in so I joined and I fly out to san Francisco,they moved me out and I still get chills, I still get chills from thisand this is already almost seven years ago, Ginny Rometty and Tim Cook areabout to announce our partnership and my boss calls me and says come on downto Apple, I can't tell you anything and I get there, go into the auditorium andthen they're on stage and there, it's just a moment that you don't think alot about how to large companies and someone that doesn't have a tech groundbackground, what that feels like to see them announcing a partnership and thento be a client. Exactly on that count running sales. So sometimes in lifeobviously, you know, you talked this with other people before, hard workobviously leads to some really lucky opportunities and I had no ideaobviously that Apple and IBM would be opening up this massive enterprisepartnership. I love the stories that have both of them in it because itreally is both. It is, it is and I just, I always like to you know, emphasize topeople listening maybe those of you...

...younger in your career like it doestake these magical that second phone call it's like a movie you got, youwere probably you know, pretty bummed for a week that that there was nothing,you know, you didn't have a healthcare background. Maybe even like damn it, Ishould have taken that healthcare course or like whatever and all of asudden you put the thing and it's a dream. I love it. I love it. I love it.I love it. Written for the movie is beautiful. Well give us this could beCS it doesn't have to be seen as a marketing related. Give us a tactic,give us something that people can use like tomorrow. Absolutely. So customersuccess, we're obsessed with outcomes. And so whether you're pre sales, postsales asking the right questions and qualifying and digging further. It'sreally hard to understand. And especially when you're not meeting inperson, what's motivating what their challenges are. Yes, you can read andprep for all of that, but really digging in and creating a threat ofwhat a client's sharing to you. I compare it a lot of people due to beinga doctor. And so if you come in with a problem, my elbow hurts and then youfind out that your whole arm there's something wrong with it. Same thinggoes with what clients are trying to solve and for CS you're trying to solvethose outcomes. And one of the things I wrote about in addition is the factthat if you can get access to gone or any type of software out there thatonly records you, but then has machine learning in it, you can quickly learnAre you interrupting too quickly? Are you speaking too much on your sales orCS calls? This is a great tactic. And what I love about it is that you'recontinuously improving and upping your game. But then you listen to otherpeople's calls. You take the best from your company and then you start pullingthe messaging together as a CS leader. This was always my favorite part is howcan we make sure marketing, sales support and CSR all lined up? And so asan individual contributor, the more that you improvise you learn and takefrom others, the great things that...

...they're doing that work with sales anda tribute to yourself and practice that the better I love this. This is great.I really appreciate the idea of like that in, let's say like things likesports, you're always looking at video, right? Every like every sports teamlooks at video of the other team and video of their own team to see whatthey're doing wrong and, and you know, it's not like we always do this insales or marketing or CS or whatever, so great. Alright, speed round um, whatare you going to be hiring for in the future? CFM? I love customer success. Imoved to customer success and post sales and so I will be hiring forcustomer success manager. So stay tuned, love it. Great. And give some shoutouts who do you appreciate their content and or you know, and also whoare some folks who are up and comers that you wanna give some love to. Thereis so much great content and customer success right now and I am so excitedto promote these folks. So grow gain, retain is the customer successcommunity for all things just, you gotta challenge in post sales and whatyou're trying to solve anything from customer advisory boards to how to formanage your team or even be an individual contributor and grow yourclients. That's the place to go. It's run by J Nathan and Jeff. So definitelycheck that out. And then I got on linkedin, Christie, Voltaire, RousseauMiranda, an does Ganske do amazing customer success tips. And then thelast few things, there's a c. S leadership group on slack, definitelyfind that just because it's a fantastic networking and then last two things CSinsider and then women in CS podcast. So there's a lot happening and I loveit all. We're not going to be able to work at all. We're just going to beconsuming this content all day. Well they can choose what's relevant to you,but I do think it's a fun time and content because people are at home andthey have a lot of extra time on their...

...hands if they're not community, howmuch you have Children, unless you have Children and then please come in, youknow, we're not going to go into me crying about this and so fine. Uh soany up and comers to just give some love to. Absolutely! So my former team,they're fantastic Maria libyan Charity Rodgers, Ben, Weightless, Jim, Gonzalezand Hawaiian Wolfgramm. They are powerhouse. So the team at Softbanklove them to death. And then there's a new women in CS group Laura and Lauren.I like the owls apparently. And I'm going to support them. They are doingfantastic work to help grow the people that are entering attack. I thinkthat's really important. I love your question. There are so many roles invery deep technology companies that require skill sets that are nottechnical. So join up for those types of things. I love that. All right. Andwhile this conversation was fun, it's all about this question to me. I don't.The other stuff is great. That's for the listeners for me. Where is yourrestaurant recommendation? You're out in san Francisco. You're in a greattown for food. Yeah, I'm gonna give you my next door neighbor's Aqua teen. Gosee leo their food, their muscles, everything is phenomenal. He knows thewine list up and down. I am their weekly. So you may hate to steer aplace that I'm so often but I love them to death. And I love supporting localbusinesses of course. But their food and wine selections to die for. I loveit. We will be going to Aquitaine now and forever and we will see you therewhen, when we are there. So laura. So good to chat with. You cannot wait tosee what you are doing next And uh really excited just to kind of watchyour, you know, the rest of your career. Thank you so much. Great. Great havingthis conversation. Thank you. All right. That's our show. Thank you so much forlistening. If you love the show, please...

...write a review, send it to your friends.Hit us up. Send me a message. You know how many guests that want to join? Iwould love to hear from you. Secret Easter egg and episode 27 here areminder. This episode was brought to you by quarter past quarter path is thefirst radically transparent and and compensation solution from sales repsof finance get started for free at quarterback dot com slash revenue dashcollected. I had a lot of fun today. Hope you did too. Now go crush thosenumbers. Say something. Mhm.

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