The Pavilion Podcast
The Pavilion Podcast

Episode · 1 year 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 the revenue Collection podcast. I'm your host, Brandon martin, you're listening to is this go to the show where I asked revenue collected members some really easy questions And they have great answers in a short 15 minute conversation, chose her out Tuesdays and thursday. So please hit subscribe. So you do not miss the opportunity to hear from amazing experts. Our guest today is laurel Okwara, she is a customer success pro who has led teams in places like softbank, robotics and IBM and we talked about just that being non techie and a deep tech company. This episode is brought to you by quarterback. The commission tracking software built for sales operations, finance and accounting teams. Running commissions and payroll. Has you running for the hills Photo path is for you. Quarter past helps organizations track and manage commissions and pay their teams accurately. And on time every time. Keep your team motivated and on target. Simplify your commissions at quarter past dot com slash revenue dash collective and give your 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 acquire here. We're gonna talk some robots. Laura was formerly the the director of customer success at Softbank robotics America and um, I, that's, that's, I'm like really excited to talk about machines that move around and stuff. So I'm psyched to have you. Thank you so much for having me. Brandon. Great. So we always just try to jump right in. I'll meet no filler. So laura tell us about your career. What's gotten you all the way to the point that you are now? Yes, I have this incredible 13 years of experience and client management and it's really split in half. I started my career in events and marketing and I'm going to get into this a little bit later. But definitely a recession kid I guess is what we're referring to ourselves and that I graduated right before 2008 and so how...

...this career in events and marketing and then leverage my MBA To switch into technology companies. So the last 16 years I've been now both sales and post sales and managing clients, delivering technology solutions and doing a lot of fun things. And all of this led the last six years I've actually been obsessed with artificial intelligence machine 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 people listening that are like, I think robots and machine learning is cool, but they also say, I don't know what the heck I would do in a company like that because maybe 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 just said, 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 imposter syndrome and so one of the biggest ways to go up against engineers is have all this technology education and so I don't have the degrees, but I spent a ton of time with technical architects, engineers learning as much as I can because I want to be the most confident and intelligent and technical in the room alongside the people so you definitely can learn it. I really believe that getting the technology companies, they need great relationship and client managers and so if you come in with that and then have the curiosity to learn and then also rely on the skill sets of the others in the room. You come in as this big team that can do a lot. So I'm always encouraging for people that are non technical to join companies. Talk to companies like this because definitely when I was recruiting, we definitely got a subset of people and we could go much broader than that. So I actually did a lot of proactive recruiting to make sure we're getting people that would be great at our company that might not traditionally look at it. Yeah, I I mean I I have had this feeling myself and a number of, I've always been involved in restaurant tech and I am...

...obsessed with restaurants and restaurant tech. And then occasionally I've said to myself, well what would it be like to go do you know, blank Bitcoin? It's like I like where that like this is years ago. Of course because they could still played out at this point. I don't know, 2021. Uh Maybe I should say N. F. T. S. Like right now like I love NFC and again like by the time this goes up maybe LFTs are like done because who knows? But like all I want to do is get all the all the NBA top shop packs possible. Like anyway, I love that advice. That's great. And so you're just saying go approach it with the skills you have and get involved. So yeah, what's going on? Just give me like give our listeners, 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 like the boston dynamics, scary robots who like do nice things like open doors and they used to fall over and now they like run and jump. I mean the technology is moving really fast and I think number one what I loved about my role itself things so I lead customer success for a product that was doing autonomous vacuuming. So take what you're at home robotics are and put it at scale for commercial spaces. So that's where I'm interested in some great task automation. We always talk about things are being automated all the time around us, whether it fits into an actual we consider and define a robot. Your dishwasher is automated, your laundry. We're always looking ways to 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 business cases are. Manufacturing obviously is already proven that out. But I'm less well, boston dynamics is incredibly brilliant company and technology and what they're doing with spot and being able to put robotics in places where it's at risk of people. I'm really interested in those use cases and I think revenue is going to be coming...

...continuously in the market opportunity is huge. And what we were able to do with robotics during covid is just quite incredible to create a safer environment for people when especially social distance, distance seems important. But then the safety and environment is really clear. So for me it was and is a huge market opportunity and we're going to see a lot more of it coming and a lot more case studies that we 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 my image from now on. Um So look hard work and luck contribute to get new, getting people to where they are. Give me a story of either one or both in your career. Sure. So I leverage my M. B. A. To get out of events and marketing. I love the project management skill sets there and I was hustling new york city really making no money and wanting the next step career wise. And I knew an NBA was important to get into Baroque. Barrack is one of the top affordable schools out there in the nation and they were fantastic program and it's really finance driven. So to get talking to tech companies, recruiters aren't coming at the time to knock on the doors of students. So I get into this NBA conference and I'm with the people in the world that are, there's a lot of us out there and I hate the hustle obsession, but it is true that if you don't come with all the pedigree and all the things you've got to stand out and so before this NBA conference, I have mapped out the top five places I'm going to get in front of and IBM spit on my list, going to go after the consulting and I end up being in line and I'm talking with different people and a recruiter comes up to me and it speaks to me about their consultative selling program. IBM IBM still invest...

...in their graduated undergraduate students. And so we start talking and obviously my pitch is going, well brings me in and then I get this interview with Krista Hickson phenomenal IBM leader for client sales and she's hired for health care and I'm told I don't have the background in health care, okay, It's not going to work out. A few weeks later, she calls me up, she moves to Apple client director of Apple wants me on this position and I can only speak to the fact that being in the right place at the right time and all my hard work of getting my pitch down, getting my story down and showcasing how all my skill sets could be transferrable. It just took a ton of help and practice and thank God for all the people that had informational interviews and help me prep. 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 this and this is already almost seven years ago, Ginny Rometty and Tim Cook are about to announce our partnership and my boss calls me and says come on down to Apple, I can't tell you anything and I get there, go into the auditorium and then they're on stage and there, it's just a moment that you don't think a lot about how to large companies and someone that doesn't have a tech ground background, what that feels like to see them announcing a partnership and then to be a client. Exactly on that count running sales. So sometimes in life obviously, you know, you talked this with other people before, hard work obviously leads to some really lucky opportunities and I had no idea obviously that Apple and IBM would be opening up this massive enterprise partnership. I love the stories that have both of them in it because it really is both. It is, it is and I just, I always like to you know, emphasize to people listening maybe those of you...

...younger in your career like it does take these magical that second phone call it's like a movie you got, you were 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, I should have taken that healthcare course or like whatever and all of a sudden 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 be CS 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 customer success, we're obsessed with outcomes. And so whether you're pre sales, post sales asking the right questions and qualifying and digging further. It's really hard to understand. And especially when you're not meeting in person, what's motivating what their challenges are. Yes, you can read and prep for all of that, but really digging in and creating a threat of what a client's sharing to you. I compare it a lot of people due to being a doctor. And so if you come in with a problem, my elbow hurts and then you find out that your whole arm there's something wrong with it. Same thing goes with what clients are trying to solve and for CS you're trying to solve those outcomes. And one of the things I wrote about in addition is the fact that if you can get access to gone or any type of software out there that only records you, but then has machine learning in it, you can quickly learn Are you interrupting too quickly? Are you speaking too much on your sales or CS calls? This is a great tactic. And what I love about it is that you're continuously improving and upping your game. But then you listen to other people's calls. You take the best from your company and then you start pulling the messaging together as a CS leader. This was always my favorite part is how can we make sure marketing, sales support and CSR all lined up? And so as an individual contributor, the more that you improvise you learn and take from others, the great things that...

...they're doing that work with sales and a 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 like sports, you're always looking at video, right? Every like every sports team looks at video of the other team and video of their own team to see what they're doing wrong and, and you know, it's not like we always do this in sales or marketing or CS or whatever, so great. Alright, speed round um, what are you going to be hiring for in the future? CFM? I love customer success. I moved to customer success and post sales and so I will be hiring for customer success manager. So stay tuned, love it. Great. And give some shout outs who do you appreciate their content and or you know, and also who are some folks who are up and comers that you wanna give some love to. There is so much great content and customer success right now and I am so excited to promote these folks. So grow gain, retain is the customer success community for all things just, you gotta challenge in post sales and what you're trying to solve anything from customer advisory boards to how to for manage your team or even be an individual contributor and grow your clients. That's the place to go. It's run by J Nathan and Jeff. So definitely check that out. And then I got on linkedin, Christie, Voltaire, Rousseau Miranda, an does Ganske do amazing customer success tips. And then the last few things, there's a c. S leadership group on slack, definitely find that just because it's a fantastic networking and then last two things CS insider and then women in CS podcast. So there's a lot happening and I love it all. We're not going to be able to work at all. We're just going to be consuming 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 and they have a lot of extra time on their...

...hands if they're not community, how much you have Children, unless you have Children and then please come in, you know, we're not going to go into me crying about this and so fine. Uh so any up and comers to just give some love to. Absolutely! So my former team, they're fantastic Maria libyan Charity Rodgers, Ben, Weightless, Jim, Gonzalez and Hawaiian Wolfgramm. They are powerhouse. So the team at Softbank love 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 doing fantastic work to help grow the people that are entering attack. I think that's really important. I love your question. There are so many roles in very deep technology companies that require skill sets that are not technical. So join up for those types of things. I love that. All right. And while 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 your restaurant recommendation? You're out in san Francisco. You're in a great town for food. Yeah, I'm gonna give you my next door neighbor's Aqua teen. Go see leo their food, their muscles, everything is phenomenal. He knows the wine list up and down. I am their weekly. So you may hate to steer a place that I'm so often but I love them to death. And I love supporting local businesses of course. But their food and wine selections to die for. I love it. We will be going to Aquitaine now and forever and we will see you there when, when we are there. So laura. So good to chat with. You cannot wait to see what you are doing next And uh really excited just to kind of watch your, you know, the rest of your career. Thank you so much. Great. Great having this conversation. Thank you. All right. That's our show. Thank you so much for listening. 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? I would love to hear from you. Secret Easter egg and episode 27 here a reminder. This episode was brought to you by quarter past quarter path is the first radically transparent and and compensation solution from sales reps of finance get started for free at quarterback dot com slash revenue dash collected. I had a lot of fun today. Hope you did too. Now go crush those numbers. Say something. Mhm.

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