Tell us more about you and Glean
I started in Glean a couple of months into the pandemic as the Head of Marketing and my role has gradually shifted and expanded over the years. As time went on I took over sales and channel sales, followed by customer success and most recently customer support, pulling together all the different customer facing teams and trying to coordinate our market development efforts.
Working at Glean is an incredibly unique and rewarding experience. I’ve of course worked with many talented people over the years of my career, but Glean has the highest concentration of smart, proactive and collaborative people I’ve ever met. There’s a huge appetite for doing things to a high standard and working together to achieve things cross-functionally. For me that’s a huge differentiator compared to many other places I’ve worked, and it makes it so much easier to achieve things compared to other businesses that are relatively siloed.
I’ve just moved into the COO role, and I think that’s really a recognition at Glean that how we plan for the future, maintain cross-functional alignment, plan and communicate together and make decisions is not only incredibly high value work, but hard work that requires focus and concerted efforts over time across the business to make it happen.
What makes Yorkshire (or the North) special?
I’ve worked in a few cities throughout my career including the capital, and one of the things that’s really apparent in Yorkshire especially and the North more widely is a real sense of community and helping each other to grow.
The tech scene is especially well networked and supportive, with a lot of people putting time and energy into not just driving their own businesses forward, but giving back to others locally, sharing skills and advice, and looking for ways to work together towards common goals or mutually beneficial outcomes.
It’s likely no surprise to anyone that people in Yorkshire and the North are doing business in a “friendlier” way, it’s baked into the culture. But there’s also an acknowledgement by those working in cities that are growing and haven’t benefited from as much historical funding as say London, that growing the economy of the region is good for everyone in the region, and that’s created a really supportive business environment to operate in.
There’s also a lot of growth and development in the North at the moment, so there’s a palpable sense of momentum and excitement that’s really infectious.
What’s your biggest achievement to date?
Towards the end of 2021, I took over the sales team for the first time. This left me responsible for all our revenue growth achievement. With a marketing background, and a large appetite for growth within the organisation this was an incredibly steep learning curve and I quickly discovered that there was more to achieving growth than great sales and marketing tactics.
I quickly realised that levers such as pricing and packaging, upselling to customers and developing new markets were critical to our growth success and had to gain a fast understanding of the revenue levers both within my reporting lines and outside.
One thing that proved critical to success, was understanding that it was going to be impossible to problem solve all these different components alone – and we initiated a commercial meeting that pulled together team leads of all areas that had the biggest impact on our commercial drivers. Together, weekly, we kept close to the market and results and flushed out the biggest blockers to revenue, and problem solved and prioritised together. We built structures that aided faster decision making and distributed work differently amongst teams where needed.
We grew revenue by over 40% in 2022, and more importantly created the foundations of a commercial department that had a lot of shared context, was empowered to make decisions quickly and had much more mature market research and customer feedback loops feeding all our choices. This also allowed us to start building more robust market development processes.
I’m very proud that that one 60-90 minute session per week played an absolutely pivotal role in giving people the clarity and speed of decision making that they needed to succeed. It meant that team leaders could go out and actually capitalise on the opportunities they could see without hesitation or blockers, and I’m confident that’s one factor (among many) that allowed us to achieve such a strong 2022 result.
Where do you find your motivation?
I’m ultimately motivated by people and achievement, so all of my best possible days at work are when individuals or groups of people work hard to achieve something challenging together. I get to experience that sense of pride and satisfaction alongside everyone pulling together.
It’s especially rewarding to see people growing and developing their skills. The best part of any role for me is helping people achieve their goals: setting them up for success and helping them work through blockers and challenges, then watching them go on to achieve success and get the recognition they rightly deserve.
I’m lucky enough to work with some incredibly talented people at Glean, and it’s amazing to get to be a small footnote in these very high achieving people’s journeys.
In your opinion, what’s next for the North?
There’s economic growth and momentum apparent in a lot of the larger cities in the North already and I hope we’ll continue to see business success stories coming out of the North, along with continued investment.
We see a lot of collaboration and community within the major cities already; hopefully as we see more investment in transportation infrastructure, we’ll see more network building and better inter-connectedness between the cities in the North.
The prevalence of remote roles has been much higher in recent years, allowing everyone to tap into wider non-region specific talent pools, but this seems to be swinging back towards hybrid and part time office roles over fully remote. This suggests that it’s still important to be invested in building up the talent pool within the region.
As investment and opportunity grow, it’s important that we all take the time to give back to others in the North, share our skills and advice, and build stronger connections and networks.