Lead(H)er Profile - Christina Arellano, Chief Customer Officer at Acoustic banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Christina Arellano, Chief Customer Officer at Acoustic

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the tech industry. In this Q&A, we are featuring Christina Arellano, Chief Customer Officer at Acoustic


Chris in Paris at the Prince de Galles, overlooking famous Avenue George V

Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I was actually a child of two United States Marines, so I spent my early years in North Carolina, California, and ultimately landed in Arizona which is where my mother’s family is from. Having two Marine Corps parents taught me early on to always do my best and never give up. These core values helped shape me into the person I am today.  

As a child, I was very curious and always wanted to know how things worked. I would spend time taking things apart so I could put them back together. I knew early on in my childhood that I wanted to have a profession that allowed me to be creative, solve problems, and help a business be successful.

I was also an avid sports fan and loved to play competitive team sports. It is through that foundation that I learned the importance of teamwork, collaboration, and hard work.

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

My undergraduate degree was in industrial engineering from Arizona State University (Go Sun Devils!). After I graduated, my official first engineering job was at Motorola serving as a manufacturing engineer in a semiconductor manufacturing facility. The job was in a cleanroom so I had to wear a “bunny suit” from head to toe to prevent contamination of the semiconductors that we were manufacturing. However, the start date for my job wasn’t until two months after my graduation, so I took a job detailing cars at a local auto shop until my official start date arrived at Motorola.

Chris flying over Switzerland/The Swiss Alps

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

After starting my career as a manufacturing engineer at Motorola, I transitioned to FedEx Ground where I was responsible for the Southwest U.S. territory. At FedEx, the philosophy is for leaders to work every job so they understand the different responsibilities and perspectives of the various teams that they support. I’ve taken that philosophy to heart in everything I’ve done.

Following my time at FedEx, I joined American Express where I transitioned from being an individual contributor to a manager for the first time. I was nervous to apply for the position, but realized that no one is born a manager -- at some point, someone had to give them a chance. I was accepted for the position and led all reengineering teams in North America for Amex Business Travel. Now, I love to be able to provide that opportunity to others. 

From there, I entered the executive leadership team for the first time when I joined McKesson. I was able to relocate in the U.S. to three different places and hold various leadership positions during this time, further expanding my skill set. 

Each of these experiences working with Fortune 100 companies helped prepare me in different ways for the scrappier private equity world. Big businesses often have more mature infrastructure and processes than PE-owned companies, which was certainly a culture shock. However, I was able to take the best practices and lessons learned from my time at those big brands and apply them to my role at Acoustic. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I serve as the Chief Customer Officer at Acoustic, an open, independent marketing cloud and analytics provider. In this role, I’m responsible for our Customer Success, Professional Services, and Customer Support functions within the business. Our ultimate goal is to ensure customers have a superior customer experience and are able to fully maximize the value of the solutions and services that we provide.  

Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally?  Was it always your goal to be in this position?

I always knew I wanted to be in business and help companies solve problems, but never imagined that my journey would take me to the role I’m in today. I grew up fairly shy and introverted. Being responsible for customer relationships is a big change from how I originally started my career as an individual contributor working behind the scenes. 

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

I’ve always taken the initiative to improve processes and solve problems without being asked. I believe in the philosophy, “Ask for forgiveness, not permission (within reason).” No one is ever going to be upset with you if you solve a problem for the business.  

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

Dedication, hard work, collaboration, and the mindset of “making the impossible possible.” I believe that everyone needs to challenge the status quo and look for ways to learn from the past so we can improve in the future. I also think having a “get s#&! done” mindset is a must and an incredible superpower if you can get your team rallied behind it.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  

I love mentoring and helping members of my team. To this day, I still have mentoring sessions with people I used to manage many years ago. It is the most rewarding experience to see people grow and accomplish their own personal and career aspirations.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

One of my proudest achievements is the work we were able to accomplish when I worked at Upserve, a hospitality POS business that provides the technology for restaurants to manage front-of-house and back-of-house operations. I joined Upserve a few months prior to the pandemic, and when COVID hit, I wondered if I had made the right choice. The restaurant industry was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, and we had customers going out of business because of it. Yet our goal was to grow Upserve’s business so it could eventually be acquired. 

Despite these challenges, we were able to have that successful exit with a 10x revenue multiple during the height of the pandemic and improve our retention rate by 10% year-over-year. It was an incredible challenge, but I’m very proud of all we were able to accomplish.


Q&A

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to travel with my family and experience new things, places, and food. I consider myself an avid foodie and have a rule not to eat anywhere we could eat at home when we’re traveling. Prior to the pandemic, I was exploring different parts of Europe, but my favorite destination is the one I haven’t visited yet -- I always want to see somewhere new rather than revisit the same places.  

The Swiss Alps

How do you manage stress?

Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed, I try to remember that small wins accrue to larger success. The same goes for your workload: if you look at it holistically, it can overwhelm you, but if you aim to accomplish one thing at a time, it will be much more manageable. 

It’s also important to have a good network of trusted colleagues you can talk to. Spend time speaking with people who can give you an honest perspective. 

Outside of this, make sure you’re prioritizing your health and getting exercise. It’s incredible how much of a difference movement can make in your day.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

Three per day. I have a mandatory two cups in the morning as I start my day and one more shortly after lunch.

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

Yes, a few! Some of my favorite books are What got you here, won’t get you there by Marshall Goldsmith, You are a badass by Jen Sincero, and Customer Success: How Innovative Companies Are Reducing Churn and Growing Recurring Revenue by Nick Mehta.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

Be open to opportunities. I think people can be too focused on looking at a position’s title vs. what they can learn from the job. I never thought I would have a few of the positions I’ve held, but when I saw the scope of the jobs and the responsibilities I would have, they piqued my curiosity and I recognized that they would allow me to learn and grow. Especially when you’re first starting out, it’s critical to absorb as much as possible and be open to the vast possibilities ahead of you.

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