Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I grew up in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania. We had a lot of freedom to enjoy the mountains and lakes where we grew up. As a child I was a rule follower and a people pleaser. I liked to have fun but had to be in the lines.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I studied International Business, with a focus on Accounting and Minor in Japanese. My first job out of college was Andersen Consulting in New York City and I was staffed on a project at Marsh and McLennan as my first client. I thought I would be assigned to that project for 6 months, hop around to different companies and industries, but I ended up taking on various roles including Program Management, Developer, Tester, BA, led development teams and conversion teams and stayed at that client for over 3 years.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I started my first job at Andersen Consulting after college and never left. I worked in Andersen Consulting’s consulting practice, which became Accenture, implementing core systems for insurance, reinsurance and capital market customers for about 12 years. During the last few years, I worked in the Accenture Quality and Process Improvement program, guiding project teams on best practices and ensuring projects were meeting CMMI certification standards. My next role was within the Accenture Software group, where I worked with several organizations to integrate acquisitions into the division. One of the products we worked with was Accenture Claims, where I got reconnected with several members from my first project at Marsh. I was asked to take on a role leading the QA, BA, and Documentation teams for Accenture Claims in 2009. In 2011, we acquired Duck Creek. I continued leading various engineering teams, including QA, Support, Release Management, Dev Ops, Performance Test, UX and Technical Writing through 2018 across the Duck Creek suite of products.
In 2018, I was approached to take on a new challenge leading our customer facing support organization for our growing Cloud customer base as well as OnPrem customers. Many across the organization thought I was crazy for even considering the role, but with challenge comes tremendous opportunity to improve our business, and my teams and I have been able to experience the rewards together. Although apprehensive at first, I have never been so passionate about our company, the role our team plays as our customers advocates and how we help them achieve success.
After I had my first child, in 2002, I started working part-time 3.5 days a week and was fortunate enough to continue part-time, after my son was born in 2005, and for several more years. I was always very goal oriented, and I struggled the most during this time. I was trying to be the best parent, wife, friend, daughter, sister and employee. I was also taking care of my terminally ill father 1000 miles away. It was very difficult. I felt like I did not fit in the stay-at-home mom role. There wasn’t a part-time mom’s group. And I didn’t feel like I could advance in my career being part-time. My part-time status was always a consideration when it came to performance cycles. I felt like I was on pause. However, I do not regret it and would do it all over again to spend that precious time with my kids. Well, I would do it a little differently now that I am older and hopefully wiser. I learned there is no set path, you choose the one that is right for you. I made the choice to focus on raising my family and knew the consulting lifestyle and commuting from NYC every day, was not going to allow me to be the mom I wanted to be. And that meant taking a step back from my career.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
As SVP of Customer Success at Duck Creek Technologies, I am responsible for the teams of passionate technology professionals who focus on customer experience and ensuring our customers achieve their business and IT outcomes using our software. The team of Customer Success Managers and Customer Success Engineers are advocates to the customer for the duration of the customer’s contract from kickoff through post Go-Live production phase. Our team of Onboarding Success Managers focus on ensuring the customer is trained on our proven Cloud standards, guide in preparation for go-live with speed and minimal risk and are operationally ready in production to drive value. Our upgrade team works with customers to keep them current and getting value from the latest versions of our software. Our migration team supports our OnPrem customers moving to the Cloud. And lastly, our Customer Success Ops team enables all our organization to focus on driving proactive strategic value to our customers through standardized playbooks, communication, metrics, and analysis.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
Definitely not. At one point as a child, I thought I wanted to be a dentist like my grandfather and uncle. After living in Japan and learning Japanese in high school as an exchange student, I wanted to focus on using language in business. While I have had occasional opportunities to leverage language for short projects, I have not used it in my day to day job. Even so, that incredible experience and my appreciation for people of all cultures and backgrounds is something I am privileged to leverage everyday at Duck Creek and across our customers and SI partners. I love people and nothing makes me happier than to see them thrive and succeed.
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?
Never sacrifice what you believe in to achieve success. You won’t be happy if you are not true to who you are.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
Empathy, listening, integrity, data driven decision making, and being action oriented.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s the most challenging?
Every day is different and brings a new challenge. This is what I find most rewarding because there is nothing monotonous or predictable about any given day – it is also what is the most challenging. This is software and there is no defect free software that meets 100% of every customer’s needs out of the box…and our customers have complex businesses. As a result, I am constantly growing and learning from others, our customers, and colleagues. I have been honored to be presented with new challenging opportunities throughout my career, which I find extremely fulfilling. There is nothing more gratifying than solving complex problems and seeing customers succeed. There is also nothing more rewarding as a leader than seeing your team members achieve their goals and full potential, whether it is overcoming an obstacle, getting recognition from a customer, or getting a promotion and advancing in their career.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
Co-founding the Women’s Resource Group at Duck Creek in 2020. It was the first Employee Resource Group (ERG). With a couple new ERGs launching, we are now at 7 and counting. I continue to be the executive sponsor of the WRG (now at 350 members globally), and a member of the Employee Experience Council.
Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?
I am a member of Athena Alliance and various Customer Success related communities and networks. My husband and I will be empty nesters next year, so I hope to volunteer more consistently, however, I currently support a local organization called Blessing Bag Brigades, donate blood, volunteer, and support various other local school and community events.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy time with family and friends…we love to travel, go to the beach, play tennis, run, bike, ski, go someplace new or try a new adventure.
How do you manage stress?
Exercise. As much as I say I hate to run, when I am stressed, I feel so much better after a great run or playing tennis. Humor always helps. When I stress, it helps to look back at another time I felt overwhelmed or stressed, and remind myself how everything worked out. Deep breaths and reminding myself that ‘this too shall pass’ often helps.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
Too many. I try to stick to one pot of the (fairly large) French Press I make every morning. I am the only coffee drinker in my house, so if it is there, I drink it.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
Latest read: Chief Customer Officer playbook, Podcast: Women in Tech, the Double Shift
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
You can pave any path forward you desire. Details from your past, where you grew up and where you went to school does not define you. It is your work ethic, attitude, energy, passion, and moral values that define you and will bring you success and happiness. Stay true to who you are, and you can achieve anything.