Career Path: Hilary Foley, Director of Customer Operations at Quick Base
What do the career path and the day-in-the-life look like for a Director of Customer Operations at Quick Base?
We connected with Hilary Foley to find out!
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Where did you grow up? What did your parents do for work?
I grew up on both coasts. I spent the early years of my childhood living in a small suburb outside of Boston and then my father moved our family out to San Francisco for a job opportunity when I was about seven years old. I grew up on the west coast before returning back to my roots for college.
Along with finding each other, my parents both found success in the corporate world. My father was the CFO of several publicly traded companies and has a track record of helping grow companies from small startups to large publicly traded organizations. My mother is a former executive on the HR side of the house. She specialized in talent acquisition for public relations firms.
Where did you go to college? What did you study and what were some of your initial jobs out of school?
I went to Boston College and studied communications, dedicating a great deal of my time to research in health communications. I then went on to spend the early part of my career in the healthcare field, working in the Plastic Surgery Department at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and earning a Master’s of Public Health degree at night. I held multiple roles ranging from the executive assistant for a plastic surgeon who was pioneering the first face transplant program in the US to the division’s financial manager, and finally the physician practice manager before I pivoted to the technology side of healthcare.
Just prior to Quick Base, I held a few roles at athenahealth. I managed a customer success team and built out an operations team, centralizing and scaling programs and processes across athena’s customer success org to support the functions of onboarding, talent management, employee engagement, and knowledge management.
What has attributed to your success thus far and has helped propel you to the position you have now?
While I enjoy driving transformation and tend geek out over process improvement, above all, I’m passionate about people. People are what bring me to work every day. They inspire me, and enable me to be better than I was yesterday through the thought partnership and breadth of experience they share.
I think that passion for people has translated into the adoption of a servant leadership philosophy. After several years of managing people, I’ve developed my own spin on servant leadership, which has helped me to turn around what were once struggling portions of an organization and convert them to strongholds. By pouring energy into growing genuine relationships with my direct reports and creating a culture of feedback, I’ve been able to build trust and foster environments that have allowed my teams to excel.
In addition to building a foundation of care to drive employee engagement, I’ve also learned that it takes a tremendous amount of discipline to keep a team aligned on all fronts, create visibility into their work, know the performance metrics inside and out, and leverage that data to shape their influence on the business. When you're able to do that, it's really then that you can prove the value of your team.
Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as Director of Customer Operations at Quickbase?
Customer Operations is a function within our overall GTM Operations and Enablement team. That larger group ensures the GTM org is performing to its best potential, providing business critical insights, creating cross-functional alignment, and driving strategic initiatives to execution.
The Customer Operations Team is focused on providing a simplified infrastructure to align the highest-level organizational priorities with sound day-to-day operations, drive efficiency across the customer journey and keep all teams engaged on customer retention and revenue growth.
We recently spearheaded an initiative to get the GTM org grounded in our value selling methodology and buyer-aligned sales process. We’re now continuing to prioritize initiatives that will improve the effectiveness of our GTM org by aligning everything we do with our customers’ needs and their buying process.
Any tips for someone considering a career in your field of work?
Build connections, forge thought partnerships and learn from the experiences that your network of peers and colleagues can share with you. Find a mentor and never stop learning from them. Leverage their insights, get exposure to new areas of the business, try new projects, and expand your breadth of experience. And most importantly, pay that all forward. Share your knowledge and bring others along.
Day in the Life
Coffee, tea, or nothing?
Boatloads of coffee right up until bedtime.
What time do you get into the office?
Roughly 7:30am, right about the time the first pot of coffee starts brewing at the office.
What are three things that motivate you in your role?
I have a team to lead, an org to support, and processes to improve - all in an effort to positively transform the way we work at Quick Base.
The team of people I work with at Quick Base are easily some of the best folks I’ve ever worked with throughout my career. What's great about my job, is that the people I work with are also my customers. My customers aren't the paying kind. My customers are the GTM teams at Quick Base. Just like it's their goal to delight their customers, it is my goal to delight all of them, simplify the way they do work, both on their own and in partnership with other teams across the business.
Every day is different, but can you outline what a typical day looks like for you?
Back when we used to go into the office, I'd usually wake up around 5:30am, typically awoken by the sounds of one of my young children who always seem eager to beat the sun up. The early morning is spent getting my family ready for the day and then I’m out the door by 6:45am.
I like to get in to the office early to give myself time to get organized for the day before the chaos ensues - I reorient myself to my top priorities, map out what I want to accomplish that day, finish any prep needed for meetings and continue to plug away at my inbox.
Then, the real fun begins! Colleagues trickle into the office, meetings start, people lob ideas and asks, decisions are made, and the needle moves forward. I think it’s fun, because it often feels like my team is at the epicenter of the action, helping to drive transformation each day. As the business changes, so do the requirements of the infrastructure that support it. My team is in a constant state of change - we react to the evolving needs of the business, transform the underlying infrastructure and processes to support it, and manage the resulting changes across the organization. There is never a dull moment.
Then I blink and it's 4pm - time to start wrapping up to get on the road so I can get to daycare on time to pick up my kids!
What time do you head out of the office?
I try to be out the door by 4:30pm so I can get to my second job - parenting 2 young kids :)
Do you log back in at night or do you shut it down completely?
I log back in - I can't help it. Days in the office fly by, and I need the time at night to get organized again, checking off the action items from all those meetings and getting prepped for tomorrow's line-up.
Any productivity hacks?
I turn off email notifications to minimize disruptions when I'm trying to do some strategic thinking or focus on executing some project or deliverable
I like old fashioned to-do lists. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of checking off a box on a hand-written to do-list
What are the 3 apps that you can’t live without?
Quick Base (duh!)
Redfin - I'm house hunting right now
Zoom - It's been a lifesaver these days - I can be away from my computer when I need to juggle meetings and the kids without missing a beat.
What professional accomplishment are you proudest of?
I think employees are the most important piece of any organization and when I reflect on my professional accomplishments, the moments that stand out are the ones in which I was able to help or inspire someone else.
When I first joined Quick Base, I took on a team that presented me with some tough challenges out of the gate as they were struggling with their identity and many had one foot out the door. Those challenges gave me the opportunity to dive in head first, creating a vision, setting goals, and garnering trust to turn that team around. The team had the perception that they were undervalued by the rest of the organization. That prompted me to take a programmatic leadership approach to running that team. I implemented monthly readouts to report on my team's progress against our OKRs, share our success stories and learnings, and iterate on our support model through engaging discussions. These efforts enabled our leadership team to get closer to their work and gave the team a forum in which their voice could be heard and their hard work could be showcased, empowering them to advocate for themselves. As a result, we were able to prove out a strong ROI for our Orientation CSMs and received enthusiastic support to grow that team. We've now tripled the size of that team!
Who do you admire or call upon for professional advice?
I had the privilege of working with Dan McNamara at both athenahealth and Quick Base and can tell you that Dan sets the bar for what it means to be a great leader. Dan has since moved on from Quick Base to the lucky folks at Catalant Technologies, where he serves as VP of their Customer Success org. I say "serves" because Dan is the most genuine servant leader I've known in my career. He truly wants to help people reach their goals and is incredibly successful at motivating his teams. Coming out of a conversation with Dan, I can almost guarantee you will feel re-energized and motivated. He's got a knack for that. He often measures his success in the accomplishments of those he's helped along the way and he'd likely take pride in a situation in which one day he ended up reporting into someone he hired or once managed. He's a great thought leader with a wide breadth of experience to share and an impressive track record of success. For all those reasons, I admire him and continue to call upon him for professional advice.