Lead(H)er: Renee Bochman, Vice President of Customer Engagement at Salsify
Renee Bochman discovered her knack for translation as a customer support specialist, but not in the way you might think. Instead of translating different languages, she was working to connect business, technology, and customer needs in a way that made sense to both the company and the client.
“I found it very easy to communicate with customers, and I really enjoyed helping them solve problems while also solving the problems within the organization,” she said.
That realization ultimately led to a career in customer support. Bochman has held many titles, each naming her the director or vice president of something like customer service, client services, or customer experience. Her latest is Vice President of Customer Engagement at Salsify, a popular product experience management platform
Bochman oversees three teams within the customer success department. Her customer champions -- Salsify’s name for traditional customer service reps -- help clients learn how to use Salsify to achieve their goals, while the services team assists with configuration and implementation to make sure everything is running the way it should. Finally, there are program architects, who drive global strategy and customer operations to scale Salsify’s products.
The desire to help companies scale up is what drew Bochman to Salsify in the first place. After several years in customer services, she began to make stronger connections between problem-solving for customers and companies.
“My real skill is being able to look at companies when they’re going into a real growth mode and trying to figure out how to go from startup to scale while still driving the same level of service,” she said.
To put that skill to good use, Bochman made a hard left turn in her career and joined a Series A startup. After several years at more established companies like Acquia and Hewlett-Packard, Bochman wanted to see what it was like to start from scratch, rather than make the leap to scale.
Eventually, Bochman found that her true passion did lie in that startup-to-scale space, and she spent the next several years of her career helping companies level up.
“I enjoy the opportunity to move the needle,” she said. “I like the agility and agency of being able to control my destiny by working at a startup at that stage, and I also like the pressure.”
Bochman’s recipe for success reaches back to her customer service roots. For her, the success of an organization depends on its ability to connect with clients.
That’s why Bochman still spends so much of her workday talking to customers and understanding their needs. By learning about their organizational goals and challenges, she can report back to her team and begin identifying and building solutions.
Maintaining that strong connection with customers as companies scale is difficult. As goals get bigger, so does the company, and with that growth comes a flood of changing processes and new employees.
“A lot of companies are starting to lose out because they lose track of what they’re really aiming for, and what they’re aiming for is always the execution of outstanding customer experiences,” Bochman said.
Looking forward, Bochman is committed to helping Salsify keep its sights set on that very goal. She believes the company has the potential for long-term growth because of the value it’s already providing to customers.
“I really enjoy the exploration and problem solving we can do here,” Bochman said. “There are so very few opportunities you have to be at a company like Salsify.”
Quick (Q)uestions & (A)nswers
What do you do in your free time?
I’m actually a trail runner, and I’ve run a couple of 50Ks. I really enjoy being out in the woods. I have a goal of doing a 50 miler – probably not this year, but it’s on my list. I also teach compassion meditation. I’m a big believer in mindfulness and meditation.
How do you manage stress?
Honestly, getting out into the woods for six or seven hours is amazing. No technology, just being in nature can be so restorative. I think it’s also important to just be grateful. Gratitude practice is really important to help you keep your eye on the real truth of what’s going on in your life.
How many cups of coffee do you drink in a day?
I’m one of those people who wakes up with natural energy, so I don’t drink coffee regularly.
What’s one of your favorite places in the Boston area?
I love the Institute of Contemporary Art – it’s a beautiful building. I also really love the Blue Hills. We’re really fortunate to have so much great nature nearby, and it’s all walkable.
What’s one of your greatest accomplishments so far?
I think the fact that I have been blessed to find myself doing work that I enjoy. It’s hard, but what a great way to live a life. So making it happen every day has been amazing.
How does this compare to where you saw yourself 10 years ago?
I’ve always had purposeful thoughts. At one point, I thought I wanted to be a CIO and had all these grand illusions when I was younger, but I feel good about where I landed.
What’s your advice for recent college graduates?
Know who you are and what makes you get up in the morning. Do you like chaos or order? Do you like structure or more agency to do your own thing? Think about what makes you happy as a person and then find a job that fits, because it makes every day so much easier. Everybody always talks about following your dreams, but I never dreamed of being in customer success as a kid. I enjoy what I do because of my personality, so I would say be careful what you choose because even if it’s something you love to do, you can hate it if you have to do it every day for eight hours. Figure out what it feels like when you’re dealing with something you don’t like, and then figure out how to not make that part of your life.