As Women’s History Month comes to a close, it is important to recognize that women in technology are still making history every day in a traditionally male-dominated field. Jamie Bertasi, for example, has built three companies from the ground and led two through successful acquisitions by Microsoft and Excite@Home. As her current company Totango leans into its hyper-growth trajectory, this President and Chief Operating Officer has one secret to her success: Do great work...and then do better!
We sat down with Bertasi to talk about being a woman in tech and how Totango has created a workforce that boasts 60% of women in leadership in the customer success (CS) field.
Deanna Barnert: Totango is a CS platform that unleashes the power of teams to accelerate the design and delivery of inspired customer journeys, and it’s the third business you’ve played an essential part in growing. What is the secret to your success?
Jamie Bertasi: Even as a kid, I was constantly building things. I'm a builder by nature. I love bringing on teams and solving problems. And one thing I've learned along the way is to never stop innovating. Every time you think you've finally figured it out, you really haven't. Use your data to keep learning so that you can move forward and make better decisions.
Another lesson has been that it's all about your team. You must recruit an amazing group of people and then grow, motivate, and retain those people to build savvy, experienced teams. I'm proud we’ve been able to do that at Totango. We have a very low employee attrition rate – even during this era they’re calling The Great Resignation.
Barnert: Totango has many women in top positions at a time when the pandemic has set back the gender gap. With women in tech feeling particularly squeezed, 57 percent expect to leave their employer for a new role within two years, citing lack of work-life balance as the biggest reason. How has Totango counteracted this trend?
Bertasi: At Totango, we’re building long-term relationships with our employees and with their families. We even invite families to events. We offer great benefits and flexible hours, and are supportive of whatever folks need to do to make it work for their families.
I am a single mom of three and my oldest daughter, who’s now 21, had a brain hemorrhage in preschool. I walked out of work that day and spent six months with her at the hospital. I’ve faced some terrible experiences, personally, and yet I continued with my career. One of the things that kept me going was my company and my support system there.
Beyond family, we’re a global company. The team that built Totango’s new Customer Experience Canvas is based in Ukraine. They are incredibly resilient, and we will continue to be supportive in whatever way they need.
Barnert: Can you share some experiences of bias you’ve faced as a woman in tech, and how you’ve handled them?
Bertasi: I don't think of myself as a woman when I go to work: I think of myself as a businessperson. But I've encountered many – especially because “Jamie” doesn't necessarily indicate gender! Early in my career, I was always the only woman in the room and people were surprised when I walked in, because they were expecting a man. Then women started getting promoted in Silicon Valley and I really enjoyed the environment. Outside of Silicon Valley, however, that same diversity of thought and opportunity did not exist. And I didn’t want to work for those companies.
So, from my point of view, it's critical to build a diverse group from the start. If you have a diverse group of people, then you will find that a diverse team will grow organically.
Barnert: Totango has grown rapidly under your leadership over the last four years. How do you feel about where the company is today?
Bertasi: We’re still in the first generation of people buying CS solutions, so to see the company grow to over 5,000 customers, globally, has been fantastic! And the sky's the limit. Our CEO Guy Nirpaz is a true visionary in product and engineering, so I see Totango dominating this space and becoming the shared customer OS for businesses around the world.
Barnert: Many companies built on traditional business models see the benefit of CS, but fear making the transition. How would you respond to this?
Bertasi: The beauty of Totango is that the technology can be applied to companies of all sizes. If you’re just starting, get all that rich data onto the platform now, so it’s there for you as you grow. For more complex companies that are worried about taking that first step into CS, it doesn't need to be a big step and it doesn't matter where you start.
If your company is ready to unleash CS and start putting the customer first, you can sign-up here for free and start experimenting with Canvas today!
Deanna Barnert is a seasoned journalist and communications professional with thousands of news stories, profiles, business features, and critical pieces published internationally in the full range of media platforms. Her work has been featured on major portals like MSN.com, in industry outlets like "Emmy" magazine and on news platforms like China’s Tencent Media and BBC.