Sora employee spotlight: Lauren Olds, Director of Customer Success
For the past three months, Lauren Olds, Sora’s first Director of Customer Success, has been busy building processes for her team and creating visibility into the customer success department for the rest of the company.
Luckily, we were able to steal some time from her busy schedule to learn more about her background and highlight it in the first installment of our employee spotlight blog series. Read on to get to know her!
What did you want to do in college? Was it always Customer Success?
In high school, I got accepted into the pre-veterinary program at Clemson, but I started having doubts before school even began. I have a passion for animals, but I didn’t know if I actually wanted to be a vet. I talked to my parents, and they told me, "Look, it's not the easiest program to get into, so at least give it a shot. If you're still having doubts after one semester, we can shift gears."
When I started the program, I distinctly remember there was a class where the professor talked about how veterinary school is harder to get into than medical school – there's not a lot of vet schools and so many people who want to be vets. Clemson was also a big agricultural school, so we were going to farms every week, and I quickly realized that I’m not a big farm girl. These factors kept making me have doubts about my major. And I came to the conclusion that I love animals, but that doesn't mean I need to care for them for a living.
That said, I still didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do. But I did know that I wanted to be in front of people, communicating with them, and solving their problems. So I decided to stick with something broad, and the most broad major I could find was Communication Studies. Then I got my minor in Sociology and Psychology, and my education just made me realize that I can talk to people. Those were my top skills.
When I graduated, I still had no idea what I wanted to do. I was mainly applying to marketing agencies to be an account manager, but I ended up taking a customer success job at a small startup in Washington D.C. I didn’t even know what SaaS was or what customer success meant, but I fell in love with both. And I haven't looked back since.
When you started in Customer Success, what made you want to keep pursuing the career?
My first job was one of the more influential jobs that I’ve had since graduating college. It introduced me to all of the facets of customer success. I was doing a little bit of everything – project management, implementation, account management, and customer support. And I loved that I had the ability to solve people’s problems and make their day a lot better.
At that particular company, all of our clients were members of Congress. Their staffers weren't necessarily the most technically skilled people, so being able to break things down for them and make their jobs easier was really fulfilling to me. And the tech industry in general is also constantly evolving and the solutions that I can provide are always evolving, too. I loved how the space just continuously adapts. It's not going to go away anytime soon.
Before you joined Sora, what was the coolest project you worked on?
Before Sora, I was working at a company where my start date was only a few days after my entire team was brought on. Needless to say, we were super green. I was the first manager of the first customer success team that they ever had, so I was building the team quite literally from the ground up. There wasn’t a single process or system in place. We really were in the trenches together.
Every day, my team would ask me, "Well, what are we doing today?” And I was like, "We have a lot to figure out before I even know what to tell you to do today." So it was really such a unique, gratifying experience because my team and I built an entire department together. It was really cool watching them have a hand in that process. And the bond that we formed through all of that was pretty special. It was the most fun I've ever had so far in my career. It was a lot of work, and I was clocking in way too many hours, but it was definitely the coolest thing that I've done so far.
What drew your eye to Sora? What was unique about us and why did you choose to join the company?
The opportunity to build a team and iterate off of what they're already doing, scaling them up, and making them better while working at a company that I felt I could trust.
Usually during the interview process, it’s hard to really get to know people at the company, so you just have to go off of your gut feeling. But I remember when I spoke to Sora’s cofounders, Laura and Orien, I felt a certain level of trust with them after only knowing them for 30 minutes each.
I asked pretty direct questions, and I remember pressing Laura pretty heavily on some things, but she was so willing to be vulnerable. I realized that Sora’s leadership understands the importance of communicating with their team, being vulnerable with them, and building trust with them. I could just tell that they had the level of emotional intelligence that I wanted from a leadership team.
What are you looking forward to in your role at Sora?
So many things. I could go on and on, but I've been so impressed with the team and their ability to absorb change and be motivated by it. Their desire to grow as individuals is also so impressive. They're very hungry for it. I'm really excited to see the work that we'll be doing as a team and how each individual grows as a professional. I think the team is already fantastic. In a year's time, I'm so excited to see where they are, what their skillset looks like, how they operate, and how they do their job. I think that there is a lot this team can do, and I'm pumped to see them evolve.
On a typical Sunday afternoon, where can we find you?
I would say my perfect Sunday would be sleeping in, doing my coffee routine, spending a little bit of time with my cat Scott, either taking a Pilates or yoga class, and then hitting the beach for a couple hours with some friends.