Podcast #37A — Tish Looper, VP of Customer Success at TigerGraph
Written by Sneha Saxena
Sneha Saxena, Data Scientist at Grubhub and Data Science Lead at Women Who Code, interviews Tish Looper, VP of Customer Success at TigerGraph. They discuss ways to ensure diversity in hiring, her work with customers and the importance of relationship building, her thoughts on mentorship, and how she found success in leadership.
What motivated you to get into tech?
I did not start out my career in tech. I had an opportunity to become certified in network administration and database administration. I learned new skills and saw what is possible with technology. That fueled my passion and I started to see unlimited potential for me to advance in my career. I had a lot of great opportunities to work at software companies within various roles around data. Now I have moved into a leadership role.
What would you say interested you in customer success as your career path?
I’ve always been in customer success, no matter what role I’ve had. These roles have allowed me to build relationships with customers and understand their goals and objectives. I’ve focused on data management technologies. Technology helps drive clarity to solve business and technical challenges. I enjoyed working closely with customers to solve their problems, making sure that they were having a good experience and getting the results that they needed. When I was asked to build out a customer success team, I found the perfect job that matched my skills and my passion. It was the career path that I didn’t know that I wanted or that I even expected to have.
Tell us about your role and the work that you are doing.
I’m focused on customers and making sure that we’re always nurturing a positive experience. At TigerGraph, I’ve had the opportunity to build a diverse team, the customer success group, from the ground up. We have aligned the pre-sales engineering, learning, and development, solution consultants, solution consultants, as well as our customer success managers, under my purview. This allows me to look at our people, our processes, and our customers’ goals to focus on delivering a consistent, frictionless experience for our customers.
What is your advice for growing in your work?
Have self-awareness and work on sharpening your skills. Be open to new opportunities when they’re presented to you.
For a diverse team, what are the things that you look for? What is your perspective when you go into these hiring decisions?
Diversity is something that I’m extremely passionate about. Diversity is a part of the company’s culture, the DNA. You have to make sure that you have a diverse interview panel. I look for diverse individuals that complement one another. How are we aligning with our team’s vision, mission, and goals? If I have successful employees, I will then have great customer success.
Share your thoughts on how to find a good mentor and how to be a great mentor.
Mentoring can be very challenging. I did not have a work mentor early in my career. My biggest mentor, in the beginning, was my husband. He’s been so encouraging to me. He’s really guided me and helped me to be able to look at different perspectives. Currently, I’m blessed that TigerGraph has helped me with an executive coach and a mentor. It has been a rewarding experience. It’s made me rethink my goals and expectations. I’m very passionate about mentoring. I think we need to make mentor programs more accessible for women. I don’t think that enough women are stepping up and asking for mentorships.
How did you find success in a leadership role? What advice do you have for people who want to move upward in their careers?
Invest in relationships. As you take on responsibilities, make sure to get clarity and agreements. Make sure that you are setting expectations. I also feel part of my success is that I enjoy responsibility. When we put together those responsibilities, relationships, clarity, and agreement, it provides us a direction to be able to deliver and execute.
What do you think is a good way to stay relevant and continue to excel?
Being hands-on as an individual contributor always made me feel relevant. In a leadership role, it’s remaining true to yourself. It’s also finding time to stay connected to industry, researching the industry, looking at the trends, reading business books, and keeping connected with these communities. It’s important to stay in touch with individuals throughout other departments, being able to have conversations at all different levels and hear what they’re doing. Their individual successes, their stories, help connect me to stay relevant and motivates me to excel.
What are you passionate about outside of work?
My biggest passion is my family. I enjoy being a wife and a mother of two boys. Some of my favorite things that we do as a family is hiking, biking, and fishing. We’re a very big baseball family. As we’re doing all these activities, I love to bring my camera. I’m really hoping that I get to have a little more time to focus on my photography and really drive more of that passion in the future.
Do you have a pro tip for our community?
Remember that nothing is forever, stay open, and remember to take time to breathe. Also, the career path that you might be on may be different than where you end up. Stay open to new opportunities.