As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite,” we had the pleasure of interviewing Tav Tepfer, Chief Customer Officer at Jabmo.
Tav leads Jabmo’s worldwide Sales, Customer Success and Managed Services Operations. She is a seasoned international SaaS executive with over 15 years experience in enterprise software including Docurated, Zilliant, IBM and Oracle. Tav is a graduate of Texas Woman’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
As a kid, I always wanted to be a doctor. As I got older, I realized I was really good at math so decided to get my degree in mathematics instead. My first job was as an analyst of a product line for a distribution company. I did a detailed analysis for Office Depot and our sales VP insisted that I go present it to the customer. It went very well, and on the flight home, he said, “You’re in sales,” and so it began. Now, I’m leading customer success at Jabmo, where we analyze data for sales so that they can make sense of several data points quickly and see real results for our customers. Jabmo is truly moving marketing forward, as the only global omnichannel Account-Based Marketing provider. My passion for math, analytics, and working with great people has led me here, and I’m so glad it did.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I started in sales and moved over to Customer Success to manage our client-facing team. Focusing on execution with the marketing departments for our clients was eye-opening because sales and marketing teams are not aligned at all. I remember a client looking at our results and saying, “I don’t even know who our sales person is on the account.” It took us working together for a few weeks to find the best sales team (they had 15 different sales people per account) to work with her. With the actionable results from our dashboard, now she holds weekly meetings with regional sales teams. It’s so exciting to watch her thrive!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I’m from Texas, where we use a lot of slang, and when I started managing a global team, it definitely didn’t translate well. I was trying to get closer to them by using casual language but it completely backfired. I remember saying, “Well, I think he got a little too big for his britches” and everyone’s eyes got really wide with blank stares. The lesson is to make sure your language is relevant to their culture or it will make it harder to communicate.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I’ve had several great mentors along the way. I’ve been lucky to surround myself with smart people and even moved to multiple jobs with a core group. One of those was Duncan Angove at Oracle. From him, I learned how to build a team and conquer the next thing together. He empowered me to take risks then directed me to solve the problem and take action without fear. I like working with teams that empower each other. I came to Jabmo with a team I’d worked with from two previous companies to start the U.S. region. Jabmo is headquartered in Paris, France and, at the time, mainly had a presence in EMEA. We are now 60% US, 30% EMEA and 10% APAC and are growing rapidly. Plus we all like each other so we’re having a blast!
In my work, I often talk about how to release and relieve stress. As a busy leader, what do you do to prepare your mind and body before a stressful or high stakes meeting, talk, or decision? Can you share a story or some examples?
I’m very logical so I reason through stressful situations. I always focus on the truth and the goal at hand. If it’s a difficult conversation, I think through their side of it too before I prepare my discussion points. I think about what I want as the outcome and what I’m willing to accept at a minimum. Then, I take two long, deep breaths and I go get it!
As you know, the United States is currently facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
If you’re a global company like Jabmo, serving customers all around the world from different cultures, it’s important your team reflects that as well. When you bring in people from different backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, it’s a catalyst for creativity and inclusivity. We want our product to serve everyone, and that’s why our team should, too.
As a business leader, can you please share a few steps we must take to truly create an inclusive, representative, and equitable society? Kindly share a story or example for each.
I am a believer that people bring different skills to the group and that you should find a way to leverage them. We are a software company so we have to evolve quickly. When we have a new topic, we discuss who is best to jump in to learn and teach the rest of the team. When we do that with each person on the team, we as a company can grow rapidly. We know everyone has strength we can leverage and we are all willing to listen and learn no matter what your title is.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
Not only are you working hard to create results for your company, but you also need to make sure your team is motivated and has the tools to make the magic happen.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
People think you just sit back and make decisions. That’s so far from the truth. Even if you’re good at being strategic and delegating, you have to be involved to stay connected to the business. On any given day I’m diving into analytics to show insights, discussing minor technical issues, resolving communication barriers for international teams, making a decision about which dashboard view we use for a client review, mapping a buyer’s journey, writing an email for a cadence, covering a call for someone who’s sick or recording an educational video for our industry. It’s all about balancing the high-level vision with listening so you can jump in when needed.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
I think women are willing to take on too much. Women are better at multitasking and paying attention to details but it doesn’t mean we should agree to take on another project. Men are typically better at saying no without any repercussions for it. It can be a vicious cycle if you don’t recognize it and stand up for what’s best.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
A good portion of my role is to encourage the team to get the best out of them. I’ve always done that but I thought once I was an executive, it would be all about decision-making. It turns out it’s all about inspiring people!
Do you think everyone is cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
If you are happier and more confident in your individual contribution, then don’t manage people. It’s not easy to get other people to stay focused and deliver. You have to know when to push them and perhaps let them fail as opposed to just doing their job for them. You doing their job doesn’t scale — for the business or for their career.
What advice would you give to other women leaders to help their team to thrive?
I strive to empower women daily. I help the women on my team to understand they have unique skills to help them succeed in business — like attention to detail, perseverance and strong work ethics. If they feel their leader supports them and helps cultivate their strengths, they’re more likely to succeed in their careers, too.
How have you used your success to make the world a better place?
For the last decade, I’ve been an active volunteer for Urban Roots in Austin, TX. It’s a really cool organization that uses food and farming to encourage leadership skills in today’s youth. I’m lucky to work with a company like Jabmo that affords me the free time to help make the world a better place and support our future generations.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Surround yourself with personalities who complement each other. We often look for skillsets for a particular role and try to make carbon copies of the same person. I have found that finding diversity and strengths in different areas makes for a stronger team.
- Everything changes, all the time. Learn how to love change — because it’s unavoidable.
- Pay attention because a career actually chooses you. If you listen and surround yourself with smart, kind people, they will help you thrive. Don’t look for the perfect job, look for people who push you to be your best.
- If you’re too comfortable, you’re not growing so take another risk. It’s worth it no matter the outcome.
- Don’t try to be perfect. If you do, you’re taking too long to get started.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
A kindness movement. We’re all stressed. We are all working hard. Being kind to each other is how we stay connected and find happiness.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The journey is the destination so keep going! Anytime I’ve accomplished something big, I think now what? Now I’ve learned to enjoy all the moments that get you to success. The moments are what matter most!
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Jeff Bezos. I had the opportunity to meet him in 1998 during the dotcom boom. He was telling us our company should use drones for delivery. I didn’t see the drone vision but he talked about how he invested his parent’s life savings to start Amazon. I’d love to discuss his journey to where he is now and to hear about the obstacles he overcame. He went from drones to rockets. Fascinating.