Feb 1, 2019

Read Time 9 min

ChurnZero’s 10 Customer Success Leaders to Watch in 2019


2019 Customer Success Leaders to Watch

At ChurnZero, our mission is to be the best Customer Success platform out there – and Customer Success teams sit at the heart of this goal.

Since the field of Customer Success is still maturing, we feel it’s key to learn from others in the industry. There are Customer Success leaders out there who are always looking at things a little differently, who are ahead of the curve and who are continually learning and pushing innovation. Those are the ones we should all keep an eye on as we look to advance the field.

To help, we’ve curated this watchlist of Customer Success leaders who we believe you’ll gain some inspiration from and see them do great things in 2019.

So, without further ado…


1.) Amanda Berger, Chief Customer Officer, Lucidworks

Customer Success Leader - Amanda BergerAmanda’s commitment to business results drives each aspect of her work as Chief Customer Officer at Lucidworks. Leading a team of innovators and experts in their Customer Success, Professional Services, and Support organization, Amanda’s goal is to ensure that every customer optimizes the business impact of Lucidworks search and analytics deployments.

“My biggest passion lies in helping people find what they want and getting them to their destination in a meaningful way,” said Berger. “I believe Lucidworks has the tools to provide an incredible experience throughout the entire customer journey, and I’m really excited to be able to support a team that builds on that customer-focused outlook.”

Harnessing decades of experience and impact at MicroStrategy, Guidance Software (now Opentext), and RichRelevance, Amanda delivers true partnership as she works with Lucidworks customers to optimize the impact of technology innovation and accelerates business results.

She holds a degree in Philosophy from Occidental College and is based in San Francisco.

You can find and follow Amanda on LinkedIn.


2.) Chris Collins, Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Ellucian

Customer Success Leader - Chris CollinsAs Senior Vice President and Chief Customer Officer, Chris Collins drives key initiatives that accelerate Customer Success across Ellucian’s portfolio and serves as a champion and advocate for customers at every step on their Ellucian journey. In this role, he leads all aspects of Ellucain’s global Customer Success, Professional Services, and Technology Management organization.

“While modern solutions, features, and functions attract customers, it’s the total experience with a company that leads to long-term customer success—and in education, that can equate to the success of our future workforce,” said Collins. “That success imperative in education is what makes me excited to enhance every step of the Ellucian customer experience, and partner with institutions across the globe to maximize the value of their technology investments.”

Prior to Ellucian, Chris served as Senior Vice President of Global Services, Education and Partner Management at Medallia, Inc., a customer experience management platform provider, leading Field Professional Services, Education, Insights, and Partner Management teams. Previous to that, Chris served as General Manager and SVP for Professional Services and Education at CA Technologies – where he established global programs to serve customers in an evolving, high-volume product business, and worked to optimize and accelerate the sales and delivery process. 

Chris’ experience also includes leadership roles at Mercury Interactive, Gemstar-TV Guide, and Allibra Incorporated, where he played a transformation role building Cloud strategy and preparing the company for the leap to SaaS.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from San Jose State University.

You can find and follow Chris on LinkedIn.


3.) Francesca Cruz, Vice President, Customer Success, IZEA

Custom Success Leader - Fran CruzFrancesca leads the team responsible for ensuring the success adoption and marketplace utilization of all IZEA owned and operated SaaS platforms.

“We are thrilled to have Francesca join team IZEA. Her extensive background in customer success, sales and management will be of great benefit to both IZEA and our customers,” said Ted Murphy, Founder and CEO of IZEA. “Francesca has a proven track record of growing client relationships through collaborative development and exemplary customer service. Her skillsets and experience complement our increasing investment in SaaS and we are optimistic in her ability to help us grow this part of our business.”

Prior, Fran served as the Vice President of Customer Success and Partnership for TapInfluence. Under her direction, marketplace utilization grew 39% in one year. She originally joined TapInfleunce as Vice President of Sales and oversaw annual SaaS revenue growth of 204%.

Before joining TapInfluence, Fran held a variety of sales management positions at Confio Software, which was acquired by SolarWinds during her tenure. She initially led and grew Confio’s Sales Development team and eventually became Director of Sales for mulptiple SolarWinds product lines.

Cruz is a graduate of Duke University and a Fulbright Scholar.

You can follow Fran on Twitter @FrancescaPCruz and find her on LinkedIn.


4.) Jesse Decker, Chief Customer Success Officer, Cloudvirga

Customer Success Leader- Jesse DeckerAs Chief Customer Success Officer, Jesse Decker leads Cloudvirga’s Customer Success division, working collaboratively with its Product Development, Engineering and Marketing teams to help customers realize the most value from the usage of their products.

“The cry for digital technology that meaningfully improves the customer experience and reduces the cost to produce a mortgage has never been louder,” Decker said. “I’m thrilled to bring my experience helping major lending institutions implement transformative technology that delights customers to Cloudvirga, and I look forward to helping lenders take control over their margins in a tight market.”

Jesse joined Cloudvirga from a prior position at Roostify where she was Vice President of Services. A role in which she oversaw implementation at several banks and mortgage lenders. Previously to Roostify, Jesse delivered advisory services to clients in sectors including financial services and Telcom fields for consulting firms such as Booz Allen Hamilton.

Jesse holds an MPA from Princeton, and a B.S. from Northeastern University.

You can find and follow Jesse on LinkedIn.


5.) Gregg Erickson, Vice President, Customer Success, BitTitan

Customer Success Leader - Gregg EricksonGregg is the VP of Customer Success at BitTitan, leading initiatives for the company’s Customer Success and Support teams. Gregg is a battle-tested Customer Success professional with over 15 years of experience in roles at K2 Sports, Tableau, AnswerDash, and Rightside. Most recently Gregg served as the Director of Customer Success and Experience at Zipwhip.

“Gregg has a profound passion for customer advocacy, and his commitment to their success will be instrumental as organizations worldwide continue to expand their businesses into the cloud,” said Geeman Yip, CEO at BitTitan. “His experience working with both established, Fortune 100 companies as well as disruptive, growing startups will be a welcome addition to BitTitan and our team.”

Gregg attended the Business Administration and Management program at Highline College.

You can follow Gregg on Twitter at @I_fight4_users and find him on LinkedIn.


6.) Chad Estes, Vice President, Customer Success, SaaSOptics

Customer Success Leader - Chad EstesChad is the VP of Customer Success at SaaSOptics and is a veteran of the SaaS industry with over 20 years of experience in delivering successful outcomes and forming strong B2B customer and partner relationships. He has extensive experience building and leading Customer Success and Product Management teams for growing SaaS companies across industries, including marketing, advertising, collaboration and supply chain management.

“We are very proud of the execution of our SaaSOptics team,” said Tim McCormick, SaaSOptics CEO. “2018 was another excellent year in every aspect of our business, and with the addition of Chad, we have the seasoned leadership and proven track record of success to continue building out our sales and customer success teams to meet the strong customer demand for our platform.”

More notably, Chad built the Customer Success team from scratch for Vitrue, a social media marketing product suite, which was acquired by Oracle in 2012 for over $300M.

Chad is based in Atlanta and has called it home for almost 20 years. You can follow Chad on Twitter @chadestes and find him on LinkedIn.


7.) Dave Ginsburg, Chief Customer Officer, UserTesting

Customer Success Leader - Dave GinsburgDave is a tech industry veteran with more than 20 years of experience managing post-sales strategies and teams at B2C and B2B companies and is dedicated to helping customers achieve measurable results. At UserTesting he leads all Customer Success initiatives including Training, Services and Support and is responsible for building teams and strategies that help customers define and achieve success.

“We succeed as an organization when our customers succeed – my role is focused on developing a team that makes that happen every day, with every customer,” said Dave Ginsburg, Chief Customer Officer at UserTesting. “It’s an exciting time to be here at UserTesting. I look forward to continuing to build out a high-performing customer service team, launching new offerings and continuing to work alongside an incredibly talented leadership team.”

Dave has spent his career building high-performing roles at MixPanel and Box, as well as other Customer Success and Professional Services leadership roles at companies including Accenture, Scient, Thomason Reuters and eBay Enterprise.

You can find and follow Dave on LinkedIn.


8.) Rachel McBrearty, Chief Customer Officer, LeanData

In her role as LeanData’s Chief Customer Officer, Rachel is responsible for defining and improving client outcomes and ensuring customer-centricity remains at the core of LeanData’s growth and company values.

“It is a privilege to be joining LeanData as the Chief Customer Officer at a pivotal moment in the company’s history,” said McBrearty in a statement. “Over the past year, LeanData has scaled to new heights and achieved significant milestones … As the new Chief Customer Officer, I am looking forward to optimizing the LeanData customer journey, while infusing the voice of the customer to further scale the company’s performance.”

Rachel joins LeanData after spending over a decade at Cisco, where she held senior executive-level customer experience and insights positions spanning across business units, as well as a consulting services practice focused on helping Cisco’s top customers with their customer experiences.

You can follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelMcB and find her on LinkedIn.


9.) Jill Sawatzky, Vice President, Customer Success, PROS

Jill is the VP of Customer Success at PROS and is responsible for ensuring a positive post-sale customer experience for PROS’ customers as well as driving the company’s recurring revenue renewal process and results.

A globally recognized Customer Success expert and thought leader Sawatzky comes to PROS with more than 20 years of customer-focused information technology experience. Prior to PROS, Jill serves as the Director of the Customer Success team at Citrix Systems, a multinational software company that provides desktop virtualization and cloud-computing technologies. She also led a global team of Customer Success Managers critical to Citrix’s transformation to Cloud. In this role, she maximized software adoption and subscription revenue retention for Citrix’s Enterprise customers.

Sawatsky previously spent 18 years at IBM, where she served as the Program Director of the IBM Customer Success team for IBM Commerce. She has also held numerous Customer Success Management and Executive Project Management roles. She began her career with Accenture.

Jill holds a M.S. from the George Washington University in Management Information Systems as well as a B.S. in Commerce from the University of Virginia.

You can find and follow Jill on LinkedIn.


10.) Chris Sotudeh, VP, Global Services and Customer Success, Vbrick

Customer Success Leader - Chris SotudehChris has over 20 years of client service leadership experience ranging from Management Consulting to Professional Services and Customer Success in software companies. At Vbrick, Chris is responsible for all aspects of enablement and implementation services, training, support and customer advocacy across Vbrick’s global customer footprint.

Chris’ career includes 10 years at Deloitte where he served as a leader in strategic planning and delivery of enterprise digital transformation initiatives across commercial and public sector markets. After Deloitte, Chris held various roles managing and growing professional services and solution delivery organizations by building a collaborative set of capabilities and offerings to drive value and increase adoption of technology solution. His experience in the software industry includes strategic client executive and services leadership roles at MicroStrategy, as well as at Clarabridge where he was the VP of professional services and consulting.

Chris holds a BS from University of Maryland and a MS from Johns Hopkins University. He is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

You can follow Chris on twitter at @KCSotudeh and find him on LinkedIn.


 Who else would you add to this list?

Interested in who we kept our eye on in 2018? Check out last year’s Customer Success watchlist here


Customer Success Around the Web



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