One key takeaway from Gainsight CFO Alka Tandan’s career journey is the importance of being open to new opportunities and pivoting when necessary.
Tandan started in investment banking, transitioned to media, and then vectored again to the SaaS industry.
Looking back on the first move of her career, Tandan says that she “came to a decision” and quickly became focused on the best way to execute it. “Investment banking gave me incredible exposure to a range of business models and industries, but after 5 years, I realized that I really wanted to be on a company’s journey, so business school became the tool that I used to transition to industry,” Tandan reports.Read More
To better highlight her industry career-building years, Tandan discusses with us the 4.5 years that she spent with IGN Entertainment, an Internet media company that at the time was operating as a division of News Corp. “I came in as they were separating IGN’s finance organization from News Corp., which required us to build the finance function from the ground up,” recalls Tandan, who adds that in the years that followed, IGN’s finance team became involved in six different M&A transactions.
Other career chapters that Tandan highlights for us include her experience as interim CFO (2021–2022) for Gainsight, the SaaS software developer that pioneered the customer experience realm known as “customer success.” Tandan tells us that her year as interim CFO allowed her to “test out the role” before assuming the position.
There’s little doubt that fortunate timing contributed to what became Tandan’s ultimate door-opener for the CFO office. Having first joined Gainsight in May 2019 as vice president of finance, Tandan had already logged 18 months with Gainsight when Vista Equity Partners acquired the firm for $1.5 billion in November 2020. Tandan would assume her interim CFO role only 3 months later.
Overall, CFO Tandan’s story is a reminder that career paths are rarely linear and that being adaptable and open to new experiences can lead to unexpected opportunities.
Asked how Gainsight’s finance team has worked to better educate the organization when it comes to achieving more profitable growth in the current economic environment, Tandan responds: “Luckily, since we were already with Vista, we were on the right path, so I wouldn’t say that there has been any huge shift for us in terms of educating the organization.” –Jack Sweeney
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CFOTL: Tell us about Gainsight … what does this company do, and what are its offerings today?
Tandan: For those who don’t know about customer success offerings, I’ll start by explaining that our company defines “customer success” as essentially everything post-sales. As you know, there’s a lot of really great popular software, such as Salesforce, to sort of track customers in their pre-sales journey. When you think about it, though, your customers are probably the most important part of your company. Our founders started Gainsight because they realized that there was not really any good software out there for managing customers once you had them.
For our customers, it’s basically a one-stop shop. One database houses all of your customer information. We really help managers and the entire customer success group to keep guard over customers to ensure that they are happy.Read More
For example, we have a health score on the software that in one number basically looks at things like time spent, adoption, and all sorts of other metrics. You can actually look at this to see the “health” of a customer and track their entire journey—from onboarding to maturity—to make sure that they’re hitting all of their milestones at the appropriate time. All of this is very customized to each customer.
At the end of the day, all of this matters because you want to keep your customers not only just happy but also continuing to grow. The goal of our software is really to increase customer lifetime value, as well as to ensure a healthy gross renewal rate, which is one our North Star metrics, along with net revenue retention. All three of these metrics are very important in today’s world, when a lot of companies aren’t able to easily grow their new customer base, just given the contraction in the markets and lower budgets.
The most efficient way to grow your customers or revenue is to do so from your current customers. A lot of our companies are really focused on their current customers right now, and we’ve heard this focus a lot from investors as well. I just did a bunch of investor conferences where I had so many investors come up to me and say, “Hey, will you guys add your best practices for customer success to our portfolio?” We’re hearing this a lot now, not just from customer success functions but also from CEOs and boards.
As far as where we are in the industry goes, we’re actually the category creator. We have the vast majority of users in terms of market share, which is usually around 75% to 80%, depending on the year.
Gainsight | www.gainsight.com | San Francisco, CA