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April 22nd, 2020

The Humans Behind the Bots: Geoff Burne

  • portrait of Rasa


At Rasa, our team is building the standard infrastructure for conversational AI. Behind the scenes, the people of Rasa come together from diverse backgrounds to solve today's most interesting challenges in NLP and dialogue management. We're pulling back the curtain to highlight a few of the humans behind the bots.

Today we're talking with Geoff Burne, Enterprise Account Executive at Rasa. We'll learn Geoff's story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies he's passionate about.

Hi, Geoff. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?

My background is software sales and I have been fortunate enough to work for some great companies over the years. During that time I've learnt to focus on 3 things when evaluating a prospective employer: culture, product, and market opportunity.

At Sun I saw the profound impact the web had on the way enterprises engaged with their customers. The web was the catalyst for a massive wave of innovation that seismically shifted traditional ways of doing business. Global brands that failed to adapt went out of business or were acquired. New global brands were created, and existing ones which evolved saw massive growth in market cap. and revenues.

At Elastic I was part of the team who grew from c. 200 people to over 1,600 and successfully IPO'ed. Whilst there I saw enterprises adopting open source software and the innovation this enabled. Open source software is a game changer for enterprises as it allows them to prove out the value of your offering without having to make a huge upfront investment.

The decision to join Rasa was easy.

The people at Rasa are all smart, humble and friendly - but they're also super driven and ambitious as well. That results in a great culture, one where you can thrive, get stuff done quickly and be consistently successful.

The product Rasa is building is uniquely placed to help enterprises control their conversational AI strategy. The fact that it's open source makes it easy for them to adopt, prove out the value and do really cool things we often haven't thought of.

The market opportunity for Rasa is massive. We're seeing similar patterns play out with conversational AI as we saw with the web. Those sorts of market shifting opportunities come along rarely in a career.

Take us through a typical day as an Enterprise Account Executive. What types of projects do you work on?

There's no typical day as an Enterprise Account Executive. We're at the coalface when it comes to helping our customers understand how conversational AI can help improve their business.

As part of our sales team you play a key role in building brand awareness and product adoption. Sales is ultimately how great products gain market acceptance and adoption, particularly in a competitive marketplace.

To do that we need to listen to our customers, understand their priorities and challenges, and then work out which Rasa resources are best to help them navigate their journey most efficiently-to get them from where they are today to where they want to get to.

The common theme across all of my days is working with really interesting people who challenge you to think creatively about solving complex problems.

Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?

I'd sum it up in three points:

  1. Helping our customers to be successful with our software. You know that a customer is properly happy with what they've accomplished with Rasa when they're willing to talk publicly about the benefits they've seen. Having strong reference case studies is a cornerstone of successful expansion.

  2. Being part of shaping Rasa's growth and success. Rasa's a place where you're encouraged to contribute and your experience is valued. It's super rewarding to see the direct results of your ideas delivering new happy customers and growing the business.

  3. Helping my colleagues grow their careers. Rasa is seriously committed to seeing people advance and fulfil their potential. Being part of shaping the future leaders of the IT industry is kind of cool.

What's an important problem you're solving at Rasa?

Helping our customers ensure they control their conversational AI destiny.

Companies are increasingly using AI Assistants to cut costs and deliver new services through a rapidly evolving array of digital channels. As they do so, they're faced with a choice of either entrusting this to a cloud based service provider like IBM, Google or Amazon, or building in-house capability based on a technology like Rasa.

I passionately believe that if you're serious about seeing Conversational AI as a competitive advantage then you need to be building an in-house capability from which you retain control of your data, maintain ownership of the IP you create, and control time-to-market of new capabilities. The results of partnering with Rasa speak for themselves. You need only look at the case studies on our website to see the benefits for companies including Orange, N26 and Lemonade.

How would you describe Rasa in three words?

Diverse. Distributed. Respectful. But you don't just take my word for it. Check out our About and Mission pages.

How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?

Success in sales is all about having the right team. At Rasa, collaboration is a part of our DNA and a daily means of getting stuff done. From working with the Community and Marketing teams to increase brand awareness all the way through to Customer Success Management and and Engineering; all teams make a real difference in ensuring that our customers are successful and happy with their subscriptions.

Being distributed by design often means that the team is made up of members in different timezones. Rasa's put a lot of thought into ensuring that we all have access to tools that we need to communicate effectively as a team. The net result is we're able to leverage our global distribution to our advantage and get stuff done much faster as a result.

What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?

At Rasa diversity feels like it's part our foundational Source Code and underpins all of what we do. Whether that's location, age, or gender; the result is that Rasa has access to a much wider talent pool from which to hire the best people. There's flexibility about where you live and how you operate, and that drives a different kind of culture. One which is much more respectful of people and their values. Even though people are often working apart they build strong relationships and create points of connection which enable them to collaborate and make great things happen.

How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?

My experience isn't typical as I've been working in Software Sales for over 20 years and am only 6 months into the role. That said Rasa's been super supportive in ensuring I have all of the resources and training I need to be successful.

What's the most interesting thing you've learned lately?

The hole in the ozone layer should be completely healed within 50 years according to recent reports from the United Nations. It's a good example of the incredible things we can accomplish by working together towards a common goal.

What's the best career advice you've received?

"Opportunities don't just happen, you create them"

Thanks Geoff! You can find Geoff on LinkedIn.

Want to team up with Rasa? We're hiring! Find open positions for Enterprise Account Executives and other roles on our Jobs Board.