September 11th, 2020
The Humans Behind the Bots: Samantha Gardner
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 Sam, Customer Success Management Lead at Rasa. We'll learn Sam's story and explore the day-to-day projects and technologies they're passionate about.
1. Hi, Sam. Tell us about yourself! What was your path to joining Rasa?
I'd been working in customer success for a while at a SaaS company, and in tech for years before that, but I was looking for a company that didn't have an established customer success program yet so I could really have a hand in shaping it. I remember finding Rasa while googling on my phone at a friends house on a Saturday night almost exactly a year ago. I emailed it to myself with a note that I should look into this company more in the morning. Two weeks later, I'd had 5 great interviews with Rasa employees (who are now my favorite people to work with) and an offer to join the team. I couldn't say no!
About myself--I was born and raised in New York City, and now live in Austin, TX with my husband and my 2.5 year old Winston, who proudly sports his Rasa shirt on occasion.
Take us through a typical day as a Customer Success Manager. What types of projects do you work on?
As you can probably guess, a typical day is spent talking to our amazing customers. Our interaction with them depends a lot on where they are in their Rasa journey. If they're onboarding, we'll be doing longer training sessions with them and getting to know their use case and goals intimately. If they're in production and in a steady state, we'll have shorter check-ins to answer questions and hear about all the cool progress they're making.
Another major section of my day is spent collaborating with customer success engineers and account executives to make sure our customers' experience with Rasa is straightforward, successful, and delightful. On a macro level, that involves designing programs, concepts, and documentation to make the customer experience repeatable and scalable and right for our customers. But on a micro level that might mean making tweaks for a customer's individual needs or particular situation. That requires a lot of collaboration between all of the great teams at Rasa to get right.
Which areas of your work are you most passionate about?
I love building relationships with customers. Becoming a trusted advisor and getting to a place where customers involve Rasa in their biggest decisions is a huge goal, and it can't happen without a human relationship as the foundation. Luckily, our customers are amazing, bright people and I'm so lucky I get to work with them all day.
What's an important problem you're solving at Rasa?
As you might guess, people sometimes ask why you would become a Rasa customer when most of our product is completely free and open source. Part of the Customer Success Program is creating value in the Rasa customer experience. There are certainly benefits like increased efficiency and security that come with Rasa Enterprise, but there are also less obvious benefits, like the journey we've created to support customers throughout their build process, the experts they have access to on our customer success engineering team, and our investment in customers' goals. Building these long-term partnerships is one of the most exciting challenges of my role.
How would you describe Rasa in three words?
Honest. Growing. Exceptional.
How do you collaborate with other teams at Rasa?
There are two answers to this question!
I've worked remotely my entire time at Rasa, even before remote work became a global standard to stay healthy. Collaboration happens using a host of amazing tools: Slack, Zoom, Google docs, Notion, and CRM and ticketing systems. I couldn't live without Slack--it helps me feel connected to my colleagues across time zones, since I can read and pipe in to conversations that may have happened when I was sleeping.
Collaboration also describes how the Rasa team works together, as a concept. We respect each other's ideas, we push each other to consider new solutions, and we cooperate. There is nothing at Rasa I could do alone--I am challenged and bolstered by every one of my colleagues.
What does a culture of diversity mean for you at Rasa?
Diverse employees bring a breadth of knowledge, experience and ideas that enrich our company in ways I couldn't begin to describe. Striving to make sure our team comes from different backgrounds and has representation across the board is a benefit for all involved.
It's also meaningful to me that in light of recent episodes of police brutality towards Black citizens in the United States, Rasa spent a lot of time discussing how we can be anti-racist and challenging one another to unlearn racism in ourselves. We wrote a letter to the community to make our feelings clear and share resources, and it's certainly still relevant to share. The last paragraph in the letter we wrote really stuck with me:
What's happening right now is bigger and more important than conversational AI. We encourage every community member to take action as best as they can and stand up for the Black community everywhere, not only in the US but wherever you live. Let's all make sure we watch out for each other. We're here to support you - give us a shout if you need us ❤️
How has working at Rasa helped your professional development?
Rasa has given me the opportunity to build a customer success program from scratch, which has always been a dream of mine. I am so lucky to work closely with our Heads of Business Development and Customer Success Engineering to make the experience excellent for our customers. A surprise benefit was that I'm getting to learn a ton about conversational AI. In fact, I even built my own conversational assistant, Sam 2.0, into which I've poured all the knowledge I hold in my head about my household and children so that when I'm otherwise occupied at work, Sam 2.0 can virtually assist my family via Slack.
What's the most interesting thing you've learned lately?
A day on Venus is longer than a year on Venus.
What's the best career advice you've received?
Your career can go in so many interesting directions over the course of your life, directions you may not have even known existed when you got started. Always be open to new ideas and new challenges.
Thanks Sam! You can find Sam on Twitter and Linked In.
Want to team up with Rasa? We're hiring! Find open positions for the Sales team and other roles on our Jobs Board.