Get to Know: Riz Karim, VP, Professional Services
To start, tell us a bit about what Everbridge does and what your role is.
Everbridge provides businesses, schools, and state and local governments with a communication platform that helps people stay safe and connected in emergencies. Across our teams, one common thread is customer enablement and customer success: we want to help our customers get the most out of our technology. As the Vice President of Professional Services, I work with teams that support that goal specifically: Sales Ops, Sales Engineering, Implementations, and Education.
My role is around setting our vision as an organization and ensuring we stay focused on that vision. I collaborate with the managers of our teams regularly about where we want to be as a company, and we set endpoints for their teams that align with our goals. Part of my job is to support and enable them to meet those goals, but it’s up to each manager to choose the path that makes the most sense for their team. We work together and make adjustments as we go.
Are there measures of success that are consistent across your teams?
There are several, each of which align with our goals as a company. The first is adoption of our software. After a customer purchases our product, are they using it often and effectively? Are our educational materials helping them? Second is customer satisfaction. Do they feel they’re getting good value out of the system? Would they be champions for us? Our third goal, growth, builds off the first two; customers naturally find new ways to use the system when they already see its value. It’s our job to make sure we’re onboarding new use cases effectively, so our customers keep growing — and we do too.
I think transparency around our main objectives is one of the things that’s contributed to Everbridge’s success. Our communication between management and individual contributors is remarkable for our size, and our leadership team is extremely approachable. I don’t think anyone here is saying, “How does what I’m doing tie into our mission as a company?” People understand what we’re trying to accomplish and see how their work is driving that mission forward.
What drew you to Everbridge?
I was impressed by the management team’s background and drawn to the way they’re always looking two, three, four years ahead. There was no sense of resting on our laurels and being content with what was already accomplished. I also spent some time with our CTO and was excited about his vision for where the industry is going and the role Everbridge can play.
On top of all that was the mission. Our product makes a tangible, day-to-day difference in the lives of millions of people. I can’t underscore how good it feels when you get an email about someone’s life being saved or a lost individual being found because of our platform.
I feel fortunate to work with a team that shares that pride. They’re incredibly passionate about helping our customers, and about seeing their baby — this system they know so well — do what it’s meant to do.
How do you make decisions about improving internal processes?
We’re a very data-driven company — and I’m a very data-driven individual — so a lot of decisions start by gathering data and deciding what to solve for. I won’t go so far as to say data drives every conversation, but we at least want it available to as a gut check. Data helps us eliminate biases and emotions from conversations, and it helps us iteratively improve almost anything we do.
In Sales, for example, we want to know: How quickly were we able to train new hires on tools? How quickly did we introduce them to their accounts? When did they bring on their first client? Looking closely at these granular events helps us understand where we can improve.
We approach changes to our product in the same way. More than a hundred million people are using our platform, and well over a billion messages were sent out using Everbridge last year. At that scale, we can do some really interesting things around analytics and insights.
What challenges do you face in your role?
Every day when I come into work there are 30 or 40 meaningful things I could work on. The challenge is picking the three or four that will move the needle the most. We have a lot going on and a huge amount of opportunity, so where we choose to focus will impact our success for the year.
Everbridge has also grown a lot in the last two years, which brings its own challenges and opportunities. We’ve gone from selling one or two products to six or seven. We used to have folks who could be masters of everything that we do — now we need people to start specializing. As a leader, these are the kinds of problems I enjoy solving.
Why is now an exciting time to join Everbridge?
We’re growing fast, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what we can accomplish. Our customers are finding new ways to use our products, which means we can help potentially thousands of other organizations solve similar problems.
I’m also proud that we haven’t lost sight of what’s important as we’ve grown. As they grow, many companies spending a lot of time navigating internal hurdles, but we haven’t really experienced that. We have the stability and upside potential of a publicly traded company, with the benefits of a smaller culture. I think that’s a testament to the caliber of people we hire and the culture we’ve maintained.
What qualities make someone successful here?
I personally place less weight on experience with a particular tool or product, and more on how someone approaches work. People who are self-starters are very, very successful here. There’s no shortage of projects for someone who wants to jump right in, and no shortage of opportunities to prove yourself quickly. We’re still at a size where you can have a significant impact on the business.