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Women in Enterprise: Camilla Velasquez at Justworks

This series features profiles of some of the top women leaders within our enterprise technology community here in NYC. We hope by highlighting their terrific work, stories, and career trajectories within some of the top venture-backed startups and operating functions will encourage more women to consider careers in enterprise software.

Join us on February 28th, 2018 at our first-ever Navigate 2018: Women in Enterprise Tech Summit here at Work-Bench with Salesforce Ventures in New York City to meet and connect with these impressive women and more.

Camilla Velasquez is the VP of Product and Marketing at Justworks.

What were you doing before your current role in enterprise technology? How did you get to this role?

Before joining Justworks at the end of 2014, I was a Product Director at Etsy, working on Payments and Multi-channel sales for Sellers. I knew Isaac, Justworks’ founder, from working together at Etsy. We work together really well and I trust his values and believe in the mission to help SMBs take care of their teams. When I joined we had just decided to get into health insurance, and I didn’t know anything about working in that domain. The challenge of learning about healthcare, plus truly working at ground zero for employment in payroll and HR, seemed like a huge one and I’m always up for that.

After a year with the company I started managing Marketing as well, which was new to me, but a great challenge. I liked the idea of building a product and a brand that are completely harmonious.

What pain point is your company solving, and what gets you excited to go to work every day?

We’re building out the country’s best employment platform for SMBs. We’re the most compliant all-in-one way for SMBs to get great benefits, payroll, and HR tools. Our business model allows us to offer benefits and services to SMBs that they would otherwise never has access to because of their size, using the power of aggregation. I’m so passionate about this because I believe working at a small company or a startup can be so rewarding, but you often have to forgo great benefits or easy-to-use technology.

I love our customers and I love the Justworks team, so coming in every day is truly a dream. We have a Slack channel that shares NPS data and comments from our customers with the Product & Marketings team and others in the company who are interested. It can be a true rollercoaster, but hearing from customers how much our product is resonating with them is extremely rewarding. And sometimes… not so much. But even just knowing what’s causing customers pain and hearing it directly from them can be helpful. In B2B its not always easy to get to the customers at scale, but we make a lot of efforts to hear from them directly.

What do you wish you had known earlier in your enterprise career?

Building for businesses is challenging because one size definitely does not fit all, especially when it comes to customers’ workflow. We build for so many roles at a company — COO, payroll manager, benefits director, HR manager, or even CEO. They all work differently, so prioritizing our roadmap can be challenge because the way to build a feature isn’t obvious from the start. You’re not sure who exactly you’re building for and how they think. You have to do a ton of digging to zero in on the perfect user for every feature and then expand from there. Our designers are becoming experts at finding these perfect users from our customer base for interviews and user testing from the start, but it took us a few cycles to pinpoint the best way to get started on designing something new.

On the marketing front, demand generation is hard. We have a mix of inbound and outbound sales at Justworks, and creating scalable and predictable inbound demand can be hard, especially when customers aren’t always looking for a new payroll or back office solution. Customers decide on when to switch based on events that occur in their own lifecycles — like hiring their first employee, hiring someone in a new state, or when their exiting provider simply messes up. The trick is to be there when they are looking. Finding affordable ways to do that isn’t always easy. Finding the right talent for this and the risk tolerance level for experimenting with spend has been my challenge but its starting to truly pay off this year.

Give us one piece of tactical advice (small or large), as a page from your enterprise tech playbook — that you would give to another woman considering a career in enterprise tech?

Working on Product development for Enterprise requires a lot of people skills, but that will only get you so far without the right data and scalable communication channels. Everyone in the company wants something from the product and engineering teams to support their goals. There’s a lot to balance, along with needs of our customers and strategic goals of the company. I recommend looking at engineering and product investments as a portfolio and making sure it has the right allocations based on stakeholders and strategic goals. Then, creating as much transparency around that portfolio within the company and your customers will create empathy in the organization so you can say no to things that don’t make sense in the portfolio at a given time. Spend time finding the best ways to communicate your portfolio mix and keep it up to date.

The other piece of advice I would give to women in enterprise tech is to demand and push for accountability around diversity hiring and inclusion within the company. SaaS generally can feel rather insular, but the right leaders should be open to hearing your views and your needs. Make sure you ask founders or interviewers about this before you join the company.

What do you love about enterprise tech?

I love the complexity. I find the problems challenging and layered. For our company, I also see massive opportunity to marry some of the great things people love about consumer technology with enterprise by creating delightful and playful moments that are otherwise unexpected in B2B. We also do this on the brand side: we find ways to market that are unexpected for B2B, like commuter trains, but end up paying off.

What do you wish would change?

It can be hard to make data driven decisions at the early stages of the product because you’re dealing with less customers than you would in consumer technology. And they often have varied personas. It’s also less easy to experiment or A/B test because of customer and sales expectations. You have to rely more on your gut and in depth user testing, which can be time consuming if you’re used to a fast paced development cycle. I’ve started to understand the pace more and more over time, but it definitely took some time for the team to get used to and we adjusted our roadmaps more and more over time to accommodate for that.

Connect with Camilla on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Our inspiration for this series comes from Digital Currency Group’s terrific profiles of Women in Blockchain — thank you!

Join us on February 28th at Work-Bench for our Navigate 2018: Women in Enterprise Tech Summit in NYC and get your ticket here. #navigate18

Know a woman leader in enterprise technology whose story we should feature?We’d love to hear from you.

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Work-Bench

Work-Bench is an enterprise technology VC fund in NYC. We support early go-to-market enterprise startups with community, workspace, and corporate engagement.