Why I Joined Freshworks

What are you doing next? It’s the question we all get during career transitions. For me the question often came with a secondary question, “will you be CEO again!?” My time between roles was only a few weeks, so luckily it was a short time that I had to be elusive, but I’m excited to finally announce that I’ve joined Freshworks as Chief Marketing Officer.

Sadly, the CEO spot is still elusive to many women. Having spent 25 years aspiring to the top position and working hard to rise the ranks and finally serve as CEO to a successful start-up, I felt a bit of indebtedness to what being a female CEO stood for. When I got the question, I felt there was some expectation that I should continue to be that role model and example for the industry. Though I intended to stay open to whatever interesting roles came my way in this crazy hot job market, I decided early on to focus on CEO roles. Which is why my decision is most interesting and a bit surprising to me.

I’ll be honest, I hadn’t heard of Freshworks before my ski buddy, Jose Morales joined them last year after a massively successful stint helping grow Atlassian’s annual revenue from $100M to $1.8B. When I saw that Tyler Sloat joined as CFO, I definitely sat up and took notice. I know these guys, and both of them have their pick of companies to join. So when Jose picked up the phone and called me about the CMO opportunity, I was eager to learn more and sit down with Freshworks’ CEO, Girish Mathrubootham.

Having sold software in the 90s for one of the pioneers of the service management/CRM category Clarify (remember them?), I’ve been in and around CSM, helpdesk, and CRM solutions for a long time. The promise of using technology to deliver great service to customers and employees has always been there, but the bloated nature of enterprise technology has made it hard for companies to realize their goal. Yet in their quest, they spend lots of time, money, and consulting fees trying to get there.

COVID-19 and the drive for digital transformation has only intensified the issue. Now, not only the Fortune 500, but also the other 5 million companies out there need modern technology to delight customers and employees in fast and easy ways. And the latter aren’t fortunate enough to afford hiring a big consulting firm and spending six figures and twelve months getting it up and running.

Hearing Girish’s vision for helping businesses delight their customers and employees through modern service management and CRM solutions, *and* doing so in a way that is fast, easy, and cost-effective was yes, very re-Fresh-ing! And then to hear that the company had grown to $300m, is still growing at over 40%, and is generating cash proves that Girish is not just a visionary but that he can build a great team that executes.

As for the point about never hearing of Freshworks, they simply had so much inbound interest and exceptional product market fit that marketing was never an area they needed to over-invest in. What a dream for a marketer: great company, great product, great CEO, great team! They just need some marketing leadership to help amplify the story.

When it came time for me to finally decide on my next gig, I had three very compelling CEO opportunities at successful companies, with two of them ready to make me an offer.

Ultimately, I kept coming back to Freshworks because of its talented team and culture, suite of differentiated products, immense business trajectory, and huge market opportunity. Plus, I love positioning and storytelling and the CMO role plays to my sweet spot.

I’m sure I’ll come back to the CEO role at some point in my career, but today I’ve followed my heart to Freshworks, which I hope is an equally impactful example to set. Upon reflection, I feel that having a choice is powerful, especially for women. And after all, following one’s heart is not only OK, it’s the way to live your best life.

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CEO of Zinc. Mom of two spunky girls.

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staceyepstein

staceyepstein

CEO of Zinc. Mom of two spunky girls.

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