How to Build a RevOps Team from Scratch (with Eventbrite's Sylvia Kainz)

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to Build a RevOps Team from Scratch (with Eventbrite's Sylvia Kainz). The summary for this episode is: On this episode of Operations, Sean meets with Sylvia Kainz, VP of Global Revenue Operations at Eventbrite. Sylvia joined Eventbrite when the company was 12 years into its existence and on the brink of going public– and was tasked with creating a RevOps team from scratch. No small feat. Sylvia shares what that experience was like and what she learned from it, as well as her definition for RevOps, how to give ops pros a home, and her recipe for the best way to organize and structure your RevOps team.

Sylvia Kainz: The change management piece, which stakeholders is, I think really important. However, I put so much more emphasis on making my own team super successful and my own team and every team member on my team, which is for me, more rewarding. But also I think for RevOps as a function, this is how you build your reputation and your brand, particularly when it's a new function.

Speaker 2: Hey, everyone. Welcome back for another episode of Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. The voice you heard at the top of the show belongs to our guest today, Sylvia Kainz. Sylvia, in addition to being the VP Global Revenue Operations at Eventbrite, and an ops executive for over a decade, is really passionate about a specific topic, revenue operations. And I don't mean she likes it in a buzzwordy sort of way, I mean, she has spent her career shaping her opinions and go- to market strategies and leadership philosophies around it, honestly, before the concept and the name of revenue operations even existed. This is one of those interviews where I took notes the entire time. And it honestly made me rethink my own team structure here at Drift. You're going to get to learn about Sylvia's simple definition of what RevOps means to her, her passion for giving ops people a home, and her recipe for the perfect way to create and organize your RevOps team. For bonus points, she also helps me figure out towards the end a way to get more head count and resources from my own team, so that's helpful. And who better to teach us about this stuff, because Sylvia joined Eventbrite 12 years into its existence. And she had to create a RevOps team out of thin air at a mature company on the brink of going public.

Sylvia Kainz: So when I joined Eventbrite, I was hired with the purpose of actually building a revenue operation function. And nobody really knew what that is because it didn't exist at Eventbrite. However, the person who hired me, the CRO at that time was Matt Rosenberg. And so he said, look, I see all these discrepancies across my leader of marketing, sales and customer experience, and I need to align them. And I need to make sure that the systems and the processes are aligned, can you help with that? Oh, that's really your charter. And so that sounds like it got very tactical. And so, one of the things I did first when I got there, actually I said like, okay, what is really the mission of RevOps? And this is not just for Eventbrite, this is for any organization, if they want to build a RevOps function. And so my definition of it is, very simply, to enable go- to market teams to scale efficiently and drive top line growth. And go- to market teams, obviously our marketing, sales and customer experience. And so when I came, that was my first, what's the vision or what's the mission really of this team. And then I started building the team. So there were resources, team members in the organization. These were, I would say teams of maybe between two and threes, sitting in each one of these teams. And so I brought them together and I spend a lot of time actually talking with them, listening to them and really understanding of what their role is, what they had done in the past and what they wanted to do in the future. And as part of that, was obviously to tell them, what is revenue operations? Because they didn't know either. They knew what sales ops is, they know what marketing ops is, but they didn't really understand why we bring them all together, and then what was the charter and the focus of this team.

Speaker 2: And prior to you getting there, were they distributed in their own different parts of the organization?

Sylvia Kainz: Yeah. Yes, and that's very, very typical. What I've seen in, let me call them startups, and Eventbrite is really big, it's not a startup anymore. But it's very typical that a VP of marketing or CRM hires their ops person because they own Marketo or HubSpot. And they say, well, we need somebody who understands the system and can administer it. And so they hire a person who can do that, and the same in sales, and then the same in customer success. And what the problem is when you do that is, after a while, these resources are not aligned from an operational point of view. But they're all touching an ecosystem that are connected. So when you think about Marketo or HubSpot, it's obviously connected to Salesforce, which often sits within the sales organization. And then we have a system such as Totango or Gainsight that also sits closely related or on top of Salesforce. And all the operational resources work in these systems, but they don't really coordinate and they don't align the processes and the change has to make into it a system. And what often happens then is this ecosystem of systems or applications starts getting out of whack. There are duplications in the data, the data is not synced, then not the right data comes across. And so the data needs, and visibility into the right data becomes really, really critical. And part of that is because many of these systems are actually user- driven. So, that's a very new concept. Most of the IT systems, there's a very clear moat around who touches the system and who gets the system, and go- to market systems, it's not that way. It's, everybody touches the system and adds information. And so how do we make sure that the data that we have, customer data, lead data, account data is actually consistent and gives us a 360 view on the customer.

Speaker 2: I like the distinction that Sylvia makes here between a user system and a typical IT system. The moat she describes around some of the IT systems, that moat doesn't really exist in systems like Salesforce, or really any tool that your go- to market teams might interact with on a daily basis. What they put in, or sometimes what they don't put in, lays the groundwork for what you can get out of that system. I also really like her simple definition of the RevOps function. RevOps job to her is to" Enable go- to market teams to scale efficiently and drive top line growth." Now we're going to talk about both halves of that definition throughout the episode, but when I heard her definition, my mind went straight to, oh, RevOps is there to play this coordination role. So one hand always knows what the other is doing. But Sylvia really pushed me to expand my thinking.

Sylvia Kainz: I think I would even go a step further. It's not a coordination. It's actually, and this is something that I'm trying to really push, it's really, RevOps has a vision and becomes a true partner of the go- to market teams. So it's not... I don't like to talk about a support function. Hey, we just make sure that the systems are aligned and the processes are fixed, or it's really, a RevOps leader should have a vision of what is the best impact that RevOps can have for top line growth. And really top line growth is what all the go- to market teams are focused on. So we're all aligned in the best case, but this vision needs to come also from RevOps. And I look at RevOps as almost the right- hand side of a chief revenue officer or chief commercial officer. But it's the focus on making sure that that vision that the chief revenue officer has put in place gets actually executed on. And that's really the focus of, as you said, aligning all these teams and making sure they're focused, they have the same objective that they all go after, which is literally just as simple as growing revenue.

Speaker 2: Yeah. And I think it goes back to that our very first definition you gave, right? Which is, it's not just about enabling their efficiency, but it is actually being a partner in driving top line growth. Was it hard to change that mentality? When you came in, you made a point of, Eventbrite is not a startup anymore, right? You came in 12 years into their existence, right? And that must have been... Was it harder at that point to introduce this function, both to the team that you were taking over, but also to your internal stakeholders?

Sylvia Kainz: So you talking about something that's really important as a RevOps team, and this is what I would call change management, right? So part of it is, I talked to you about, I had a strong focus on my team and making sure they knew what RevOps is all about and creating a home for them and also creating a future for them. However, that was not the only component. The second component is actually, as you mentioned, is going out into the organization and talking with my peers, and my peers in that sense is obviously my key stakeholders. So the go- to market teams. But there's so much more to RevOps because as soon as you start thinking, in terms of forecasting finance, and FPNA, has a very strong interest. In some organization, they're responsible for the commission administration. So you talk with them because you might be responsible for commission planning and execution and analytics. So finance suddenly becomes, we work very closely at Eventbrite bit, the IT team. And then of course there's legal, there's security. So suddenly revenue operations is focused on servicing the go- to market teams, but there is so many other touch points across the organization and they all need to be aligned. They all need to understand what RevOps is. And I think that's the biggest challenge. When I came to Eventbrite, it was my third rodeo of doing revenue operations. We didn't call it then that way, but that really was the focus. And so you start understanding very quickly that having the buy- in and the alignment from all of your stakeholders as revenue ops team is really, really critical. So my team and I, we spend a lot of time communicating our vision, the impact we can have and the responsibility that we have, so that everybody understood what was our role. And once we've done that, we got actually good, good buy- in. And it's amazing how people set like, Oh, thank God you guys are here.

Speaker 2: How do you go about actually articulating that value in your position in the organization to get that buy- in?

Sylvia Kainz: I've been wondering where to go to, I think it's something that's really critical. So my learning from having done this a couple of time is that stakeholders across the organization, they are really looking for somebody who owns the operational processes. When I look at a lot of startups, it could be Eventbrite, I worked at InsideView before. There's a lot of process that is historically grown. And when you look at a startup and particularly high- performing startups and companies, they don't have time for a lot of process. There're just trying to manage the growth in revenue that comes in and systems are probably the next priority to make sure that everything is aligned from a financial point of view, but then processes around sales, marketing, customer success, that's kind of an afterthought, because you can fix it by throwing people at it. And when you're really high growth, that's what you do, right? But then there is a point in time when you need to think about becoming really efficient in how you do things. And when I joined Eventbrite, it was clear that Eventbrite was going to go for an IPO somewhere down the line, maybe the next 12 months. Actually it was only nine months after I started, but it became very clear, if we want to go through an IPO, we need to have a focus on processes. And that's where we started working very closely with finance, obviously, but also just buttoning up our own system, then at the same time we had GDPR happening in Europe or worldwide, I should say. And so there were a lot of external factors that drove an adoption within Eventbrite, and then understanding how revenue operations would be the owner or could help with these changes that happened. And that we needed to get in place before a certain deadline came around.

Speaker 2: Process that is historically grown. I've never thought of it that way, but when you say it out loud, it's so simple and it makes so much sense, process that is historically grown. I'm sure we all have them. Oh, we do it that way because it made sense for the business at the time we created it. That day, that week, that month, it fit into our business. Sylvia and her team at Eventbrite basically went on a road show to first explain, and then prove their value to the rest of the organization. And this wasn't a young, nimble organization either. Remember Eventbrite was 12 years into its existence when Sylvia arrived. And while the term RevOps has only been around for a few years, Sylvia can trace the core of its concept back to a key component of any SAS Business, sales and marketing alignment. And she saw it grow from there.

Sylvia Kainz: It really started with saying like, hey, there's a lot of companies where marketing and sales are not aligned. They have different goals. Marketing looks more at volume, creating leads and opportunities maybe, or SQLs or MQLs, whereas sales, obviously is focused on revenue, right? And then when you think about customer success, they're focused on retention. So how does somebody like a CRO really align all these three teams and brings them under the same banner. And that's where then the first idea around sales and marketing alignment came. When I was at InsideView, and we worked on that mostly to provide visibility into the full pipeline, and then really helping us to drive visibility and transparency into forecasting. So because really what operations in SAS Businesses is, is predictability. And that's really, really important, right? To say, okay, where are we going to end up at the end of this month, at the end of the quarter? It's a drunt, and SAS is a great business model actually to really be able to accomplish that. So it started there and then I had the fortune to work with a really great customer success manager, a director at that time. And he was very interested in making sure that his team had visibility into the customers. And we implemented Gainsight at that point, it was like really early, early on and provided that visibility to the CRMs and said, hey. As Gainsight build out its product, here's a cockpit, here are red flags, here are CTAs that you need to watch because it gives you an idea of what's going on with the customer. And then the big piece of that was bringing data in from NPS data or usability data into the system and giving the CRM this visibility to say, hey, now you can actually reach out to your customer and you have great talking points. Or if you don't reach out to the customer, at least in your QBR, be aware that these might be areas that you should talk about. So we put that in place at InsideView, and then it came to full fruition I think, as I said, about a year and a half ago, when Eventbrite hired me to bring all these go- to market teams together. And that, I think now I'm seeing more and more of the research company, like SiriusDecisions, like radios talk about revenue operations, and not just talking about in a sense of SAS Businesses, but rolling it out to wider industry. Not just high tech, but really any industry out there that sees the same problem that the SAS Business has seen three, four, five years ago.

Speaker 2: Yeah. I think I even saw SiriusDecisions just came out last week with their own research packet on, here's how to do RevOps. And so it definitely reached that critical mass. I really liked what you said too, about the forecasting and predictability of a business, and then spreading that out, not just in the revenue side, but CS. I stole this line from your LinkedIn page and it said, your definition of RevOps, but then also at the end it said, all of this is based off of the transformation of data for better decision- making. And I just think that that encapsulates perfectly everything that you just described to actually run the business.

Sylvia Kainz: Ultimately for me right now, and this is my latest thinking and please, this is not yet totally formulated. But I really believe for a lot of the technology companies and other companies too, data is a competitive advantage. And I know data sounds weird, but when you think about these companies, particularly companies such as Eventbrite or any other platform company, and we have a lot of very successful platform companies right now, they have a ton of data, right? And are we leveraging that data well to really understand our customers? And so I see revenue operations as, at that point to translate, so to speak, the needs that our go- to market teams see, and the data that we have from our customers, and that are mostly owned by, let's say an engineering team or a data foundry or data scientists that sit somewhere else in the organization. And really be that neutral territory, almost like a Switzerland that brings that need for the data from the go- to market teams. And we bring that together and we have that conversation of what is the right data that you need? What would help the go- to market teams to make better, faster decision? Because ultimately again, it goes back to, we want to drive top line growth. We want to drive revenue growth.

Speaker 2: I think it's important to tease out a piece of what Sylvia is saying here. Nearly every single SAS company will tell that they are a data- driven company. It's just a given, it's plastered all over a company's website, job pages. It's one thing though, to have data available, which of course has to be your starting point. But if you go a level deeper, transforming that data into insights and leveraging data as a competitive advantage is a much more complex, more difficult skillset altogether. Which brings us to, I think the thing that of all the topics we covered, the thing that Sylvia is the most passionate about within RevOps, the people. She talked me through their strange unique skill set and which traits she looks for above all the rest in RevOps team members.

Sylvia Kainz: It's actually the people who go into revenue operations in my opinion, are the people who have disability about being pretty technical, but then also being able to be super customer- focused. And that's not an easy skillset to get. We talk a lot about this, but it's a really tough skillset. And if I could lay another skillset on top of that, really it's all about being very analytical and also being very open to this new world. So it's a really interesting species of people who get drawn into this field. And I think it's becoming more and more interesting for people who've been probably more focused on their skillset early on in their career, and suddenly they start seeing like, oh, there's a lot of opportunities in rev up where I can still be very broad. So let me give you an example. At Eventbrite, I had a Gainsight administrators on the customer success side who had been a customer success, then moved into customer success operations. Set up the system, the dashboards, et cetera. And then as I built my team, her biggest interest was to say, look, I want to be more than just the system administrator for Gainsight. I actually really want to understand Salesforce. And so by moving her into my, what I call tools team, so all my technical resources around systems, I actually gave that person the capability to say, oh, I'd like to move into an area where, yes, I'm still the Gainsight administrator, but I also can learn about the marketing admin side, or I can become more of like a developer in Salesforce. So suddenly, at that person's career opportunity, chances really widened. And that was super exciting for her. Now, not everybody might be as technical as she was, I've seen other people who said, no, I'm really interested more in the analytical side, can I actually join you analytics team? Or can we talk about that? So RevOps has this ability to be really broad and have different categories of teams that allows really ops resources that were sitting in now, the different departments before and had a two- year life cycle. But who wants to be doing the same thing more than two years? No, you want to grow, you want to do something else. And so RevOps suddenly allowed a lot of my ops managers analysts to say like, oh, I see a career path in revenue operations. And that's been really fulfilling for me.

Speaker 2: Okay. So let's recap. Sylvia's four boxes that she's looking to check in RevOps folks are that they are technical, analytical, customer- focused and most important of all to her, they are intellectually curious. With these traits in mind, I wanted to learn about how Sylvia had set up her team when she came into Eventbrite. Now, remember her definition, enable go- to market teams to scale efficiently and drive top line growth. To Sylvia, this work encompasses the entire customer journey, and it's that customer journey that most informed how she set up her team.

Sylvia Kainz: The focus on the customer for an operations team becomes really, really critical. And the only way to really wrap your mind around that is, you need to think in terms of their process, not how you built as an organization. So you can't think in terms of, oh, this is marketing and, oh, this is sales and, oh, this is customer success. Oh, this is customer support. No, you need to think in terms of how a customer interacts with you as a company. And that's not nowadays a linear process anymore. It's actually so many different touch points, almost concurrently or at different time points and they might be gaps of time in between, or it could happen in a very rapid succession. So when you think about that, you think about process. And the go- to market teams normally are not the best around process. That's why you have an ops team. And so as an ops team, you start thinking about how do I organize my own team around the process, right? What's the customer experience? And so you start thinking very quickly around, you can keep them in marketing ops, sales ops, customer experience ops. You have to actually flip that model upside down. And really when I mean upside down, you start thinking more in the terms of, there's going to be team members that are really focused on the systems that we manage and the data that flows through the systems. And we talked a little bit earlier about this. And so you need to align these systems and they need to be one ecosystem. And so you build a team around the system. So these are technical resources, such as Marketo admins, Salesforce admins, developers, architects, and also Gainsight administrators. And that could be more, it depends how much you bill out that system. So you put them all in a team. And I put them in a team that I called tools team. And maybe that it's not just fair because it's not just tools, there's actually systems around it. So that's one team and they become a pot of technical resources that give you a really, a lot of lever because suddenly you aligned them to what I would call typical engineering product cycle. And so I align them to like a typical agile methodology that was very, very closely tied to how our own product engineers at Eventbrite operated. And when you do that, you have a really good rhythm of when you're releasing updates, keeping everybody informed about it, the communication, the change management piece, the enablement piece that is required to put this all in place. In order to do that though, you need a team that sits between the technical team and your customers or the stakeholders. And that is what I call, my business ops team. And really what they are, they are program and project managers. And they're really what I call the glue across the organization. They are team members who really go and define requirements with our customers. They sit down and say like, okay, where are your pain points? What's not working? What do we have to change? And they write very clearly statements and then they bring them back to our RevOps team, particularly the technical team and review them and prioritize them and define milestones and technical requirements. Once they'd done that, they go back out to our customers or stakeholders and they have a conversation, negotiation and the prioritization and not just what got on the roadmap, but also within the roadmap, what's the highest priority? And once you do that, you get into a rhythm that is really good for the technical team, the tools team, but also good for everybody across your organization because they get no visibility what the RevOps team is working on. So the business ops people are, they're my favorite because it's probably my background in there, but it's really critical for me to say, if you have good business ops people, the RevOps team starts to become a really smooth engine, which is really the ultimate goal. But that's not the whole, then there's my analytics team and these are the people who are coming in once the system is in place, once the processes are in place, projects are rolled out. They actually look with a very critical eye at what the performances of the different teams. And they are the owner of saying, okay, are we all aligned? When we measure, how successful we are with the business. When you look at a large company such as Eventbrite, who is in many, many countries around the world, and has many teams actually sales and marketing teams in different geographies, you need to have a very standardized approach in managing them. Because the worst thing you can do is when each of these team comes to you and says, no, no, no, no, we're looking at the business in a different way and these are the KPIs that we like to see. You have to standardize them and that needs to be a long, the full funnel. So anywhere from marketing all the way, again, to retention. And that team, the analytics team is the one that is strongly focused, in my opinion, on creating that set of KPIs, of visibility, of meetings that allows everybody around the world to know how we perform 24 by seven. Now what that team also needs to do, and this is really critical is, they can't do one- offs. And when I say one- offs, this is how most smaller companies still operate. They ask the analytics team, oh, can you run me a report so I know where I am because I have a board meeting, or I need to report out to my CRO. And when you grow and you grow fast, you start understanding that's not scalable because you need to throw a lot of resources at the analytics team. And so the best approach really to that is to automate that process and make it transparent and visible to everybody in the organization. So that could be the CFO, that could be the CRO, that could be the CEO and all the sales and marketing teams also. And so for me, the analytics team, their key big project is not just keeping everybody informed, but doing it in a very smart, automated and transparent way by making this available to everybody in your organization, 24 by seven. And that's a big task. And a lot of companies out there have done that, but haven't really focused on it. And the first part, when you're in RevOps, the biggest complaint is, I need analytical resources. I need to know how I perform. And when you think about that, you can hire a bunch of really good analysts from investment banks or from an FPNA function, but really what it comes down to is you need to start automating that. And that's really, for me, a big scalable solution for an analytics team. And then they can focus, once they've done that, they have a lot of effort that needs to go into that to maintain that. But there is also then availability of these resources or team members to really do deep dives, really specific questions that the CRO might have, the CFO or somebody else might have. And that's where they should spend their time because they're really, that's what they like doing and that's what they're really good at. So it's a phased approach in a way, right? Initially it is, these teams are in spreadsheets and then you start thinking about, okay, how can I automate or how can I scale them? And then you start thinking about automation and then when they do automation well, you suddenly start understanding that you can use these very expensive resources to actually do some really interesting analytical deep dives.

Speaker 2: Oh my gosh, I've taken a bunch of notes here and I have a lot of questions for you. So on the BizOps function, the BizOps part of the team, those program and project managers, do you have them working cross- functionally between sales, CS, marketing, or are there sales ops or sales program managers, marketing program managers? How do you organize them and how do you prevent them from becoming so pigeonholed into one or the other?

Sylvia Kainz: So my experience is, the last thing they want is to be pigeonholed. They're actually people with a skillset who like working across the organization and actually not just the go- to market teams, but really across the organization. And they thrive on that. And they like talking to business owners and help translate these requirements to the technical team. So they got like almost a leg on the technical side and a leg on the business side. But they're business people. They're really great project managers, but they enjoy the technical aspect of it too. And my experience has been, they like to go broad instead of necessarily deep. And what's really important is that you don't keep them in the typical marketing function and they don't want to be. They actually, part of their career development is almost to say, okay, you've done marketing ops, marketing project management, now for almost a year, let's expand your scope, right? And they get super excited about that. They learn. And they're really, that is the type of employee who likes to learn, who likes to stretch their mind, they love to better understand the organization and how all those pieces are fitting together. And if you get that right mindset, you can get an awesome team.

Speaker 2: Right. And I would imagine, yeah, that's super powerful, especially from a career development standpoint. If I'm on the other side of that, and I'm the sales or marketing or CS leader, how do you manage their expectations? Because certainly, they're going to gravitate towards the person they know the most or the person who's worked on the projects with them the most. How do you manage their expectations and prove to them that it's not just... It's not going to be as valuable to them to have the same person all the time, because I think that's what everyone would default wanting.

Sylvia Kainz: It's a very common occurrence that people gravitated to people they've worked with before, or they believe that's the expert in that particular area. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's totally fine. It's just not scalable because that's just one person, and how much work can that person do when there's so many projects actually. I think it is a reputation that revenue ops has to build over time. And I say that because revenue ops is so new, so nobody really knows. Are they still servicing me? Are they still helping me when I am in need? And you need to very clearly built that trust with your key stakeholders and say, look, yes, this person has always done marketing ops, but now we're actually helping this person grow and she will become an advisor to this project, but somebody else will actually run it. And so we've done that often in my experience, particularly at Eventbrite where I had to build it that way, was very, very good. So the marketing executives and team members were really understanding, they were aligned. It required a lot of communication and clarification. And sometimes it took us really almost 12 months to get there. But once we got there, everybody said, oh, this is awesome, now I don't just have one person, I actually have a whole team I can rely on. And that's really for me success, right? Because then they understand, hey, it's not that person, because when that person leaves who do they go to? Now they have a function that helps them solve. And that's really, I think really where you want to get ultimately.

Speaker 2: That's the holy grail for an ops team function right there. This confluence of systems, business, operations and analysis coming together to create this well- oiled machine that is not just servicing the company, but actually creating value. At Drift, while we have a centralized ops team, it's true, we have more of a hub and spoke model. Sales ops is dedicated resource to sales, marketing ops to marketing, and so on. Now, Sylvia's organizational design for her team gave me a lot to think about in terms of not only what's best for my company, but also for the growth and development of the people on my team. And one area that can be difficult to articulate is the value of an ops team back to an organization, particularly when it comes to adding resources or headcount. It's ironic, right? We spend all this time measuring things and transforming data into insights. But for me, at least, measuring myself and measuring my team has been challenging compared to measuring other parts of the organization. So I was curious if Sylvia had figured that out.

Sylvia Kainz: So I don't have a clear rule of thumb, but let me tell you how I think about this. If you have a high growth company, right? Could be startup, could be a little bit more developed already, and you are growing tremendously, you're adding sales reps, right? That's almost the first sign, you're adding a lot of customer success managers, you're adding sales reps, maybe you're adding a lot of marketing people. But when your stakeholders, rev op stakeholders are growing tremendously, you know that the complexity of the processes and the systems will increase. And when you see that, you look at your own team, you look at your systems, the quality of the systems, the data and the processes and you'll have to ask yourself, with the current team that I have, can I put the changes in place as fast as the stakeholders the go- to market teams require? And when you look at that and you calculate that, you start realizing very quickly, either you can do it with your team that you have, or you need to make changes. And when you look at the team that you have, it depends how high performing that team is, right? So maybe if you inherited a team and you're early on and making sure that they're all performing really well, you may look at the team and say, there's some individuals that just may not be in the right role, or they might just not have the right skillset for operations. And so you have to make changes there. So this is more kind of getting better resources into your team. So that's not necessarily more, just better resources into the team. And then the second one is, you look at, let's say you have the better resources now in the team. And you say, these are the best resources I can get. They're working 24 by seven around the clock, but we're still not getting... We can't perform or scale the go- to market team as fast as we want to. And that's where I come in and say, we really need the resources, additional resources to help us to get to that automation, to get to that transparency we want to have. And often that is a negotiation with the CRO, could be a negotiation with my peers like heads of sales, marketing, customer success. And you really say, look, this is what I have, I want to run faster. I want to give you what you need tomorrow, but I'm limited, okay? So then you have to negotiation, hey, what is the highest priority? So let's prioritize. And that helps me focus my team on the right things because I have limited resources. And then the second one is, you have a conversation around if I had one person more, this is what we could accomplish. And as a team, and I always like to do this as a go- to market team, are we all aligned that if we had one resource more, we would actually, let's say, hire a Salesforce developer because our system is what gives us the most trouble, or should we actually hire a marketing ops focused person? Because it really is where we have a lot of the bottlenecks. And I'd like to do this, not just by talking to one of the heads of the department, but as an organization. Because I think if we aligned that as a company, in order to drive revenue that additional incremental revenue ops person can help us grow faster, then it becomes really clear and simple of what we need to hire next and where we need to focus that resource on.

Speaker 2: And are you trying to drive that back to actual revenue? Is that the data you're bringing to that negotiation with your CRO?

Sylvia Kainz: It's sometimes not as easy obviously, but if I can quantify it and I think that's the job of revenue ops, we'll do as much as we can. And what I've seen, and particularly at Eventbrite, where we had this discussion, it was beautiful how the heads of the different departments we all came together and said, yes, I'm going to give you a head count because this is so painful for me, I want you to fix it. And that is amazing. That is change management and team culture and focus and alignment across the go- to market teams. That is really amazing for me. That's what I asked buyer or would advise everybody to aspire wherever they built the revenue ops option.

Speaker 2: Before we go, at the end of each show we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months.

Sylvia Kainz: Ooh, I'm reading one right now that I love, which is, Upheaval by Jared diamond. It's his newest book. This is the guy who wrote Germs, Steel and something else, I forgot. And also a collusion and Upheaval is his latest book about national political crisis and how some countries manage them really well and other stones. And he draws then a little bit of a conclusion, how this is applicable to our own personal crisis. So that's my favorite book right now.

Speaker 2: Nice. Favorite part about working in ops?

Sylvia Kainz: I love high- functioning RevOps teams. They're for me, like a Swiss clock. I know we all live in the digital age, but if you think about an old analog or a high luxury piece of Swiss watch, and if you ever turn it around and you can actually see the inner functioning of that, and you see how the movements are interrelated and they click and tick and they make that whole piece of beautiful watch actually tick and work well, that is for me how I look at operations and that's beautiful.

Speaker 2: Least favorite part about working in ops?

Sylvia Kainz: Proving that we can really have an impact on revenue. It's really hard. And I haven't found a solution yet, but I'm working on it and I'm iterating and I'm hoping that my peers in RevOps will also think about this and come up with a solution and share it with me.

Speaker 2: Yeah. Let me know if you get there first, because it's kind of what you were saying, like our whole job is to bring data to these conversations. And I feel like the place where we're the weakest at doing that is with our own work, which is, I guess, irony at its best. Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today.

Sylvia Kainz: The first one is Meredith Schmidt. She was, I think she's not anymore, the EVP of RevOps at Salesforce. And she is just phenomenal. And I think she was almost the first person who had the title of RevOps, and how she built the team and scaled it obviously. She's been with Salesforce for, I don't know, since the beginning almost. And I just admire her. I had conversations with her and she is just awesome of how she thinks about aligning all the pieces and making revenue operations a really valued member of a big team. And then the second person who really impacted me was actually Brian Rothenberg. He was our VP of Growth at Eventbrite. And he just opened up my eyes to how critical and important data is around our revenue ops function. And part of that is mostly, I knew it from before, we know about data in Salesforce, et cetera, but he just brought me up to speed and explained to me what growth hacking is and how revenue ops can actually also help by that, and how it really drives visibility of this data that our go- to market teams need.

Speaker 2: Amazing. We have a growth show at Drift as well. So we'll have to get Brian on that one. Last one for you, one piece of advice for people who want to have your job someday.

Sylvia Kainz: It took me very long to actually get into revenue ops and operations. So I was almost halfway through my career before I really figured it out. I think revenue ops is becoming such a hot topic and such a great opportunity, maybe for the person who's early on in dairy career, give it a try. It's really broad. You don't have to be nailed down. It gives you a lot of opportunities. I would get into revenue ops if I were a recent grad or early on my career.

Speaker 2: That's all we got for this episode of operations. A huge thank you to Sylvia Kainz for joining us and being our guest on today's episode. She taught us so, so much. Fun fact for everybody, she actually told me as well that she is a former HBS classmate of one of our previous guests, Brett Queener, so small ops world. That's going to do it. If you enjoy what you hear, please give us some feedback. Either tweet at me @ shawneebiz, send me a note on LinkedIn or leave us one of those coveted reviews on Apple Podcasts. My wife keeps telling me that no one knows what I'm talking about when I say leave us a six star review. So quick context. Yes, I know that you can only leave up to five stars on Apple Podcasts, but our CEO, David Cancel has been preaching this idea of getting six star reviews for all of our podcasts since the beginning of seeking wisdom. So yes, we know there's only five available, give us five and leave six in the comments to let us know that you're listening and you care about the show. That's going to do it for me, see you next time.


On this episode of Operations, Sean meets with Sylvia Kainz, VP of Global Revenue Operations at Eventbrite. Sylvia joined Eventbrite when the company was 12 years into its existence and on the brink of going public– and was tasked with creating a RevOps team from scratch. No small feat. Sylvia shares what that experience was like and what she learned from it, as well as her definition for RevOps, how to give ops pros a home, and her recipe for the best way to organize and structure your RevOps team.