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      Inside Bloomreach

      Meet the Team: Senior Manager, Services Operations Shannon Stark

      By Petra Trubinska

      Apr 19, 2022

      12 min read

      Inside Bloomreach

      Meet the Team: Senior Manager, Services Operations Shannon Stark

      Shannon is a member of our Technical Services Operations team, and has been with Bloomreach for six months now. We spent some time chatting with her about her experience with the company to give prospective candidates a chance to better understand what it’s like being part of our Operations team.

      When and how did you realize that you would like to work within technical services?

      I like to say that “I grew up in services.” My career started in marketing with customer-facing services roles. Over time, and after receiving my Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, I shifted my direction from marketing into a software I'd used previously, while maintaining a focus on professional services. I liked marketing, but to be honest, I don't miss it much — I see myself more within operations. 

      Prior to coming to Bloomreach, I had a couple opportunities for professional growth: 1) to move into a role supporting Customer Success and 2) to pursue my Masters in Business Administration (MBA). I spent about 18 months working within the Customer Success department, allowing me to better understand a customer’s software journey from end to end. My last role was an extremely valuable experience and paired with my classroom learning, I have realized that my skills and passion are within professional and technical services teams. 

      How did you find out about Bloomreach?

      Networking! An old coworker of mine knows someone who works at Bloomreach (shout out to Lisa Wilkinson!) and when I was looking for my next opportunity, he connected us. I wanted to grow with the company on a micro level and when my old company had been acquired by a very large software company, I knew it was time for me to make a move. Bloomreach’s values, size, and future plans all matched exactly with what I was looking for in my next opportunity.

      Walk us through a day in the life of a Service Operations Manager at Bloomreach!

      While each day is different (which I love!), all days include some of the following: 

      • Team meetings: Whether with my peer team or the project management team, I can’t do my work alone. I work with cross-functional teams across the company — by regions, across pillars, and by departments. 

      • Data hygiene: I am constantly reviewing our project data in Workfront (our professional services system of record) to ensure it is clean. The project-related data we input into Workfront is shared with our Finance department and I am the bridge for transferring that data. 

      • Process analysis, documentation, refinement: Bloomreach has been growing at record speeds and part of my role is to help us focus on operational rigor to prepare for an IPO. 

      What qualities would you say a person who wants to become a Service Operations Manager needs to possess? 

      In terms of hard skills, I would say having a deep understanding of how services works is a really strong backbone — including contracts, and the lifecycle of a project. They wouldn't need to be an expert on the financial, product, and sales aspects of it, but should have a deep understanding of the contractual process, why services work the way they do, how we can deliver in the project scope and functionality, and a good sense of the delicate balance between the individual processes. In terms of soft skills, especially in Bloomreach, my team talks a lot about “don't let the great be the enemy of good,” meaning a lot of times, we need a process right now and it doesn't need to be perfect right away — we can always come back to it later to refine it. Having that balance can be a bit tiring mentally, but it's worth it in the end. 

      What is the most rewarding part of your role?

      I love solving problems and teaching others. Bloomreach’s recent growth and acquisitions have created interesting business challenges that I enjoy working with cross-functional teams throughout the company to solve. 

      Additionally, if I were to choose another career, it would be something like teaching or coaching. I believe in lifelong learning, which is also one of the reasons why I did the MBA. I love that my role allows me to teach and encourage others in an organic way as we develop and refine our business practices and operations. 

      What do you consider the most challenging part of your role?

      My work is not siloed within our department. I work with various teams throughout the company and they are stakeholders in process changes that I implement. I have to think holistically about the business’ operations and not only about Technical Services operations. Stakeholder alignment is always a challenge, but it's fun when you really enjoy the people you work with!

      You joined Bloomreach just recently, around 6 months ago. How do you like it so far? 

      It's really good! I have to say the culture is very refreshing — I love working in places that value truth and transparency. For example, we have our all-hands meetings every other week to better understand what's happening with the business across the organization. I love our values and it's great seeing that people actually live them. I believe that being able to give and receive feedback openly is how you do business and improve, so it's been really refreshing. 

      What would you say is your favorite thing about working for Bloomreach?

      I love our culture and believe it is a strategic differentiator for us. Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I completely agree with that. Our core values allow us to move faster, learn more, and deliver a better experience for our customers. 

      Coolest story involving your team? 

      While not a specific story, I think the coolest thing about my team is how well we operate considering we have never met in person as a group. Building trust, creating team norms, and navigating constant change is hard when you are in an office, and even harder when you are remote. I am so proud to work with a team that proves the virtual-first model works — but I also look forward to getting to meet them in person someday. :) 

      In three words, how would you describe the culture at Bloomreach?

      Transparent, truthful, and trusting. 

      Why did you choose these three qualities? 

      I think that the company does a great job of being transparent, such as by having the above mentioned all-hands every other week. We make sure the information and messaging gets cascaded down into the departments and different teams. I think it's important for us all to work towards the same goals for operational efficiency. In terms of trust, it's not easy being “virtual-first.” I've been remote even pre-COVID, but it's hard to be onboarded virtually and I do think it's important to find the space for psychological safety on teams, finding ways to be truthful (for example to stand up to someone having different opinion from theirs via a call is not always easy), to spend time with the team, and doing fun things like Donut meetings (an app we use for meeting people across the company). 

      Finding ways to build a culture virtually can be challenging and I've been impressed by the things that Bloomreach has tried — how we do employee onboarding through Mini Summit (our onboarding program) or the Spring Challenge (an all-company sports competition), for example. Making time for fun and play at work is extremely important and there's so much research behind it — it really creates teams that can trust each other. And that's where the trusting part comes in: We do things that build trust and because we have trusting teams, we can move faster and do better work. Our truth value is probably one of the best ways I've seen the value phrased. It's not an opinion thing or disagreeing, it's just speaking your truth and I see how it pans out positively in teams. 

      Speaking of connecting with other people within a virtual-first culture: can you tell us more about “Weekly Wednesday TOPIC”?

      It's hard to make friends in a virtual-first culture — I know the people in my department and I like them, but it's not like you can just chat with them in a hallway. I joined a “FAB - Females at Bloomreach” Slack channel and started a Weekly Wednesday TOPIC activity there. I have a box of ice breaker questions and I just grab one to post every Wednesday. It's so nice to get to know the people around the company and get to know their family traditions, their favorite holiday, little things like that. It takes just a minute to care about people personally so then when you have to have a challenging professional conversation, you do have that respect for each other already built up. You have to care — we're all humans behind the screens. 

      How do you learn new things applicable to your role? (within the team, outside work)

      I think it is important to be a student — always. Outside of work, in addition to getting my MBA, I also keep my PMP certification current by attending webinars (and hopefully in-person events again soon!). Inside of work, I love being involved in the Donut meetings! Even in quick, 30-minute meetings, I learn so much from other Bloomreachers that helps me better understand our business as a whole. 

      Outside of Bloomreach,  what are you passionate about? 

      Despite being in tech, I am a pretty “unplugged” person outside of work (we don’t even own a TV!). To recharge, I love being outside in almost any form, especially walking our two dogs, working in the garden with my husband (mostly vegetables and flowers —  I love giving bouquets to my neighbors!), crossfit, and paddleboarding. 

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      Petra Trubinska

      Employer Brand Manager at Bloomreach

      Petra is the Employer Brand Manager at Bloomreach, and is focused on capturing and amplifying the experiences of Bloomreach employees around the world. A brand manager with a background in marketing, PR, and events, she believes that people are a company’s most precious commodity, and prioritizing investments into their growth can attract the highest quality of global talent. Petra is also an amateur yogi, inspiring conversations enthusiast, cute furry animals fan, and a huge food lover.

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