Introducing 2 Customer-Obsessed Leaders Making Major Career Moves

No matter where these leaders go, customer loyalty — and revenue — follow. Meet Domino Data Labs’ new chief customer officer and Spotnana’s new VP of customer experience.

Written by Conlan Carter
Published on Apr. 18, 2024
Introducing 2 Customer-Obsessed Leaders Making Major Career Moves
Image: Shutterstock
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“I’m going to Disneyland!” 

This phrase has become the mantra of excited children and parents alike, anxious for their upcoming trip. 

For parkgoers of all ages, the Disneyland experience is summed up as “magical,” but this magic could more accurately be described as “customer obsession.” At Disneyland, every employee is trained to make every guest — designated as VIPs, or “Very Individual Persons” — feel special and unique.

Customer obsession — a phrase popularized by Amazon — has become the standard for growth-oriented businesses. Companies that adopt a customer-obsessed approach are more likely to double their customer retention and revenue growth as a result, according to a survey from Forrester. 

 

Read MoreHere’s How to Make Your Company Customer Centric

 

And the more resources a business invests in getting to know its customers, the more opportunities arise for building loyal customer relationships — and a magical brand image. The key “Very Individual Persons” leading these investments are the leaders with a passion for every individual customer.

At two San Francisco-based companies, recent leadership hires are evidence of their investment in becoming customer obsessed. And transforming a culture of customer obsession into major revenue milestones is the bread and butter of these new hires. 

Built In San Francisco sat down with Hemal Kanani, chief customer officer at Domino Data Lab, and Shilpi Narang, vice president of customer experience at Spotnana, to learn about their background and what lies ahead for them in their new roles. 

 

 

Hemal Kanani
Chief Customer Officer • Domino Data Lab


Domino Data Lab is an enterprise AI platform that enables data science teams to rapidly develop and deploy models that drive breakthrough innovation and competitive advantage.


Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

My name is Hemal Kanani, and I currently steer Domino’s customer experience organization as chief customer officer. I oversee critical functions including professional services, education services, customer success and CS engineering, account management and global support. 

My career journey has been one of relentless growth and transformation. Starting at GE and UBS, I quickly realized my passion for the fast-paced, high-impact world of startups. Joining Cloudera in 2012 was pivotal — the company had less than $20 million in revenue, but I saw incredible potential. Over the next decade, I poured my energy into scaling Cloudera's success, rising from an individual contributor to leading the global professional services team of over 350. Cloudera’s 2018 merger with Hortonworks thrust me into a new realm of leadership as chief of staff, spearheading the integration of two public companies with a $5.2 billion market cap. 

Post-merger, I was responsible for migrating over $850 million of ARR on legacy products and driving customer adoption. Through it all, my unwavering focus on execution and driving results remained consistent. Now, I'm thrilled to bring this same spirit of leadership to Domino.

 

How would you describe your leadership style, and how do you hope to apply this in your role at Domino Data Lab?

As a leader, I’m guided by three unwavering principles. First, always start with “why.” When you connect people to a shared purpose, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. I strive to articulate a vision so clear and compelling that it rallies the entire team.

 

“When you connect people to a shared purpose, there’s no limit to what they can achieve. I strive to articulate a vision so clear and compelling that it rallies the entire team.”

 

Second, trust and empower your people. I have deep faith in the knowledge and capability of my team. My role is to give them the autonomy to make bold decisions and the support to overcome any obstacle. 

Finally, embrace continuous transformation. In our world, change is the only constant. I push myself and my team to continuously evolve, both in how we work internally and in the value we deliver to customers. The nature of work in the world of AI demands that we stay on top of all the latest developments and trends. This means continuous learning, and reevaluating the best way to accomplish the goal at hand. 

At Domino, I’m excited to bring this leadership approach to bear as we extend our leadership in core industries, continue to build value for our customers and drive profitable growth. Through a shared sense of purpose and a bias for action, I know we’ll achieve incredible things together, one quarter at a time.

 

 

 

Shilpi Narang
Vice President, Customer Experience • Spotnana

Spotnana’s travel-as-a-service platform makes corporate travel simpler and more affordable.

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

To my new role as vice president of customer success at Spotnana, I bring over 20 years of experience in customer-centric leadership roles, delivering customer-driven revenue growth, driving operational effectiveness and building high-performance organizations that scale. In my previous role as chief customer officer at Bolt, I led the global customer success, support, professional services and risk operations teams. I have also held customer-facing leadership roles at Meta, SugarCRM and Gartner.

As a growing company on a mission to modernize the travel ecosystem, Spotnana is committed to adapting, scaling and putting the customer at the center of all we do. Now that we are working with several Fortune 100 customers, I’m excited to align our customer success and travel operations teams to ensure we connect all aspects of our customer journey and deliver on our mission.

 

“As a growing company on a mission to modernize the travel ecosystem, we are committed to adapting, scaling and putting the customer at the center of all we do.”
 

 

Beyond onboarding and getting up to speed on the internal workings of your new team, what’s your first order of business at Spotnana?

Spotnana is at a pivotal point in its growth. As the new customer experience leader, I’m currently getting to know everyone on my team, identifying opportunities for us to grow together and finding ways to deliver the best experience possible to our customers. Our customer base is rapidly expanding, so I’m excited to work alongside such a passionate team to deliver innovation to our customers.

At Spotnana, we believe that travel is a human emotion. I’m focused on providing world-class customer service to all travelers who use our platform and ensuring our customer success agents address every traveler’s unique needs. I’m also focused on accelerating customer implementations and ensuring that each company’s corporate travel program is set up for success.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images provided by Shutterstock and listed companies.

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