Execs need to be the kind of leaders people want to follow

By Andrew Gori

Published December 5, 2017
Last updated December 5, 2017

Sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until you’ve experienced something else. Earlier on in my career, I was looking to join a company whose vision and executive leadership I believed in. I thought I’d found that until one unfortunate day when a male executive told me that he “likes to hire women because they work twice as hard for half as much.”

No—this wasn’t 20 years ago in a rural town; it was not really that long ago in the Bay Area. I was stunned and then royally upset. I no longer wanted that executive visibility and instead wanted to hide in a tiny cocoon.

At the time, I didn’t know how to handle the situation. But I did make myself a promise: that I would no longer work at a company where I couldn’t see myself building a career and having the desire to gain visibility with the leadership. Thankfully, some years later, I landed at this quirky startup called Zendesk. I was the first customer success executive and, to be honest, really had no clue what I was doing. Luckily, I did have a desire to succeed, tremendously helpful colleagues, and management that communicated a strong vision.

Fast forward to today and we’ve figured out a few things. I’m super proud of the badass team we have today, who together provide unparalleled support to make sure our customers succeed. This would not have been possible without programs like Elevate, a leadership and mentoring program for women by Everwise, and the support of our executive team.

It’s our 10-year anniversary and we’ve got some wisdom to share. Read more of the big lessons we’ve learned over the years.