From finance professional to customer success

Josh Starr (sitting, bottom right of the picture) with a team of finance professionals managing customer success

I’m going to confess. Customer Success was not part of my career trajectory. Even when joining Datarails on the Customer Success team, I viewed it as a stepping stone in the finance world. For example, in my LinkedIn profile, I called my position “FP&A consultant”, deliberately leaving off “Customer Success”. All with the intention of leveraging myself within the finance world. My experience at Datarails has shifted my attitude and career aspirations. 

I’d like to highlight three main reasons for my change of heart:

  1. Centrality of CS to an organization’s success
  2. Disrupting an industry
  3. Being on a Dream Team

Customer Success the Core of any SaaS Company

One of the reasons I love finance is the centrality and responsibility entrusted in the finance team. I recall interviewing a CFO in Tel Aviv. I asked him what drew him towards the CFO position. He pointed to the wall behind him, and said there is “no one behind me”. In other words, the responsibility to lead the entire company. 

What I came to learn is that Customer Success is more than just a department, it is a philosophy integral to the entire organizational success. To quote the book “Customer Success”, by Nick Mehta, Dan Steinman, and Lincoln Murphy, “CS must “pervade the entire company. No organization, or job role, can function in a vacuum, and customer success is the best example of this. It requires a top-down, company-wide commitment to truly deliver world-class customer success.” 

It may be that every team in a company sees their activities as the most significant, but I see customer success as being at the heart of a customer-centric company like Datarails. All other departments revolve around Customer Success. For example, CS acts as the voice of the customer to promote product development. Post Sales, CS owns onboarding, implementation, and product adoption. Marketing collaborates with Customer Success to optimally target potential customers and to collaborate on projects. Needless to say, the entire experience is under the responsibility of CS.

CS at Datarails is Revolutionizing an Industry

While most disciplines have leveraged technology to increase productivity, FP&A is lagging behind. Datarails is at the forefront of modernizing FP&A and the CS team helps drive the product. Having previous finance experience, our CS team can amplify the voice of the customer. Typically, CS relates the customer’s needs to production to enhance the overall product and user experience. At Datarails,  the CS team has similar industry experience and knowing Datarails, the CS team is leading the change in how FP&A operates via Datarails. 


I find Customer Success similar to Basketball. In basketball, great teams get contributions from individual contributions from everyone. Each teammate brings unique talents and skills, and a team-first attitude allows the sum to be greater than the parts. While some players excel in scoring, others might get assists, some rebound, exc. It is the job of a great coach to put everyone in the right spots to maximize their individual potential. 

On our Customer Success team, everyone can dribble, shoot, pass and play defense; however, each person has a unique area that they bring to the table. Some are more technical, while others have more FP&A experience. Management does an excellent job at identifying everyone’s unique point of contribution. I personally love the customer interaction, so I am put in the right spots to make my biggest contribution. 


While many finance professionals might find a switch to a Customer Success role as a professional detour, for me this switch is opening up new doors. At Datarails, CS is at the center of the organization having an integral impact on product development. Lastly, working on an amazing and diverse team enables us to reach heights we could never have achieved as individuals.

Finance professionals who are skeptical of switch to CS:

  1. Customer Success is at the core of any SaaS company. If you desire leadership and responsibility, CS is the perfect place for you.
  2. There is tremendous satisfaction changing the landscape of an entire industry. Joining Datarails CS, you have an active part in driving the product forward.
  3. Customer Success is bigger than any person, and teamwork enables us to go places no person can go on their own. Everyone makes contributions and together we are building something special.