Jen Gause, VP of Sales Operations, likes to think of herself as scrappy. In five years at Upland, she has gotten her hands dirty in crucial projects like reorganizing workflows and automating renewals. She consistently rises to challenges, and the company reaps the benefits of her and her team’s hard work every day. Success is a multiplayer game, and Jen finds the most pride and satisfaction from uplifting her team members and watching them thrive. Learn more about her “people and processes” approach to Sales Ops below.
Q: Who, what, and where are you?
A: I’m Jen Gause, and I go by she/her pronouns. I’m the VP of Sales Operations, and I’m based out of Austin, Texas.
Q: What does it mean to be the VP of Sales Operations? What is your day-to-day work like?
A: The great thing about this job is some days, you just really don’t know what you’re going to get. With operations, we’re taking a lot of requirements and needs from many different functions in the business. Our main purpose is to facilitate sales and transactions, but we’re also doing that while balancing needs from other departments too. That can be challenging, but also really exciting.
Q: How and when did you start working at Upland?
A: I started working at Upland in October of 2017, so I’ve been here for just about five years. I started my career at Quest Software, which was a divestiture from Dell. I was recruited by them coming out of school, and kind of worked my way up, and eventually left with the Quest sell off. I was introduced to Paul Miller, COO, and he had an opening on his team. We had a great conversation; he told me it would be hard, and there was a lot to fix. I knew I could lean into the chaos of the job, and I was excited to have something keep me on my toes.
Q: Tell me a time you felt like you were a part of an effective team.
A: When I started, it did not feel that way. It had nothing to do with the individuals on my team, it was because of the structure and nature of the company. We needed to really put work into getting our teams organized and regimented on a standardized process. Without that structure, just the basics were really challenging. The last five years have gotten us to a point where I feel like I’m part of a well-oiled machine. Now we’re several layers deep on the things that we’re working on. I’m immensely proud of my team and what they’ve built and done to get here.
Q: What did it take to build that team and get that workflow?
A: My first answer is that it’s about people. One of the most important things that I’ve done as a leader is find good people to come work here. We have a wonderful team of contractors, some of them have been here since before I started. They’re really committed to Upland, which I love. Then it starts at the front lines, the people that we’re most dependent on. We really must make sure we’re bringing in the right candidates and doing everything we can to position them for success. The next layer is leadership, making sure the managers and leaders are all good fits and have the right mentality about working at a company like Upland. The number one thing it takes is people, putting value around them and making sure they know how important they are.
The second answer is developing rapport with your different business partners so you can build processes that we can repeat. The chaos aspect is interesting, but you also need to be able to get the job done. The way to do that is to clean everything up so that people can work as efficiently as possible. Like I said, the relationship we’ve built with our business partners helped develop these processes.
Q: What has your career growth at Upland been like?
A: When I came to Upland, I only had five direct reports, but the same title as my previous job. I came under the premise that there was some really cool stuff happening here, and I would get an opportunity to grow with the company. I like to say I put in my grunt work for the first two years at Upland. When you take ownership of something, you have to own it, even if some of the things started before you got there. It was hard, but it allowed me to develop more skills, get more opportunities and take on more complex problems. I was promoted to Senior Director, then I became a VP. My team grew tremendously, we went from five to about 50 people. That’s truly been the best part of my growth story, watching everybody who has been here with me since the beginning grow.
Q: Helping your team grow is such an important part of being a manager and a leader. How have you helped the folks on your team achieve their goals?
A: We have a great team of contractors, and we put a lot of emphasis in making sure they know what options they have at Upland if they continue to stay here, even as a contractor. Some of my favorite things that we’ve done is taking our entry level positions and been facilitating them into more complicated positions. For example, we took people that were already at the company, developed their skills, and now they handle usage billing for us. I’m proud of everything that all of them have done to get to this point.
We also like to promote from within. Someone on my team came in processing orders, then he moved to a team lead and manager role, and now he’s a business analyst for us. He’s well known across the company and really well respected. The biggest thing is giving people opportunities, so whenever things come up, ask who’s interested in participating or helping to test or train. When people show initiative, we reward and build on that.
Q: Tell me about a time you felt successful.
A: When I started at the company, the way that we were managing renewals was 100% manual. We built automation for the system in partnership with some of our really important Salesforce developers over an 18-month period. My team went on an extensive effort to clean up the data so that this all happens seamlessly now. Every day, I’m thankful for that. Not only did we feel successful after we reached that milestone, but every day we feel the reward from that.
Q: Who inspires you?
A: I’ve got a lot of really great people on my team. So when I see and hear about them doing well, that’s really inspiring to me. I also have an immense amount of respect for my boss, Paul Miller. I’ve been fortunate in my career; I’ve always had good supportive bosses for the most part. He’s the one that I’ve learned the most from out of anybody that I’ve ever worked for.
The people that ground me the most and then in a way inspire me are my kids! They have the most direct way of saying things and observing things. They look at the world in a different way, their resolution to things is so simple. They’re actually quite useful in that way.
Q: What are you looking forward to?
A: I’m excited that we’re getting to start to see each other more in the office. I know we have employees everywhere, and we’re doing a lot of things to keep each other engaged. But I have missed seeing my coworkers in Austin. There’s more activities starting to happen in the in the Austin office, that is super fun. Then on a personal note, both of my sons are pretty talented soccer players, and have an opportunity to go play in the Netherlands this summer through Feyenoord Academy. My husband I are looking forward to watching them do what they love and cheer them on!