At Emergence, our second core value is “strive to be your most important partner”. To do this, we draw from learnings gathered over two decades of partnering exclusively with B2B software companies. And from the network of top SaaS operators we’ve built along the way.
When we thought about structuring a formal program to pair these operators with our founders, we used the same principle we apply to investing: focus on depth vs breadth. We wanted to avoid the trap of having a webpage of advisors who aren’t deeply invested in and knowledgeable about the companies they are advising.
To that end, we structured our Operator in Residence program with a focus on board service. Our OIRs join boards of portfolio companies, alongside Emergence partners. In so doing, they dive deep into the businesses they work with, partnering with executives to solve specific problems by leveraging their functional expertise. With this structure, our founders get to learn from dedicated executives who have been on similar journeys to theirs, but who are a few steps down the road. And our OIRs get mentored in board service from our partners.
Our OIR program is focused on operators who are still in the trenches of their field, rather than folks who have been out of the game for a few years. We target leaders in each operational function who have helped lead the best SaaS companies through their high growth journeys, which allows our founders to access the most relevant expertise available.
We are thrilled to welcome Gillian Heltai as Emergence’s first Operator in Residence. Gillian is the Chief Customer Officer at Lattice and brings 15 years of experience leading customer experience and sales teams at Comscore and Talkdesk. Throughout her career, Gillian has twice played a key role in scaling businesses between $10M and $100M ARR, with deep experience managing growth across customer segments (SMB, mid-market, enterprise) and buyer profiles (marketing, R&D, IT, sales, customer experience, and human resources).
Gillian is already working closely with Forma both as an advisor and a board observer, while also advising several other Emergence companies. “Gillian has been instrumental in helping many members on our leadership team grow and scale. The wisdom and experience she brings is an invaluable asset not only to our day-to-day execution but also in the board room. We are very lucky to be able to work with her,” said Jason Fan, CEO of Forma.
In addition to advising Forma, Gillian is also helping our portfolio and ecosystem more broadly. She recently helped host an event on how to manage customer success in an economic downturn, and co-authored a playbook with Jake Saper on the topic.
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