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Blogs April 3, 2024

Meet Our New COO, Tanya Earles

Meet Our New COO Tanya Earles - Lightning Step

We sat down with Tanya Earles, Lightning Step's new Chief Operating Officer, to learn more about what attracted her to join us and her vision for leading operations. Read on for Tanya's perspectives on our company mission, approach to customer success, and focus on innovation.

What excited you about the opportunity to join Lightning Step as COO, and what appealed to you about Lightning Step's company and mission?  

About 12 years ago, I pivoted my career toward improving healthcare and wanted to make a difference. The opportunities in healthcare, especially Health Tech, are vast and limitless. 

Over the past few years, Mental Health has become even more critical. A day doesn't go by that you don't hear about issues on the news driven by MH or drug addiction, which I know has impacted so many people's lives. Mental Health touches all of our lives in one way or another. I have personally had family members affected by addiction. My father passed away nine years ago from cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcohol abuse.  

While I had a personal connection to Lightning Step's mission and purpose, I was sold as soon as I met the founder, CEO, and team! This company is doing amazing things, and I am honored to be part of that.   

You have extensive experience leading customer success, operations, and implementations. How will you leverage that background as our new COO?  

My initial focus will be to intimately get to know our customers and understand their needs to succeed. Every company is different based on where they are, their customer segment, and where they are going. I have had many accomplishments and mistakes, which will help me support and lead our company in the right direction. 

I have worked for large, publicly traded companies and recently helped grow a medical health SaaS company from $79M ARR to $200M. I understand what's possible, where we need to be, and, most importantly, how to get there. Scaling profitability while ensuring high customer satisfaction and loyalty is the most important goal, and I am confident that we are well on our way to setting new company records.  

As COO of a high-growth healthcare technology company like Lightning Step, what are the most significant opportunities and challenges, and how do you plan to scale the business?  

Our most significant opportunity is to bring our functional teams across the business together to create an integrated, seamless customer experience and prepare our company for scale. I always say, "Siloed functions create a fragmented customer experience."  

Our first opportunity is to look at our customer journey framework collectively. We need to understand our customer lifecycle and make it easy to do business with us. We need to ensure we are solving pain points and supporting them impactfully. We must remove friction and streamline our people, processes, and technology. Lastly, we are already working on advancing our product and launching new technology to modernize our platform and automate workflows for our customers. 

These advancements will also help create an intuitive experience that will simplify the complex. Our operations team will consistently put ourselves in our customer's shoes and work hard on their behalf to support their needs so they can provide better care. As we work to do all of this, we will scale our business in a way that makes sense and put our resources where our customers need them the most.  

How have your past experiences prepared you to drive operational strategy and excellence?  

The last 24 years of my career have been incredible. I have had the opportunity to work for great companies, great leaders, outstanding mentors, and with some fantastic people. A few things have remained consistent in my career and my roles. First, every role allowed me to understand things from a customer's point of view and work to drive operational excellence with them at the forefront. 

Working for large publicly traded companies showed me how to be a financial steward as we drive operational outcomes with high customer satisfaction. Then, going to a privately held company focused on high growth taught me how to scale profitably with high customer satisfaction. All of these are great lessons.  

Secondly, all of my roles were operations-centric. I have had the fantastic opportunity to own all kinds of operations, from call centers to the back office, to onboarding, to account management, customer experience, etc. I have led teams of 20 people up to 2,000 people. In every instance, I have found that success depends on building high-performing teams of empowered thought leaders who can execute with rigor and discipline. 

Driving operational strategy comes down to understanding your customer and employee experience and the interdependencies between the two. Deciding how you will get there can be more manageable once you identify where you are now and where you want to go. The tricky part is executing your vision and pivoting where needed to achieve the overall objective. 

What excites you about leading operations for a company that serves behavioral health providers and patients? 

As mentioned earlier, addiction and recovery are very personal for me. I have had friends and family members all impacted. As I have also gotten to know our employees, so many of them are in recovery themselves, which brings a whole other purpose-filled mission with it. I have always been a servant leader for my employees; they have always been my sense of purpose. When I add their trials and tribulations and purpose-driven selves, I have a stronger, more meaningful connection of why I am here and what we set out to do.  

How would you describe your leadership approach to managing a fast-paced, complex business like ours? What is your philosophy?  

All the companies I have worked with had a fast-paced environment and level of complexity. In general, here is my philosophy: 

1) Get to know your customers and what they need to be successful

2) get to know your employees and what they need to be successful

3) understand your shareholders where they want to go and their expectations along the way

4) Create a plan where everybody wins and execute with discipline and rigor, pivoting when and where you need it! 

I simplified that a bit, but it is that simple. The hard part is filtering out the noise. There is always so much noise mixed in, and staying focused on the core objective is critical.  

What are some ways you hope to drive innovation operationally, and what emerging technologies or process improvements excite you?  

I am still in the early days, but I see many opportunities to streamline our onboarding process, develop our customer success and account management strategy, and tighten our support delivery. I am excited to launch Lightning Step University for customer education and a Customer Community to help connect them to drive best practices and leverage the collective for success. 

Within all of that, there is a lot of process and technological innovation. My partnership with the product teams will be critical to success as we look to remove friction, create more self-service functionality, and incorporate AI in many different ways. We also have an opportunity to re-create our CRM to support the entire business holistically and get to a single 360-degree view of the customer. With a robust CRM and integrated product, we can automate and simplify customer and employee workflows, working to strengthen our customer relationships.  

Tanya's impressive experience and dedication to customer success make her the perfect fit as our new COO. Under her leadership, Lightning Step will continue elevating support for providers so they can focus on delivering exceptional evidence-based care. We look forward to achieving new heights as Tanya helps scale our operations and product innovation in this next growth chapter.



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