Talent Spotlight: Helma Larkin’s Strategic Approach to Customer Success

Talent Spotlight: Helma Larkin’s Strategic Approach to Customer Success

Samantha Shankman

30 Mar 2022
4 minute read

Welcome to The Talent Spotlight Series, where we chat with our global team members about the careers that led them to Navan, what their roles look like, why they believe in their teams, and their favorite travel memory. The participants were selected by their peers for their incredible work and, team spirit, and how they embody Navan values. Read more from the series.

Helma Larkin joined Navan as the Vice President of Customer Success for EMEA and APAC in January 2022. Based in Dublin, Helma leads the customer success team, which specializes in creating great relationships with Navan clients.

“I like to tell my teams that we are here to delight our clients and ensure that they have the best experience possible with Navan and on the platform,” says Helma.

A Passion for Progress

Helma joins Navan from Google, where she led the travel account management team for the UK. There, she learned of the impact that technology has on the supply and delivery sides of the travel industry. She was eager to take her skills into the SaaS space, where she saw so many types of businesses and industries being challenged and improved. Plus, since she has been a road warrior for her entire professional career, the Navan product resonated with her on a personal level.

Helma started her career as a consultant in mergers and acquisitions before going in-house to help global advertising agency Dentsu acquire new agencies across North and South America. This also marked Helma’s first real foray into digital.

“I quickly got hooked on the digital consumer experience,” she explains.

Before fully moving to the digital side, however, Helma led offline ad agency Posterscrope as its CFO in New York; here, thanks to her strategic approach, she quickly became the CEO, leading the agency’s strategy and sales.

“We started to digitize the offline product and had a lot of success with programmatic advertising…and that’s what led me to Google,” says Helma, who moved back to Dublin from New York to join the digital revolution.

“Google has a huge presence in Dublin, as do many companies who headquarter here. I had a great time at Google for four years, but I always had my eye on the SaaS space, which is what led me to Navan,” she says.

While Helma has built an impressive career in customer-facing roles, she has not worked exclusively in customer success before, having trained and worked as a Chartered Accountant. That empowers her to bring in new perspectives and tools to improve how Navan approaches customer success moving forward.

“The most important thing is being able to align the goals of the customer and the goals of Navan, to ensure that you have a healthy balance of both,” says Helma. “I think customer success models that focus 100% on the customer can be successful, but it’s important to translate these models into what it means for the saas business itself. We must build meaningful partnerships with our clients. This is especially important because we have a consumption model at Navan, where our business depends on our clients successfully purchasing their travel through us.”

“I believe that it's our responsibility in customer success to ensure that our customers are delighted with the product and, therefore, that 100% of the bookings are completed through our platform. This approach will also drive our goals forward.”

The customer success team recently became part of the sales organization, so one of Helma’s first orders of business is ensuring that collaboration between the two teams is as seamless as possible. She wants to avoid any gaps between what is sold and what is ultimately possible, so our joint teams can provide the best possible experience for Navan clients.

A Culture of Excellence

Helma met many of her future team members throughout the Navan interview process, which solidified her interest in joining the company. Since starting, however, she’s discovered even more parts of the culture to love.

“The humbleness of the culture is apparent in the people. Folks want to do great work, but they’re not doing it to boast. They do it because good is good. Good is fun. Good is meaningful. People are also really generous with their time,” says Helma, who has been impressed by the effort put forth by each team member to help set their new colleagues up for success.

The Dublin office is growing quickly with the EMEA SDR, Customer Success, and Implementation teams all expanding there at the moment. As Helma hires and builds her team, she is looking for team members who are flexible, curious, and forward-looking.

“We’re building the plane as we fly it, so new hires need the flexibility to adapt to the amazing developments that the product team is producing. There should be a curiosity for organizational change and a desire to help deliver that change since so much of what Navan offers is a huge change for our customers.”

As Navan expands throughout Europe and APAC, the customer success teams based in Dublin, London, Amsterdam, Singapore, Sydney and India will play an integral role in planting the seeds for long-term success with new clients. Helma is currently building her team from scratch and looking to bring on team members who want to help businesses transform their travel, expense, and spend strategies with an eye toward the future.

The Dublin office is currently hiring. See what roles are available to join Navan today.

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