Making Customers Wildly Successful: A Day in the Life of Eric Knittel
Standing still does not seem to be an option for employees at Okta, who are constantly pushing themselves to help their customers. In our latest Day in the Life installment, we spoke with Eric Knittel, director of professional services at Okta, to learn more about how he helps Okta drive customer success on a daily basis. Eric may not physically travel far for his work — his commute is about 10 feet — but he’s excited to keep moving with Okta.
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Eric Knittel, director of professional services at Okta
What is your current position at Okta?
I am a director of professional services currently covering the eastern U.S. and Europe. My job is to make sure our customers are wildly successful with our service.
How do you make sure customers are wildly successful?
I think it comes down to listening to your customer. I need to take the time to not only understand how to deliver an Okta solution for a customer; I need to understand how to deliver a solution that meets the customer’s needs today and in the future.
Has anything surprised you so far?
Our customers are often stretching the boundaries of what our service offers. It is really great to see the excitement they bring. Part of my job is to take these unusual or “new to Okta” use cases and work with our product and engineering teams to turn that great idea into a new feature.
Why Okta? What first attracted you to Okta?
I have been working in the IAM space for about 13 years. Much of this time was spent delivering IAM solutions from legacy vendors like Sun and Oracle. Throughout those years, I often talked with colleagues and customers about how there had to be an easier way to manage identities and provide access to resources. A little over a year ago, a friend at Okta sent me a link to the Okta website. I was amazed that within a couple hours I had a trial instance set up and had integrated with Salesforce.com and Google Apps. Okta solves such a complicated problem in such a simple way.
What's the best part of working at Okta?
Being a part of the awesome transformation we are making in this industry. Okta is not just another IAM vendor where I am doing the same old things the same old way. I could do that somewhere else and probably not work as hard. We are building something great, and it is really cool to be a part of it.
What's the first thing you do when you get to the office?
I work from my home office, so after my ten-foot commute, I sit down and dig into email. We are a 24/7 operation, so I jump in to see what I have missed overnight.
What stands out about Okta compared to other companies/start-ups you've worked at?
First, the people: Okta has attracted a team of extremely motivated and talented people that never cease to impress me.
Next would have to be the culture. Okta is the first start-up I have worked for, so I was not really sure what to expect. At Okta, there is a culture that fosters collaboration and teamwork that other companies I have worked for only talked about. It is not something you can force on people; you need to make sure you are hiring people that fit the culture, and Okta has done that very well.
It is also the first company I have worked for that has trusted employees with unlimited PTO :).
What is most rewarding about your role?
Watching so many customers become successful with our service every month is just awesome. In the legacy world that I came from, these projects would take months or years, and often success was murky at best. It is great to look back month after month and know you had a hand in the success of so many customers.
Additionally, working in such a high-energy, fast-paced environment keeps things fresh. Okta is certainly not standing still: we’re keeping up and our customers’ increasing use cases force us all to keep learning.
What is your favorite memory from working at Okta?
Working remotely, I do not get to see a lot of my colleagues regularly, but some of my favorite memories from working at Okta are from the quarterly events we have where we bring the teams together. At Okta we work hard, but we make room for fun, too!
If you could define Okta in one word, what would it be?
Exciting – the 14 months I have been here so far have been incredible, but I can't wait to see what the next 14 months bring!