Building our Business Value: A Day in the Life of Jiong Liu
For most of us at Okta, it’s easy to put into words “why Okta”. Jiong Liu, Okta’s senior product marketing manager of business value, puts “why Okta” into numbers. Focusing on ROI and quantifiable results, Jiong tells the story of how Okta’s solutions lead to positive business outcomes for our customers.
We recently sat down with Jiong to discuss life at Okta, the importance of building collaboratively as part of a team and how a love of food inspires an annual international trip.
What do you do at Okta? Tell us about your role. I am building out Okta’s business value practice. As part of that, I focus on how Okta provides differentiated business value for our customers. Unlike other product marketing, business value is a discipline that cuts across all of Okta’s products. This means building C-level business cases using quantifiable metrics such as ROI, total cost of ownership and time-to-value for prospective customers and ensuring that our current customers are measuring and maximizing the ROI of their investment in Okta. The core goal of business value is to use a business perspective to explain “why Okta” in each customer’s unique environment. It also helps us to tell our customers’ stories with data.
Why Okta? What attracted you to the company? I’ve been at Okta for over 1.5 years. I actually started my career in finance and worked for 5.5 years as a financial advisor with a focus on preservation-- how to transfer wealth and minimize taxes. However, I realized my passion laid more in building rather than preserving. I grew up in Silicon Valley and my parents were both entrepreneurs; so focusing on business growth and creation started to feel like a natural choice. To transition, I obtained my MBA from Wharton to focus more on entrepreneurial management – which led to working at Okta. The focus on business growth and creating something impactful together as a team drew me in. Regardless of size and industry, Okta has unique value and measurable impact, something that inspired and spoke to my entrepreneurial passion.
Walk us through a typical day for you. One big draw of Okta is that there is no typical day – it never becomes repetitive and keeps me constantly challenged. Every morning varies, depending on what emails land in my inbox each day. The rest of the day is comprised of many moving parts: strategizing with our business value managers on how to deepen our customer engagements, scaling our tools and processes so we can extend our reach, researching and developing competitive content, and enabling our sales, customer success and marketing teams to talk about business value with both customers and prospects. I also work with each set of product owners to assess and articulate the business value of new features and products that we release.
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned at Okta? It’s important to work somewhere that challenges you and asks you to grow. Being at Okta has taught me about building a business through a shared vision and collaborative execution. It’s not just one group needed to make Okta run smoothly; it takes everyone to grow the company. Being able to interact and learn from people across skillsets is critical and helps you make hard decisions.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time? I love to travel and make a point to take at least one international trip a year. It’s hard to choose a favorite spot, but I love Spain and Peru. My love of travelling stems from a love of food, whether eating, or cooking. I strongly believe that through food, we begin to understand the history and culture of others. I also love to dance! I’ve been dancing my whole life and try to squeeze in a weekly modern or jazz dance class.
Tell us something people at Okta may not know about you. I used to play poker very seriously. Never professionally but I was definitely passionate about it.
If you could define Okta in one word, what would it be? Team. Everything we do here is centered around teamwork – not just your day-to-day team, but also working between teams – this creates the a strong community culture. Everyone has a role in multiple projects and helps build Okta in their own way.
Thanks, Jiong! If you’re interested in joining the team at Okta, check out our careers here.