Monday Guest Elizabeth Blass – Y3-W2

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Get to know Elizabeth Blass

By: Mohammed Alqaq   |  January 08, 2024   |  Year 3  –  Week 02/2024

My name is Elizabeth Blass and I am a two time Chief Customer Officer with 15+ years of global leadership experience in the technology sector. Hailing from the Midwest, I was raised with a strong work ethic that has propelled me throughout my career.  I’m passionately committed to improving diversity in tech, actively mentoring women to elevate their voices and careers. I cherish the opportunity to travel, blending my desire to explore new places and meeting with customers around the globe. My educational journey is a source of pride—I hold a Master’s degree in Strategy, Management, and Leadership from Michigan State University.  


I’m a sports enthusiast and I especially love basketball. I’m a huge fan of the Iowa Hawkeyes, Chicago Bulls, and Golden State Warriors (based on where my husband and I have lived).

We asked Elizabeth to take us through a journey telling us about her career path, how she spends her workday, what advice she can share with someone starting as a customer success manager, and many other questions.

Enjoy reading this interview  

Table of Contents

Tell us about your career path? and How did you join Customer Success?

My professional path first took shape at MCI, where I started in an entry-level customer service role. (This is also where I met my husband!) I applied for a manager role only after my manager encouraged me to do so. I don’t think I ever would’ve considered this path otherwise. This early stage laid the foundation for my growth in customer-focused leadership.

I was able to work with talented managers and mentors who influenced my ability to understand customer needs and build effective teams. I quickly moved through the ranks, culminating in a regional Vice President position. I’m forever grateful that I was given the opportunity to manage large teams and multi-million dollar accounts at such a young age because people believed in me. I loved the responsibility.

My organization was responsible for managing and expanding customer relationships, in partnership with sales. This was my first experience with Customer Success (before it was called CS).

After my tenure at Verizon, I joined CME Group (a former customer of mine), where I contributed significantly to the launch of a new operating unit in the co-location space. My customers were high-frequency traders. This role gave me the opportunity to build an organization and all (internal and customer-facing) processes from scratch while working with an amazing group of people. It was a period where I deepened my understanding of technical account management and customer experience programs.

A pivotal moment came with my transition to TrustArc, where I embraced the challenge of helping to transform an early-stage SaaS business. I joined as the VP of Client Services, reporting to the CEO. I contributed to significant technological growth and funding achievements. This role was my first chance to build a Customer Success organization, along with many other functions.

My organization was 25 team members when I joined the company and 150 when I departed 9+ years later. I was promoted to Chief Customer Officer after recommending to my CEO that the company should have one and that it should be me. Fortunately, he agreed.

Throughout my career, I’ve maintained a focus on continuous learning, completing both my undergraduate and Master’s degrees while working full-time. This pursuit of knowledge has been parallel to my professional growth, reinforcing my belief in the power of education.

Now, at Karbon, I bring all of these experiences together. My role as Chief Customer Officer is not just a position, but a culmination of years of learning, leading, and innovating in the tech sector. Here, I aim to leverage my expertise with employee and customer engagement to drive Customer Success to new heights.

How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?

Forever curious, customer focused, action-oriented, collaborative, talent for driving outcomes, and organized. Everything else can be learned on the job!

What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?

Own your time and your calendar before everyone takes it over and you become reactive. Determine what you need to help your customers find value quickly and continuously; be relentless about setting boundaries to block distractions. If you are passive and say yes to everything, you will not be successful in your role. And it is much easier to set boundaries from the very beginning than to try to gain control later.


Own your time and your calendar before everyone takes it over and you become reactive

Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?

My day starts out with a run where I listen to one of my favorite podcasts.

I just started a new role on December 1st so I’m in the first 90 days swirl. For the foreseeable future, I’m learning everything I can from my team members, peers, customers, and my CEO. I’m doing a lot of listening, clarifying, and asking questions. So, in a nutshell, my day consists of LOTS of meetings, note-taking, and planning.

What makes you feel inspired or motivated?

People working together to accomplish a meaningful goal. The type of goal that moves the needle for customers, which in turn positively impacts the business. When people are working in unison like that it feels electric, energetic, and even fun.

What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?

That my positive attitude isn’t an act and is hard to dampen.

Who do you look up to the most? 

So many amazing thought leaders in the CS and GTM spaces. I’m in awe of the people in these communities every single day. They inspire me to learn more and to do better.

What are your top 3 priorities now?
  • Develop my top 10 priorities to make an immediate impact.

  • Build strong relationships within my new company and with our customers.

  • Find the balance between ramping up as quickly as possible in my new role and continuing to engage with and contribute to the communities I value.

What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
  • Learn everything you can about your customers – their challenges, their opportunities, and their worries. Why did they buy your product? What problem is it helping them to solve? The better you understand those things, the more strategic you can be in your relationship with them. In turn, this will help you progress in your role.

  • Think about your career in 5 year increments. Think about what you want to learn and what experiences you want to have. Have regular conversations with your manager about your career aspirations so they can help expose you to opportunities and provide coaching. Not all managers are created equal and even if you have a great one, you may want to seek out a mentor as well.

  • Identify areas in your organization that could be improved that will drive the business and volunteer to work on those things. Be the person who has a positive outlook and “does” rather than the person who always talks about doing. This may seem in conflict with my advice above about fiercely protecting your time and your calendar. However, if you manage your time well, you will have time for the initiatives that you are most passionate about.

  • Don’t just network when you are looking for a new job. Collaborate with people regularly via communities or mentoring or even on LinkedIn. Help other people. Research industries or companies that you may want to work for in your career and ask for introductions/meetings with people who work there.

What’s your favorite book, and why?

As an avid reader, this is an impossible question for me to answer!

One of my favorite fiction books is Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. It is pure magic.

One of my favorite business books from way back is 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John Maxwell (it is a little dated but much of it holds up well). This book was my guide as a new leader.

Another one that I read recently with the CS Office Hours Book Club is Wired to Resist by Britt Andreatta. It focuses on change management and how leaders can best plan and execute change for maximum effectiveness and minimal employee exhaustion.

» Check out the 10 Books a CSM should read to advance and improve their skills.

Have you had your “I’ve made it” moment yet?

I feel proud of what I’ve accomplished in my career. I’ve felt that way in achieving various milestones and when I’ve been able to make a positive impact in other people’s lives. But at the same time, I’m always striving to learn and experience more. I’ll never be “done”.

What should I have asked you but didn’t? 

What are my favorite podcasts that I listen to while running?

  • Smartless

  • Women in Customer Success

  • Revenue Today

  • Morning Brew Daily

  • Revenue Reimagined

Favorite Quote: “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” – Banksy

Where can people go to find out more about you?

The best place to find me is LinkedIn. I post there often.

I’ve been producing top 10 tip lists for the past several months to help the CS community with common challenges. Most recently I created a top 10 rom-com series. It all started with this one.

I had a lot of fun with that series!

Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing your knowledge and for the opportunity to know you more.

Do you have a Customer Success Leader, Expert, or Influencer you would like to know more about?