by Brian Nordli
December 12, 2018

Four years ago, FourKites set out to help freight shippers answer the question of “Where’s my truck?” in real time. Since answering that question, FourKites has grown from five employees to more than 280 and now tracks shipments of all kinds of transportation around the globe.

To achieve its level of success, the supply chain visibility SaaS company has partnered closely with its customers through forums and advisory board meetings to shape and scale its offerings as FourKites continues to grow. 

We spoke with four leaders about how they’re solving customer needs and empowering their teams in the process.

 

FourKites office
Photography By Allison Williams
FourKites Kitchen
PHotography by Allison Williams
FourKites front desk
Photography By Allison Williams

 

FOUNDED: 2014

EMPLOYEES: 280 (111 local)

WHAT THEY DO: FourKites’ platform helps shippers and third-party logistics companies track their freight around the globe using predictive analytics and GPS-connected devices.

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

GET INVOLVED: Employees can join the FourKites women network, which hosts monthly meetings and promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace through speakers and events.

 

Stephanie At work

Stephanie Portrait

 

Stephanie Kolaczynski, Chief Operating Officer

Stephanie puts the customer success, product support and carrier operations teams in a position where they can thrive. Her focus is on recruiting and training the right candidates and providing management with the infrastructure to succeed.

 

We understand you were one of the first employees at FourKites. How has the company evolved from when you first started?

When I joined FourKites, we were a five-person team and had just signed our first customer. Now, we have nearly 300 people and over 100 large enterprise customers. We’ve built and scaled teams, added leaders, built new products and continuously invested in adding value for our customers.

A lot has changed, but many things have remained the same, including our transparency. We share board-level discussions at our all-hands meetings and have company-wide objectives and key results so that we are all aligned. We move people between teams and roles to encourage idea sharing, and we remain committed to giving our team the support and opportunities to grow.

 

Where do you see FourKites in one year?

We are growing internationally and establishing an in-region presence to support our global customers, while also expanding our product to address new stakeholders. Our customer base has also grown, and our product is now adding value beyond the software. Customers are sharing data across their organizations, thereby achieving transparency throughout their supply chains with the assistance of FourKites. We held our first user conference this year, and the quality of discussion and idea sharing was phenomenal.

 

I pay close attention to adding process without bureaucracy, and balancing management oversight while maintaining autonomy.” 

 

How have you helped position the company to scale?

I pay close attention to adding process without bureaucracy, and balancing management oversight while maintaining autonomy. It’s important to invest in our future leaders and give them opportunities to learn and grow, while also recognizing when bringing in an outside hire is the right move.

 

Rebecca at work

Rebeccca Portrait

 

Rebecca Scully, VP of Finance

Rebecca and her team manage all accounting and financial matters for FourKites. Her responsibilities range from financial planning to record keeping and financial reporting — the reports that guide the company as it grows.

BEYOND WORK: While Rebecca’s career is in finance, her passion for cooking is no mere appetizer. She holds a degree from Le Cordon Bleu – which she earned while working full time – and works as a private chef dishing up delectable plates on the side.

 

What is the biggest challenge your team is currently solving?

The biggest challenge is the rapid growth of the company and its impact on additional volume and new requirements. This is why we are focused on ensuring we are scaling appropriately. We are constantly looking into automating processes, different ways of doing things and leveraging existing resources to continue building a solid financial foundation.

 

How do you ensure FourKites continues to grow at a scalable rate? What challenges does that present?

My goal is to create stability in an environment of changes and growth. Focusing on automation, efficiency and standardization will allow FourKites to continue that growth while allowing us to maintain control and compliance requirements. My team is working with sales to develop new ways of structuring a contract to maximize revenue, as well as partnering with the operations team to provide metrics that will help decision making. I want the finance team to be embedded within the organization and not just seen as a compliance function.

 

I want the finance team to be embedded within the organization and not just seen as a compliance function.”

 

How do you facilitate career growth on your team?

I focus on career growth from the first interview onward. I’m dedicated to career development and talk to my team about it frequently. I make it clear to them that I’m available to help them advance in their careers, wherever that may lead them. It creates an honest dialog around career development and prevents people from feeling uncomfortable about sharing their goals.

It’s a crucial aspect of my role as a leader. Employees who feel fulfilled and free to find the best fit become the most dedicated and loyal team members. It boosts morale and promotes well-aligned roles with team members who are excited about the company and committed to its success.

 

Priya at work

Priya portrait

 

Priya Rajagopalan, Chief Product Officer

Priya oversees the product and user experience teams, helping them deliver a simple and intelligent enterprise platform to shippers around the world.

BEYOND WORK: Don’t underestimate Priya on the Ping-Pong table. She used to play competitively as a child and, while she doesn’t play as often now, she can still hold her own in a match.   

 

What attracted you to FourKites?

My background is in building enterprise software products. It’s not often that you have the opportunity to work on projects that can help transform an $800 billion industry. That’s what most excites me about this industry and the role that FourKites plays in it.

 

It’s not often that you have the opportunity to work on projects that can help transform an $800 billion industry.”

 

Tell us about a major pivot you’ve helped lead since joining FourKites. What did it take to accomplish it?

FourKites started with tracking freight over the road, answering the important question of, “Where’s my truck?” in real time. We have now extended to tracking other modes like train, less-than-truckload, parcel and boat. We’ve also developed predictive analytics. One of our key value propositions is in accurately predicting outcomes — like which loads will be impacted by a forest fire in California — and providing actionable insights.  

 

How does your team prioritize the ideas you should build?

We take a multifaceted approach to collecting customer input and using that to prioritize ideas. These range from customer advisory board meetings to working with our customer success team every day. We held our annual user conference with over 100 customers attending, which was a fantastic forum to get input on new ideas.

 

Kathleen at work

Kathleen portrait

 

Kathleen Marcell, VP of Customer Success

Kathleen drives customer adoption and engagement with FourKites platform, ensuring they gain value from the product. Her team partners with customers to create custom success plans and measurables to ensure FourKites’ product meets their needs.

BEYOND WORK: Kathleen plays the bagpipe in Chicago’s premier bagpipe band, the Shannon Rovers. The band plays for any kind of event, from weddings to corporate parties, but they might best be known for their St. Patrick’s Day performances.

 

How has your team grown from when you first started?

When I joined the team two years ago, I created two separate teams for implementation and customer success. My role has since evolved to focus solely on customer success, which has become much more proactive and strategic as we grow. With the vast suite of internal tools and analytics we have today, the team is able to identify high-impact areas and understand how the customer is adopting the tool.

 

What’s the biggest challenge your team currently faces?

Keeping up with all of the new product features we are releasing. We want to make sure our team and our customers are well-trained on every new feature, but with releases every two weeks, this becomes a challenge. To overcome this, we’ve invested in internal operations trainers, a learning management system and new roles on the product team to quickly and efficiently educate the team on product enhancements and changes.

 

With the vast suite of internal tools and analytics we have today, the team is able to identify high-impact areas and understand how the customer is adopting the tool.” 

 

How do you ensure customers have a smooth experience?  

We partner with the implementation team early to ensure we have processes in place to gather this information as early as possible, even during the sales cycle. As customers complete implementation, we transition them to customer success and educate them on the various roles that will support their account and ensure they are successful on our platform. In doing so, we’re able to develop relationships at different levels with the customer and keep a good pulse on the relationship and where we need to focus.

 

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