Data Rockstar: Taking Salesforce’s Tableau Product to the C-Suite
Sales leader, Sarah Keren, is helping businesses see and understand data with the power of Tableau.
Not all data rockstars crunch numbers. Sarah Keren, an AVP of Sales at Salesforce who works on the visual analytics platform Tableau, is helping businesses unleash unlimited transformation. How’s that for a data rockstar?
“It’s exciting to work on Tableau because I can say things like ‘I helped a major bank process $6 billion in loans in 10 days,’ which is more than they’ve ever done in a year,” Sarah shares. “That’s huge! That’s when the Payment Protection Program launched during the COVID-19 pandemic, so all those loans helped support small businesses that needed money to stay open. That’s real business value.”
Since joining Tableau, Sarah has had no shortage of remarkable experiences like this. Advancing through four leadership roles, a major acquisition by Salesforce, and countless more customer success stories, she’s just getting warmed up.
Currently, Sarah is an Area Vice President for Financial Services, a job she describes as fun and invigorating. “I run North America enterprise and commercial sales. I lead seven first- and second-line leaders across nearly 60 account executives and a few hundred cross-functional team members that work to ensure our financial services customers are successful.”
The sales pitch for a career in tech sales
A former journalism major, Sarah traded in pitching stories for pitching sales deals. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in international business and marketing, she entered a sales training program with a large tech company. “I launched into a very intensive program with about 100 other assertive, ambitious young people straight out of college where they taught us sales and technology skills.”
A former journalism major, Sarah traded in pitching stories for pitching sales deals.
At the end of the 1-year bootcamp, Sarah was sold. “Sales felt open-ended. It felt like a journey focused on problem-solving in a less analytical way than engineering. It was about connecting with people, understanding their challenges, and working with others to provide solutions to help them. It almost felt like I was a therapist of sorts — listening to problems and helping people solve them — but I didn’t have to go to medical school for it,” she jokes.
Sarah applied for the coveted financial services position in New York that all the program graduates were after and secured her first role as an associate sales representative within the company. “Since that moment, I’ve spent over 15 years in technology sales for financial services. The last four being at Tableau and now at Salesforce.”
Joining the band of data rockstars
With over a decade of success under her belt, Sarah got a call from a former leader with an opportunity she couldn’t refuse. The former manager now worked at Tableau and insisted Sarah join the band, too.
“The things he sold me on were 100% true from day one of joining the company. He said, ‘Sarah, you’re never going to find customers who love our product more than at Tableau.’ I’ve definitely seen that firsthand. Customers love our product and it truly impacts their lives in a positive way.”
Tableau is the world’s leading analytics platform, making data analysis fast, easy, and beautiful. Its impact speaks for itself. “There have been more than a handful of times where a customer has literally cried, on the phone or in-person, because we made their life easier,” Sarah says. And when Tableau joined Salesforce, the volume turned up a notch.
Singing a new tune with Salesforce
Sarah describes the Tableau team as having the youthful energy of a startup while still being established in the industry.
“When I joined the Tableau team, it surprised me how fast business can run when you have people who are really energized and excited about what they do every day. It’s gritty and innovative, and people are passionate about our product, customers, and getting stuff done. Since being acquired by Salesforce, we’ve gained even more industry recognition, powerful innovation, and that excitement for business transformation that only Salesforce has to offer.”
“When I joined the Tableau team, it surprised me how fast business can run when you have people who are really energized and excited about what they do every day.” – Sarah Keren
Powered by Salesforce, Tableau is on the path to bigger arenas. “Now, we’re not just talking to, say, a second- or third-line leader within a company. We’re really talking to the C-suite about how analytics can help drive their business outcomes. We’re able to make more impact with our customers as a part of Salesforce.”
Showing up authentically at work
After 15 years of growth and advancement, Sarah looks back on one of the most defining lessons she learned early in her career: bringing your authentic self to work.
She reflects on a time prior to Salesforce when she was the only woman in the room. “During that time, I always wore a collared shirt and pants suit because all the men I worked with did. But it was more than just the way I was dressing. It was the way I was acting and trying to speak,” she confesses. “I was trying to mold myself to be more like the people around me as opposed to being authentic.”
It was after she embraced authenticity that her career accelerated. “All I can say is, when I flipped that switch and started having more confidence in my own capabilities because of the outcomes I was driving, that is when my career really took off. So my biggest advice to women is just to be yourself. Lean into the fact that you’re different and that’s a good thing.”
Sarah also credits her career growth to the remarkable sponsors she built relationships with along the way. “Those sponsors are the people who raise their hand and advocate for me when I’m not in the room, speaking to my strengths and accomplishments.” Years later, it would be one of those very sponsors who introduced her to Tableau.
Growing a career while growing a family
With Salesforce, Sarah has enjoyed a bigger scope and a bigger family. Having recently given birth to her third child, she raves about Salesforce’s support of employees through parental leave benefits.
“In my previous company, I didn’t have this kind of time offered to me for my first two kids. To have 6 months off paid — I’m so excited! And that’s just one of many benefits.” Sarah goes on to share her enthusiasm for other Salesforce benefits like wellness incentives and volunteer time off. “These benefits are pretty amazing and unique to Salesforce.”