Today, David Wren, VP of Revenue Operations at Flex, talks with host Islin Munisteri about our purposes as revenue operations professionals, and how we create the right structure for growth. We talk about being strategic and not being sucked into the "tactical vortex." He recommends continuing to be curious.
David Wren graduated from Texas Christian University in 2009 with a degree in Finance, Real Estate, and Marketing. He has worked in the real estate industry for 13 years, including roles in sales operations and sales enablement, from manager to director. He is now VP of Revenue Operations at Flex.
Connect with our guest, David Wren, on LinkedIn.
[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Hi, this is Islin Munisteri and I run the Rev Ops Careers podcast sponsored by Theia Strategies. I'm excited to have David Brennan on the call. I'm doing pretty good, happy Monday.
[00:00:37] Happy Monday. Yay. So David graduated from Texas Christian University in 2009, with a degree in finance, real estate and marketing.
[00:00:46] He has worked in the real estate industry for 13 years, including roles in sales, operations, sales enablement from manager to director, he is now VP of revenue operations at flex. Glad to have you on the show,
[00:01:01] David Wren: We're glad be here. I'm super excited to chat a little bit about rev ops with yet nothing more fun than listening to podcasts and learning from others.
[00:01:10] So hopefully I have a few things to share with listeners.
[00:01:16] Islin Munisteri: I guess to get started. How did you start your career and rev ops journey?
[00:01:23] David Wren: What's funny. Hey, everyone has a a very unique journey and how they landed in this world. Mine's probably similar to some myself, I've been in kind of real estate sector.
[00:01:34] Like you said, my whole career, I was at a somebody called a Real Page which is a software company property management software company for real estate owners, managers, and busters. And I was in a post-sales project management consultant role. So my role. For few years, my first few years there was a deal was sold.
[00:01:58] They would be assigned to me. I would travel a lot and do system configuration and process definement and documentation with customers around how they ultimately wanted to customize and use the solutions that they purchased. They were very customizable tools that could be modified to meet the company's business model.
[00:02:22] So it was really fun. I traveled a lot. I learned a lot of technical skills project, man. Type things and really honed my consultative mindset. Both strategically and tactically. And at the time the company was publicly traded and was growing the sales team. And there was no, this was probably 2013 or so the whole sales ops rev ops world was new to the.
[00:02:49] And one of my really good friends was tasked with building the sales, operations function real page. When he came to me and was like, Hey, I need, we need a partner in crime. Let's here's what we're trying to do. Our customers are the the sales function, right? It's our job to build out our processes and procedures to help scale and grow.
[00:03:11] Why was I was apprehensive maybe a little bit at first because I didn't enjoy the client exposure and meeting the customers and that the travel was a lot, it was like Monday to Thursday traveling most, every week. So I was getting a little burn from that. And it sounded like a really exciting thing for me at the time.
[00:03:30] It was still young and not married yet and no kids and hey it sounded like a a cool opportunity to be in the forefront of something new, to, in a really fast run business. So I took, I, I took her up on the opportunity and that's how I got my foot in the door and started my journey at the time in sales ops.
[00:03:48] And. Have now evolved all the way to of the full rev ops function where I'm at today. So it's been fun. I've learned a lot and I think it encapsulates a lot of the skills that I've developed over my career and, through my education and it's been fun. Yeah. So I. I learned a lot and there it is a new challenge as in this space.
[00:04:10] And it's been a, it's been a blessing.
[00:04:14] Islin Munisteri: Yeah. I really think working in rev ops has been a blessing like marrying, like processes and systems and people together. What was your biggest learning experience?
[00:04:25] David Wren: Coming in, I came in to an environment where neither one of us near her had ever done it before.
[00:04:31] A lot of learning, right? Lots of reading and lots of meeting with other folks in the space, in different industries. And it's fair now, frankly, like what. Sales ops. And what is rev ops? What is our purpose and our mission and making sure it was aligned with the goals and initiatives that the company wasn't the biggest thing early on was just like how to create the right structure, right?
[00:04:58] Because as I've learned over, listening to these types of podcasts and being dialed into the. And there's lots of ways you can do it. So we were pretty experimental over the course of our time learning what works and what doesn't work and where we can really drive impact and not just be a a tactical execution arm of the business being a really strategic thought leaders.
[00:05:22] So I'd say that's the biggest thing probably is like through the experiment, through the learning, through the relationship. That we built at at RealPage was like, how could it be both strategic and practical at the same time, you would really be a value driver for the business.
[00:05:40] Islin Munisteri: So when you say both strategic and tactical at the same time what do you mean?
[00:05:44] Like you need to be able to. I guess implement what you strategize on
[00:05:49] David Wren: or, yeah. So you need to like, I, I think early on we were probably too tactical was like, Hey, from me this report, create this dashboard. Do this project. And through that learning, we learn it's important for us to be dialed into the objectives and the strategy of the business, right?
[00:06:04] Like what are we really trying to accomplish? What are the goals and initiatives that the company wants to achieve and then helping con consult and advise on the best ways for us to get to those set objectives in the most efficient and effective. So you have to have the ability to, you have to be able to think, and if you're not thinking, and you're just doing then you're probably not far enough along in your career yet, but that, I think that's been the fun for me as you get to jump up and down help consult on the, go to market strategy while also, diving into processing definement and, reporting and I'll, anything enablement to help drive the business forward. So it's fun. You gotta I've learned a lot, but that's what I mean there doesn't.
[00:06:54] Islin Munisteri: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And what, I guess what's the hardest thing you've done.
[00:06:59] In this entire, your entire journey.
[00:07:02] David Wren: Oh man. I'd say like the most challenging. So my time at Real Page they were publicly traded. So they're pretty well-established company and we were inserting ourselves into the picture and. Had a lot of really great support and built the team from two all the way up to, I think when I left, we were, 25 or so in the department.
[00:07:23] And then I went to a company called Valet Living where they were much earlier in their evolution and scaling and hiring a team. So that was building. Building from scratch and actually be earlier on, in the evolution of a company. So that was challenging. Learned a lot about how you this is like a tired analogy, but like how to change the tires at a million miles an hour.
[00:07:49] That's really that much. I think I've done is probably where I'm at now. I'm here at Flex my last company was very high growth. We, I think we tripled in revenue in the four years I was there, but flex when I started was about 50 people. And this is since August of 2021, so seven, almost eight months ago.
[00:08:14] And we're already at over 200 people. So our growth and our pace is very fast. So I've just had to learn how to prioritize and really determine what is the most important use of the mind and my team's time. And it's been extremely rewarding but certainly challenging at times.
[00:08:37] Islin Munisteri: Wow. I guess when you're on a high growth company that really is the, like the hardest thing is to wrangle all the people and processes.
[00:08:48] David Wren: You got to support the now while also building for the tomorrow. And it's a, it's an, it's a constant prioritization and reprioritization and capacity planning exercise.
[00:09:01] In determining, where and how to spend your time and where, and how to deploy, your resources, time to derive the right impact. Because the last thing you want to do is inhibit growth. You want to accelerate it so you have to find ways to do that which certainly can present, challenges, but also great opportunity at the same time.
[00:09:23] Islin Munisteri: That's awesome. And I guess what do you have a single source of truth in your tech stack?
[00:09:29] David Wren: Yes, we use HubSpot as our CRM tool. So that's, it's been a journey since I've been here. It existed before I came. So we've been Kind of redefining how we utilize our CRM and rebuilding some of the processes that exist there.
[00:09:46] Another sales source of truth through our partner success, what we call partner sits as our post-sales source of truth. I've always been in my career. I've been a Salesforce power user at prior Ord, so it was a little bit of adjustment moving to HubSpot, but it's been a really enjoyed.
[00:10:05] Islin Munisteri: That's great.
[00:10:06] And I guess moving would you what's easier to use in your opinion, HubSpot or Salesforce or do they have like their strengths and different? Yeah, there,
[00:10:14] David Wren: There's, I think I probably had a negative connotation or a thought about how spot that was on my. My con list. When I was evaluating this opportunity, I was like, Ugh, I spent so much time share.
[00:10:28] And years learning Salesforce that I just didn't really want to have to learn a new system but frankly it's slick, right? It's really user-friendly from a rep perspective from a user perspective it's got the sequences and. Marketing capabilities and Scott really easy administrative abilities to customize and create workflows and things of that nature that I've really enjoyed.
[00:10:55] They're really the only thing that I feel like HubSpot's a little bit behind on, on Salesforce is just the reporting side. It's not quite as robust. It gets you most of what you need. But some of the advanced type things there isn't quite where Salesforce is yet, but we've been able to utilize some other systems like Tableau.
[00:11:21] BI tools to get us what we need, which has been fine.
[00:11:25] Islin Munisteri: Yeah. I find that you need to layer some sort of BI tool on top of HubSpot or Salesforce to really get the best reporting you
[00:11:34] David Wren: can. Absolutely. Yeah, you gotta have it. But, given more, whereas it's plenty fine for now. What does the future look like?
[00:11:43] We'll see. We'll see always evaluating, but I think for now, SWAT is more than sufficient for Flex's needs.
[00:11:54] Islin Munisteri: That's great. And I guess this is more of a deeper philosophical question, but if you died tomorrow, what do you hope people would say about you and how you impacted them? Oh,
[00:12:06] David Wren: good one.
[00:12:06] Coming with the heavy-hitters Islin. I think for me, the biggest thing is I hope people would remember how much I cared. That's I, I've worked in some areas where maybe rev ops or sales ops does in its own little silo and has our own that own kind of core metrics and KPIs and okay.
[00:12:27] Ours that we focus on. But my strategy as a leader has been. To ultimately ride sidecar with our teams that we support right there. Success is my success. And with that approach comes just making sure that I have a great rapport and understanding of the business that I'm supporting and the people that I'm supporting.
[00:12:49] And that I care about giving them all the resources that they need to be successful. That's, each day is a new challenge. Each project is a new opportunity. But all I would want people to remember is that. Yeah, I really cared about their success and that we did everything in our power to give them what they need to reach their personal and professional goals.
[00:13:15] Islin Munisteri: How that's satisfying, man. It's yeah, it did. It did my best to get help you get
[00:13:19] David Wren: there. That's it. That's it. It's the name of the game.
[00:13:25] Islin Munisteri: And w what's your philosophy on how on rev ops and how different, I guess teams should interact?
[00:13:31] David Wren: Yeah, I see us as the blue. We want, you want functions to be hyper-focused on what their roles and responsibilities are, and it's our job to be able to see, cross function, how every process and every action impacts the business.
[00:13:51] So I, I see that communication obviously is the most important. Communication from me to the functional areas, to the key stakeholders and leaders of the teams we support. But also like communication amongst themselves. Because obviously I can't be on every single conversation between every single department.
[00:14:11] Every single interaction. know, I tried to provide clear and concise, reporting and visibility to the functions of the business on how they're performing against their objectives. And being able to help support them in both strategic planning and tactical execution to deliver upon those goals.
[00:14:33] Facilitating, cross-functional conversation when you know, when's, when it's needed.
[00:14:40] Islin Munisteri: Yeah, I agree. Yeah. Having that communication, you can't be in every conversation, but at least like your leadership scheme visibility into what the rev ops teams are doing, and what's the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self.
[00:15:04] David Wren: I just think just continue to be curious. Cause I think I read something the other day that like rev ops job titles on LinkedIn or have something like 200% in the last year and a half. So there's a lot of people doing this function. Ways and has different stocks and best practices.
[00:15:24] So just like dial into the scene, right? Join the rev ops, co-op different functions, pavilion those types of resources to lean on other people that are maybe doing something that you can learn from stay curious. I think that's probably the biggest thing. This, maybe this second, you didn't ask me to go.
[00:15:44] I'm going to give you two. The second thing that I've learned, probably through a failure on my part from my career is you can't be everything to everyone. And it's okay. You have to be a really good communicator with your leader and prioritize your efforts. And communicate your efforts more effectively, or they get talking about maybe burned my candle at both ends and trying to do everything for everyone.
[00:16:10] And it's been challenging. And at times it brings you into this like tactical vortex of just doing projects, instead of taking some time to think and prioritize. So I think I've learned that maybe the hard way in that, but I would definitely tell myself that make clear objectives, be really thoughtful in your prioritization and, do everything you can, but you can't do everything for everyone.
[00:16:39] Islin Munisteri: I agreed there. Yeah. I feel like I'm learning that as part of the agency, like you cannot be, you cannot do everything like. The step away at times and it is there. Is there anything we haven't covered?
[00:16:55] David Wren: I think one of the things about this function, then the impact it's had for me, I like, I was, I want people to be advocates for what we're doing. I love see. No, all of the LinkedIn noise and posts about rev ops. I love seeing these co-ops and different groups pop up to, to share.
[00:17:20] Best practices and to learn from each other advocate for what we're doing. Cause I don't, I still don't get the sense that everyone has fully understood and adopted a rev ops, a true rev ops function. The way it really, I believe should be done. So be an advocate, and being an advocate for what we're doing.
[00:17:41] And I think that'll only help those in our space in our industry. Continue to bring impact across any business. I
[00:17:49] Islin Munisteri: agree. Yeah. Being an advocate is I think pretty important to to get more people to join rev ops and dev ops. Is that actually a career path now?
[00:18:00] David Wren: No doubt. No doubt. Is there anything that you've got for me?
[00:18:04] Islin Munisteri: I don't think so. We could we talk a little bit about Flex? Of course.
[00:18:11] David Wren: Yeah. Like we've said my time and my career has been in the real estate space and flex Lux is go to market is in the real estate space as well. We're a series C funding. Company based in New York city.
[00:18:25] I'm actually in Dallas, Texas, but I headquartered in New York. And we are a flexible payment solution for for renters in in today's world is for those that are as dialed in as me right. Rents across the country are sky high. Right rent renter increasing now 12, 15, 20%, 30% in some markets while income and salaries are not certainly not growing at that same pace.
[00:18:57] Flex's mission is pretty simple, right? We want to give renters more financial flexibility and ultimately the peace of mind. That comes with that. So our solution is we sell to property management companies, property management owners, and investors to offer flex as a solution for their renters where renters can sign up.
[00:19:20] And we will, we run through a little quick credit check and and then if they are approved, then. We will pay their rent for them on the first of the month on time. And they can pay us back on a schedule that they set with us. That's more flexible with their the way their income works.
[00:19:39] We see a, really, a big misalignment between the way how people are paid and when ultimately most people's largest. Expense on a monthly basis is still due on the first. And people are struggling right. There is a, there's a affordable housing crisis in this country. And we want to be a solution to help people that that really need the help to ensure they don't incur late fees.
[00:20:07] And then they can pay us back on a schedule that more aligns with. But what they're looking for with their finances. So it's been a really fun journey. A skyrocket pace. Like I said, 50 people in the company when I started were already over 200 in the matter of eight months.
[00:20:23] And I think we'll probably get to, three 50 or so by the end of the year. So it's been fun. We've seen really great adoption and conversations in the marketplace. And it's a fun learning experience for me. And we've got really talented folks working here. And it's been a really I love our mission.
[00:20:40] I love what we do. It's not just the product. It's not just this Airbus, that's nice to have it. It's really something that's helping people. And that's, what's been the most rewarding part about my time here at flex so far.
[00:20:53] Islin Munisteri: That's great. It's nice to work at a company where there's like a bigger mission than just making money.
[00:20:59] It's like we're helping with affordable housing.
[00:21:02] David Wren: Yeah. And like it I don't know, in my mind, I just like what I did. And I liked, the companies and the people that I've worked with. I've worked at really incredible places before. But having that really thoughtful mission and purpose that we have really makes getting out of bed and working your butt off every day that much easier.
[00:21:23] Islin Munisteri: I agree. I think that wraps up our podcast today.
[00:21:27] David Wren: Awesome. Thank you so much for the time. Really enjoyed it. Thanks,
[00:21:30] Islin Munisteri: David. I really enjoyed it as well.
[00:21:35] Have a great one.
[00:21:36] David Wren: Bye.