Meet a Dragon: Zane Wruble
In Komodo Health’s Meet a Dragon Series, Customer Success Operations Manager Zane Wruble talks about her passion for Life Sciences, women’s health, and the lessons she’s learned on the flying trapeze.
After studying biology at Harvard, you went on to get your MBA from NYU Stern. Was that a change in your career path, or did you always know you wanted to couple science with business?
I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do for my career! In high school, I had an amazing science teacher, from whom I learned all about the broad possibilities for the future in the biological sciences, which is what led me to studying biology in college. I quickly decided that bench science and medical school were not for me, and my career center turned me on to the idea of coupling Life Sciences and business based on the skills I enjoyed using day to day.
I spent three years at the New York Genome Center, where I was hired as employee number three and wore many different hats as we grew to 100 employees. I learned a lot about what it takes to get a venture up and running, and the growing pains a company has as it matures, but I wanted to learn more about how to solve the problems and take on a leadership role. I went to business school to get that formal training, and recalibrate on what types of functional roles I’d want to focus on. I landed on strategy and operations, and ultimately Life Sciences drew me back in.
Life Sciences is a broad industry. What do you find most interesting about working within it? What gets you excited to go to work in the mornings?
There’s persistent innovation in Life Sciences — the science is always getting better, we are always learning more about the human body and medicine, and technology is constantly improving. The industry will never be boring because it’s so prone to disruption and change. Plus, as you mentioned, Life Sciences is broad— no two companies I’ve worked at have been in the same niche, so there’s always something new to learn based on the nuances of that business or therapeutic area.
I’m also very motivated by knowing that we’re solving real problems for real people. Because Komodo is anchored in its mission to reduce the burden of disease for patients, I know that my work in helping Komodo succeed is doing good for the world. That’s what keeps me going day to day.
You wear a few different hats in your role at Komodo. Can you tell us about your work, and how you stay focused in a role that bridges teams?
As the Customer Success (CS) Operations Manager, I touch a lot of different facets of the business. I see my role as a combination of project manager and strategic thought partner for not only the CS team, but also the broader Commercial organization.
I manage a broad stream of operational processes, tools, and workstreams related to the customer success team and Komodo’s customer renewals. Some recent projects have included a predictive analytics build and validation, and driving the vendor selection process to invest in and implement a large software solution that will help our CS team more effectively manage their responsibilities and deliver value to our customers.
Day to day, I’m “on call” for a lot of one-off questions and general problem solving, and I consider it a huge win that I’ve become a knowledge base for a lot of cross-functional needs. In order to stay focused, I’ve found the best method is to communicate proactively and set expectations with my stakeholders. By being open about where I’m spending my time every week and what’s on my plate, it’s much easier to hold to expected timelines on regular tasks and deliverables, all while having a better balance to address and prioritize ad-hoc and one-off requests effectively.
You work closely with Varanidae, Komodo’s Affinity Group focused on supporting womxn within the company. What’s your role in that organization, and what are some projects you’ve worked on?
I’m one of the co-chairs of Varanidae this year. We have four broad workstreams that we’re focusing on, and I help lead two of them — womxn’s health and self-advocacy. I’m invested in facilitating women helping women, so I enjoy finding ways to build those networking connections. I’ve hosted a couple of “Ask Me Anything” series with female leaders and plan to have more, and we’ve gotten great feedback on the candid responses that we’ve heard when we open up a dialogue with a broad cross-section of our team. I also did all the matching for our Varanidae mentorship program this year! Since I’ve been around Komodo a while, I know the people quite well, and it was a really fun puzzle to try to match people up based not only on the skills they identified as needs, but also on who I thought would get along.
I’m also very passionate about womxn’s health. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have a great network of doctors that have helped me be proactive about my health, especially as a woman with a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer, and I want to help bring those resources to other women at Komodo. We had a panel earlier this year on egg freezing, and I’m hoping to bring in a doctor who can speak to what women should be looking out for, what screening they should get at different stages of life, and how to best be your own health advocate. Right now, in light of the recent Supreme Court ruling, I'm working closely with Varanidae colleagues to support each other and talk through issues around access to reproductive healthcare.
We would be remiss not to mention one of the coolest things about you: You’ve been a flying trapeze artist and instructor for the past decade! What do you love about it, and has it taught you anything you’ve brought into Komodo?
As an instructor, I love helping people overcome their fear and pushing them to do things they never thought they’d be capable of. I also have to strike a careful balance in tone. I’m a stickler about things like good form and class etiquette, and I want my flyers to have good foundations before trying more advanced skills, so I’ve had to learn how to say no a lot. But I also need to keep it fun and keep my students motivated, so that the class is a good experience overall! I also really enjoy finding new ways to explain things to people and figuring out what coaching works best for each flyer, whether they’re a first-timer or a veteran. Although I’m strictly internally facing at Komodo, my teaching experience has taught me a lot about how to put on my “customer service” persona, and I’m very comfortable interacting with external stakeholders in any role I’ve held. Because I’ve also learned so much about how to deliver feedback, coach, and inspire others, I really look forward to managing people one day — I think I’ll enjoy it and be good at it.
As for flying itself, I’m both an athlete and performer at heart — and flying trapeze combines both aspects so perfectly, as it’s both a sport and an art. I’m not an adrenaline junkie at all, so overcoming the fear and pushing myself to get comfortable in the air is a constant battle, which makes it all the more rewarding when I succeed. There are always bigger tricks to try, and always things to work on to make my existing skills better, but even the simplest things can be beautiful when executed properly. The most rewarding part was when I started performing in my school’s staff shows, which are all done without safety lines. I get really into it — I’m usually the go-to on fly team to pick out our costumes and music, and there’s nothing like being able to wear as much glitter as possible and be creative and expressive while performing. You have to take the sport seriously enough that you’re exhibiting good judgment and not getting hurt, but shows are a great reminder not to take it too seriously.
Our Dragons are a diverse bunch! Co-workers hail from places as far-flung as Belfast and Mumbai to the American heartland. The uniqueness and diversity reflected in our people make Komodo a stronger team, and we are all united around one common mission: to reduce the global burden of disease. Interested in joining the Komodo Health team?