Meet a Dragon: Gabriel Roybal-Jungemann
When he’s not busy leading a team of customer success managers, you'll find Director of Customer Success Gabriel Roybal-Jungemann volunteering with the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, walking his new puppy, and cultivating a more inclusive workplace via Dragon Pride.
You’ve been at Komodo for just over a year. Can you start by telling us a bit about your background and your journey to Komodo?
I grew up in a small, rural town near Santa Fe, New Mexico. I was one of the first in my family to leave our hometown for school, and the first generation to get an advanced degree. My dad has epilepsy, and because of that, I was inspired to study the human brain. I got my bachelors in neuroscience, my Ph.D. studying human gene splicing, and conducted my post-doc studying adult neural stem cell epigenetics. While working toward my degree, I realized that I loved teaching and working with academics at minority-serving organizations to improve access and equity in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field. With this in mind, I went on to co-found a startup in the BluePrint Health Incubator in New York City, aiming to improve health literacy to empower families to make the best choices regarding their health care.
From there, I spent four years at Science Exchange working in a variety of research and development and business development roles. In those roles, I was able to co-lead our Japanese and European expansions and work closely with Pharma drug development teams across the globe. I was able to learn a lot about pre-clinical research and was curious about what happens to a promising therapeutic post-discovery. One of my mentors started a job at Komodo, where she raved about both the mission and the culture. When I heard about the opportunity as a Director of Customer Success in Life Sciences at Komodo, I went after it and I’ve been enjoying the ride ever since.
What is your favorite part of working at Komodo?
My team is made of absolute rock stars. I am currently leading a San Francisco-, Los Angeles- and Chicago-based team of Customer Success Managers and Associates, and we’re responsible for offering strategic guidance and serving as thought partners to our customers. We have a unique role, in that we have to understand both the Komodo solutions and business, and the business needs, constraints, market, and goals of our customers, as they work to get the best new therapies to patients.
In terms of individual projects, I’m really excited about working with a customer on earlier cancer detection. We know that later-stage diagnosis often means more expensive, intensive, and invasive treatments. Our data is helping support this customer’s work to shift diagnosis to earlier in the patient journey and mitigate those late-stage treatment challenges through earlier insights into disease.
You’ve been heavily involved in DragonPride, including organizing a guest speaker this winter to discuss disparities in the impact of HIV/AIDS. How did you get involved in this important group?
It is so important in any organization for employees and peers to feel like they can be their authentic, whole selves at work. For me, as a visible, queer, Latinx person in the STEM field, I knew that was something I wanted to be able to bring to any team I joined. I joined Komodo right before COVID hit, and even virtually, I had many Dragons who welcomed me and encouraged me to connect with the DragonPride community.
DragonPride was just beginning at the time, and we all collaborated to align on our mission and define how we wanted to use this platform to include everyone, regardless of how they identify. It’s been incredibly encouraging to get such a positive response from both our peers and the Komodo leadership who continue to provide the autonomy, resources, and space to roll out affinity groups. We have had a number of tough yet invaluable conversations about representation within the company and leadership trajectory, and we are a part of shaping the culture we want to build here.
At Komodo, you can be who you are. Everyone has such diverse backgrounds; while a lot of companies have that in their mission, this is one of the first places I’ve seen that in practice.
What’s your favorite initiative you’ve been a part of through DragonPride?
During non-COVID times, I’m a volunteer HIV-test counselor at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF). This role requires state certification in HIV-test counseling from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. As a result, we play a critical role in delivering the full spectrum of SFAF's client-centered care from harm reduction counseling to health and housing navigation. Most importantly, we are able to create a safe space for patients to talk honestly and without stigma to improve their physical, mental, and social well-being. Their primary fundraiser is AIDS LifeCycle, a 545-mile bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles that takes place every year in June. Over 3,000 cyclists ride together, stopping in tiny towns along the way and camping overnight. It’s an incredible parade of allies and members of the LGBTQIA+ community through the Central Valley and California’s Pacific Coast.
This year, I was part of the team to bring the AIDS Life Cycle initiative to Komodo. Because of COVID, we are hosting a virtual version of the ride, the TogetheRide, so that regardless of where you’re located, you can participate. The Komodo community has been doing a lot of internal fundraising with competitions and activities, like the competition where our leadership team competed against a group of Dragons to see who could hold the Eagle [yoga] Pose the longest. When the in-person event comes back next year, we hope to have a team of Dragon riders and volunteers for the full AIDS LifeCycle ride.
On another note, California just lifted their COVID restrictions! What are you most excited about for post-lockdown life?
Socially and professionally, I’m really looking forward to hanging out with my team in person. I’ve seen them excel virtually with customers, but I’m excited to see them in the field to demonstrate our value and build relationships. We’re all looking forward to those organic water-cooler conversations you get when everyone is working in the same space. After becoming close during the pandemic, we have plans for more social meet-ups outside the office as well.
My husband and I are also new puppy parents! We adopted our very photogenic dog Ace Brûlée from a local no-kill shelter, called Family Dog Rescue, in July of last year. So we’re looking forward to bringing him out into the post-COVID world as well!