Augury recently recruited Kevin Pruna to join the team as a Client Success Manager. Kevin brings many skills to the table, including fluency in Spanish, which has allowed him to support Augury’s Spanish-speaking customers more deeply and effectively. To highlight National Hispanic Heritage Month, we spoke to Kevin on how his background – and language fluency – helps shape his life and work.
“There’s a real comfort level that comes when you speak to someone in their native language,” says Augury’s Kevin Pruna. “And I do think you exude a certain extra charisma if you speak to someone in their own tongue. A shared native language can really get you genuinely closer to someone.”
“One of my coworkers in Customer Success, who’s based out of Israel, said something that really stuck: that 50% of the relationship is made as soon as you speak to them in their own language.”
Starting at Augury in the summer of 2021 as a Client Success Manager, Kevin has already built some strong connections. “My job is to maintain the relationships with our larger clients. It’s mostly about building a rapport, and triage issues as they come up. If I can’t help, I connect them with the best people that can.”
As one of Augury’s clients put it: “Previous to Kevin’s arrival we hadn’t been able to include other team members who are not English speakers. The fact that he’s able to communicate with my team, and I don’t have to be there to translate is awesome. And it can only happen because he’s there!”
Kevin came to supply chain manufacturing in a roundabout way. He always imagined himself as a biology professor spending a lot of time in the lab. But grad school cured him. “Little did I know I would hate talking to beakers so much. I quickly realized the solitary life is not for me,” recalls Kevin.
“But I finished the degree anyway and then moved back to New York where I started working for a small tech startup doing logistics. That’s where I realized that tech really tickled that spot that I liked from science – it’s all about how the learning should never stop.”
“Then I heard from former colleagues how great the culture was at Augury. And ultimately, I wanted to be in an industry that could make a difference. And the pandemic had really beaten the supply chain down to its foundations. I thought working here would be a nice exposure to what the future could look like.”
Currently around half of Kevin’s customers are Spanish-speaking. “But it’s funny: I actually consider English my native language even though my mom is Colombian and my dad is Ecuadorian.
After meeting and marrying in London, his parents moved to New York where Kevin was born. “I think the only reason why I was able to really maintain my Spanish was because neither really spoke English. So, I was always their liaison to the outside world – the middle person. From a very young age, I was translating doctor’s notes, making the appointments, talking to the cable guy. There I was: a seven-year-old talking to the forty-year-old cable guy. And now that I think about it, it was perhaps these sorts of conversations that may have seeded my passion for tech,” chuckles Kevin.
“At the same time, my mom probably inspired me more than anyone. She never went to college or got an education but she was super scrappy and somehow always got the job done. I like to think I bring that to my job.”
“My initial reaction when jumping on a call with a customer is making them feel comfortable. Speaking to them in their native language opens up so many doors to a deeper conversation of the product, feedback, and solutions,” says Kevin.
“I actually put a lot of importance in the banter at the beginning of a call,” says Kevin, “to just ask about their day or week. This type of banter isn’t as feasible when you’re not speaking the same language. It’s here where you can make the actual connection.”
Rachel Green, Augury’s Director of Customer Success, totally agrees: “The difference in communication from a skilled Customer Success Manager using Google Translate and from one who is a native speaker of the language is incredible. It resonates differently with customers. Even just an email from a native speaker provides an immediate connection. They reach out to Kevin, when before they sometimes didn’t even reply.”
“Kevin is an amazing employee and a great fit for Augury – especially now that we’ve had so much growth in Latin America,” says Rachel. “His language skills were attractive to me from the beginning and he’s proven me right since day one. In fact, he translated a full Augury training in his first week on the team, and it made a huge difference!”
“I know before I started,” says Kevin, “Augury was having problems getting a reaction from a couple of sites in Latin America – so we were unable to seriously onboard them. But when Augury brought me into the loop, the guy there responded immediately and asked if we could jump into a call right then. He actually had a lot to say and appreciated that Augury took the initiative to bring in a Spanish speaker. And actually, I have another call with him today. So, you could say just like Augury, I was a quick return on investment,” smiles Kevin.
“But seriously,” says Kevin, “as Augury expands globally, we are now taking this initiative much earlier: looping someone in at the very beginning of the sales process who can speak the language, whether it’s Mandarin, Japanese, Thai or whatever. Not only does this help with the actual sale but also with the adoption. We need these sorts of people connectors,” says Kevin.
“And yes, you can say that in a way I am still playing the same connecting role as I was for my parents. But maybe that’s a big part of what heritage is all about.”
If you want to talk to someone about Augury in your native language, do reach out. We’ll make it happen. And since Augury is quickly expanding into LATAM, APAC and EU, if you are bilingual do keep an eye on our career openings.
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