C-suite career advice: Christina Kosmowski, LogicMonitor

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? “‘Don’t be nice!’ This poor advice comes from people who mistake kindness for weakness.”

Headshot of Christina Kosmowski, CEO at LogicMonitor

Name: Christina Kosmowski

Company: LogicMonitor

Job Title: CEO

Location: San Francisco

As CEO of LogicMonitor, Christina Kosmowski is responsible for accelerating the company’s hypergrowth and delivering on its brand promise of helping C-level executives and their teams thrive through transformation. Prior to assuming the role of CEO, Kosmowski served as LogicMonitor’s President, leading go-to-market strategy, R&D, customer success and operations. She has spent over two decades holding leadership positions in the enterprise software space and is passionate about discovering new ways to bring the worlds of technology and business together. Kosmowski came to LogicMonitor from Slack, where she spent four years building and leading Customer Success and Enterprise GTM Teams. Kosmowski also spent 15 years at Salesforce, where she oversaw functions including renewals, consulting, support and customer success. In both of these roles, she helped guide her respective organisations through pivots, disruptions and rapid periods of growth, while also being a pioneer of the Customer Success practice.

What was the most valuable piece of career advice that you received? Someone advised me early on to set up my own personal board of directors. For me, this includes great teachers and mentors like Maria Martinez, who I worked with for a long time and is now COO at Cisco. Maria really helped me understand how to use data to make management decisions, which has been invaluable.

My teenage daughter is also on my personal board of directors. I try to surround myself with people that help me keep it real, bring my authentic self to work and help me to see how I’m showing up as a leader, and my daughter does just that. She has no problem being honest with her feedback!

What was the worst piece of business advice that you received? “Don’t be nice!” This poor advice comes from people who mistake kindness for weakness. It is kind to hold people accountable and be transparent, and it is this fairness and authenticity that others look for in an employer and colleague.

What advice would you give to someone starting their career in IT/tech? Having a growth mindset is very important. Tech is a fast-paced industry where there is always room to grow. My advice is to be curious, constantly look for ways to improve, evolve and adapt what you’re doing, especially within the current market conditions and rapidly changing environment.

Did you always want to work in IT/tech? Yes, I studied Industrial Engineering at university which focused on using technology to solve business problems. However, instead of heading down an engineering career path, I found what I really enjoyed was helping customers translate technology into measurable business value.

What was your first job in IT/tech? I worked as an industrial engineer for a year before moving into a consulting role.

What are some common misconceptions about working in IT/tech? In the fast-moving world of tech innovation, products don’t win, people do. It’s the people that make a tech business successful, not just the tech itself.

What tips would you give to someone aiming for a c-level position? Be confident - all of us have self-doubt. As a C-level executive, the company wants to see you champion the business’ ambition and carry that confidence into everything you do. Your confidence is your energy, your armor, your brand. Own it, live it, project it.

What are your career ambitions and have you reached them yet? I've always wanted to be a CEO and the work I’ve done around customer success created a great foundation for me.

I was on the ground floor of establishing customer success at Salesforce and did the same at Slack. It’s long been a passion of mine - translating the business value of products for customers and rallying an entire company around the customer.

The decision to come to LogicMonitor and take the position as CEO was based on what I heard from CIOs. I just listened to what was going on for them, how digital transformation is affecting their companies. I could see pressure ratcheting up on CIOs because their technology stacks are becoming more complex. It’s more important than ever to keep those stacks running and reliable, as well as providing transparency and visibility back to the C-suite. LogicMonitor supports that need.

Do you have a good work life balance in your current role? As a new CEO, it’s certainly been a juggling act! My daughters and I talk about everything, work included. They know what I’m struggling with in the office and what I’m excited about. And as my colleagues know, it’s not uncommon for my family to pop up in Zoom meetings! While there may be some overlap, I think it’s really important to carve out dedicated time for both work and family life, to make sure I’m showing up, present and giving my full attention. Some weeks are better balanced than others, but it’s something I’m mindful of and working on.

What, if anything, would you change about the route your career path has taken? Career paths always have their twists and turns but each experience has taught me something valuable and without that experience, I wouldn’t be where I am today. For that reason, I wouldn’t change it.

Which would you recommend: A coding bootcamp or a computer science degree? I think it's important to study what you love and will help you develop skills that you can use no matter what career direction you choose: problem solving skills, communication skills, etc. You can always learn specific skills for a particular job if you have the core competencies.

How important are specific certifications? Certifications are great for strengthening specific skills for a job and give you an edge when applying for a position.

What are the three skills or abilities you look for in prospective candidates? Strong communication skills, confidence and an eagerness to learn - never stop learning. I’m a new CEO and I’m continuously learning about our company, people, board, customers, partners, shareholders, and our product. I’m understanding more every day about the role of being Chief Executive Officer. Ask any seasoned CEO about this and they will tell you what they have told me — when you think you have learned all you need to know, it’s probably time to step out of the job!

I also seek candidates with unique experiences and diverse skills outside the “expected” targets. For example, I recently appointed our new CIO who comes from the industrial space. We hired outside of the software and tech industry, knowing that industrial companies are very focused on resilience to meet nearly any challenge. We were able to find a CIO to bring that spirit of industrial readiness to LogicMonitor and our customers. This can be done with hires at all levels – forming complementary teams and building a stronger organisation overall. 

What would put you off a candidate? Part of my goal in my current role is to equip our teams with the opportunity to bring their authentic selves to work. When a person feels like they can be real with their colleagues, when they can lean into what makes them tick and what matters to them, they will do the best work they have ever done. If a candidate wasn’t willing to lean in and engage with the team, I think that would ring alarm bells for me.

What are the most common mistakes made by candidates in an interview? How can those mistakes be avoided? It may be a cliche but communication really is key! Listen to what is being asked and carefully consider your response before you answer the question.

Do you think it is better to have technical or business skills – or a mix of both? I think it’s important to have a mix of both. Too often, C-level executives think they must do it all on their own. Smart leaders seek the advice of experts — for peer advice, specialty skills, to navigate a crisis, to make key decisions, and more. This advice often comes from outside the company, to tap into experience and external perspectives. The mark of a smart leader (at all levels — not just in the C-suite) is one who recognises when they are beyond their own expertise and seeks guidance from specialists.