When it comes to building a career in tech, there is no one true path to success.
Some build their career from entry level to leadership, others try on different roles before finding the right fit — and one or two research neural population response variability in somatosensation first. Well, the latter might just be the experiences of NS1’s Director of Data Science Clare Gollnick, but she isn’t the only one who brings an interesting background to the leadership team.
NS1’s variety of backgrounds have helped create an innovative and diverse culture at the company, and we spoke with Gollnick, VP of Marketing Kathleen Rohrecker and VP of Engineering Renee Orser to learn more about the paths they took and how they’re shaping the backbone of the internet.
EMPLOYEES: 98 (52 local)
WHAT THEY DO: NS1 provides DNS and traffic management technologies that enable customers to control their traffic and infrastructure.
WHERE THEY DO IT: New York City
RAISING A GLASS: NS1 hosts quarterly happy hours to celebrate diversity. They’re raising their glasses to women everywhere in March as part of a Women’s History Month happy hour.
Clare Gollnick, Director of Data Science
As the founding member of NS1’s growing data science team, Clare lays down the foundation of values and culture that will help her team deliver data to other teams and inform the company’s product strategy.
BEYOND WORK: Clare is an endurance athlete and has a repertoire of races under her belt that would make anyone breathless. She’s competed in marathons and triathlons and is now focused on cycling. Nothing quite reminds her to take life one step at a time like a 26.2-mile race.
You didn’t initially come from a tech background. Can you elaborate on your journey into tech and what attracted you to NS1?
I’m a neuroscientist by training with a doctorate in biomedical engineering. This is definitely a second career for me, but research and experimentation is still a big part of my work. Since leaving science, I’ve worked as a big data engineer, a data scientist and as CTO of a venture-backed cyber and information security startup. I still refer to myself as a recovering academic at times, but I can grow a team, bring products to market and recover from an infrastructure outage with the best of them.
How is your team shaping NS1’s platform?
I’m working with a team on Pulsar, NS1’s traffic routing engine. Central to this product is a dynamic map of the internet. When I started at NS1, I was surprised to learn that the infrastructure of the internet is based on a handful of communication protocols and important handshake agreements among businesses, organizations and governments.
As a result, the paths data travels across this network change day to day, moment to moment. You have traffic jams on the internet just like on physical roadways. Keeping an accurate map of the internet is a huge big data collection and analysis challenge, but Pulsar allows network engineers to ensure every user of their application has the best possible experience — in spite of the craziness and instability of the internet as a whole.
Working in infrastructure is exciting, as this industry has not yet experienced the data science explosion that has transformed other industries.”
What is the next big step for the data science team?
Our next big step is to grow. NS1 is growing quickly, but the data science team, in particular, is looking to recruit the type of person that is excited to build from the ground up. Working in infrastructure is exciting, as this industry has not yet experienced the data science explosion that has transformed other industries. There is so much unexplored space and potential to invent and discover.
Renee Orser, VP of Engineering
Renee guides her team in shaping and delivering NS1’s DNS offerings. She molds NS1’s platform and tools from the best processes and communication models and ensures team members are in the best position to succeed.
BEYOND WORK: Renee disconnects from work by digging her hands into clay and crafting ceramic art.
You’ve held several different titles at NS1. Can you lead us through that journey and how NS1 has helped with your professional growth?
My first title transition came out of a gap analysis and role definition exercise I generated with leaders on the engineering team. We identified opportunities for building out ownership around our organizational development and personnel leadership, and I moved into that role after a couple of months on the team.
Along the way, I’ve developed a network of peers in the New York tech community who have helped me continue to learn and grow. Their collective experiences have informed initiatives and programs that we design at NS1. Those connections have been key in the evolution of my role and the profile I seek to nurture.
You mentioned how critical your network of peers has been for you. Is there any advice you’ve learned from a mentor that’s helped you?
One discussion I had with a mentor has stuck with me in particular for this job, and it relates to trusting my own skills and qualifications. At times, you need to push yourself and have a bit of blind faith in your own abilities. When we doubt ourselves during those challenging moments, we discount the strengths that we can bring. It’s important to reinforce to yourself what you can do and lean on those strengths in your role.
At times, you need to push yourself and have a bit of blind faith in your own abilities.”
What goals do you have for your team?
We have some ambitious product delivery goals around some new and transformative features that complement our DNS offerings. We’re refining both how we iterate upon and operate our SaaS products, as well as how we package and ship containerized versions of our products.
Delivering both SaaS and software products is a unique and exciting challenge that defines much of how our team evolves and operates. We’re also revisiting, standardizing and improving the quality of our primary operational functions, including our interview processes and our shared coding best practices.
Kathleen Rohrecker, VP of Marketing
Inside NS1’s marketing kitchen, Kathleen dons the metaphorical chef’s toque. She works with the go-to-market team, helping them cultivate a fresh pipeline, mix in the latest marketing data and add sizzle to the NS1 brand to attract new customers and talent.
BEYOND WORK: Kathleen grew up in a family passionate about cooking, so it’s no surprise that she experiments in her own kitchen and hosts a new recipes dinner party where there’s only one rule: Bring a dish you’ve never prepared before.
What lessons have you drawn from mentorship over the course of your career?
People think mentors need to be someone older than you, but I have a younger mentor who helps me better understand social media marketing and search engine optimization. Those areas are critical now, but they weren’t really talked about 10 years ago. I’ve learned that it’s helpful to have a variety of mentors for different reasons.
I love to talk with customers, and I love to write about the problems that NS1 helps customers solve.”
What challenges has your team taken on since you’ve joined?
NS1 is used by the biggest internet brands and enterprise applications — think of companies like DropBox, Salesforce, Pinterest and Yelp. Our go-to-market team, which is comprised of sales, marketing and partner teams, are now taking the core technology to other enterprises with similar application traffic orchestration challenges. We’re now approaching customers with a named accounts strategy, so our marketing team is moving our mindset, programs and technology to programmatic account-based marketing to support that approach. It’s been a fun challenge building, testing and learning this new approach.
If there’s one current task that you enjoy the most, what would it be?
I love to talk with customers, and I love to write about the problems that NS1 helps customers solve. Our customers are clever and forward-looking, so it’s valuable to get an understanding of how they’re managing application delivery infrastructure for today and beyond.