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Growing My Customer Success Career and Musical Skills, Thanks to Appian


When Tarun Abraham won the Appian Pillar Award, he said it felt like “a manifestation of my dreams.” 

Tarun is a Senior Technical Delivery Manager on our Customer Success team who’s been at Appian for over ten years. Outside of work, he enjoys playing the piano. He started learning to play a few years ago on an electric keyboard. Recently, he won a brand new piano as part of the Appian Pillar Award prize. 

The Pillar Award recognizes employees who embody the four Appian values in action with a personalized prize. The values are: 

  1. Work to impact (not completion)
  2. Ambition 
  3. Respect
  4. Constructive Dissent (with resolution)

We asked Tarun about the emotional moment he won the award, his career journey at Appian, and his most impactful projects. 

Congrats! How did it feel to receive the Pillar Award? 

It was the best feeling! At that moment, it made me realize all the hard work I’ve put in over the past ten years. Bob Kramer, Founder and General Manager at Appian, presented the award and was able to condense years into a ten-minute speech about my milestones and strengths. The speech left me feeling so proud and motivated. 

I’m someone who loves learning, both inside and outside of work. I think it’s important to try being a beginner at things even as an adult. So, in my 30s I decided to learn to play the piano. Having never played a musical instrument before, I purchased an electric keyboard and started taking lessons. A piano is expensive and as much as I always wanted one, I didn’t think I’d reach a point where I could justify that kind of investment. So when I received a piano as part of this award, it was a dream come true. It was so personal and my team knew how much learning piano meant to me. Now it’s a tangible piece of Appian that will always live in my home! 

In your over ten years at Appian, how have you seen the company change and grow?

I’ve seen our vision become more mature, but it’s always been about delivering solutions quickly to our customers to help address their business needs. I joined Appian in 2011 right out of college. During the interview, our VP of Product Marketing built a simple application through Appian in about a minute that had a form to take in data and display information. I was then able to use the application in real-time on my phone which blew me away. The fact that Appian had that kind of technological capability in 2011 was outstanding. I have seen adjustments to the platform happen over the past decade. I’ve learned a lot around customers’ needs, and still see customers having that same reaction to Appian as I did in my interview—amazed at what our product can do. 

I’ve found that many software providers look to build the best technology, but our focus is so much more than that. We ensure our product provides the most value to our customers, and adjust our technology based on that. Anyone could build cool product features, but it won’t matter if it’s not useful. We provide that tailored, personalized experience to our customers.

What’s a recent project at Appian you worked on that you're especially proud of?

We worked with a pet insurance firm whose main line of business was claims processing. During the pandemic, the firm experienced exponential growth and they planned to grow at the rate of 25% in revenue in the coming year. To support this growth target, they wanted to build new products and services, as well as expand to newer geographies. They also wanted to reduce their overhead costs. So claims automation was a very important aspect of their growth strategy.

Before Appian came into the picture, 60% of claims received by the firm for adjudication were sent by the pet owner via email to a common mailbox. These emails were manually retrieved and classified as claims by a dedicated team and then sent over to another team for adjudication. The process was very manual and not sustainable to support their growth strategy.

We automated the process by systematically retrieving the emails along with the attachments using our automation features, classifying the documents as claim related using our AI capabilities, and then finally sending the document to a custom machine learning model for automatic adjudication. Thanks to Appian, manual intervention by staff is only needed when there’s an exception.

I was excited to work on this project and it felt like a fun science project. I got to experiment with our AI features and saw the direct impact on how our customers could reduce claim costs through our technology with minimal human intervention. I learned that a lot of the work that happens in the pet insurance field is very innovative and then often gets applied to other industries in healthcare. I’m hoping the automation and design patterns we’ve established on this project can be used in other areas.

What makes you stay at Appian long-term? 

I’ve worked at Appian my whole career and there are three main reasons: 

1. The smart, bold people. 

When you’re trying to solve a difficult technical problem, you want to be surrounded by people who will challenge you and think of things in a different way. Appian has the smartest people I know who always bring a perspective to every meeting. It may be different than yours but people are willing to share, have an opinion, and want to understand your point of view. 

2. The commitment to our values.

An important part of a workplace culture is mutually respecting each other and diversity. I grew up in India and I’ve never felt any bias based on where I’m from. Your opinions are always valid. Your perspective is invited and valued. Our shared focus is how we’re creating impact for each other, partners, and customers. 

3. Working on challenging problems every day.

Being on the Customer Success team, I’m always working on cool new problems that keep me excited. I get to work in different industries and domains so you’re always learning. Every few weeks or months with a new customer, I start from scratch, figure out the root problem, collect all the data, build relationships, and then launch.

I don’t get bored. That was my fear before joining Appian, that I’d get stuck in a role doing the same thing over and over. There's nothing wrong with people sticking to a particular job, but for me, I knew I needed a company where there was lots of room to learn and grow.

Learn more about our Customer Success team here.