Last month, we had the chance to talk to Kristen Padilla, Team Lead, Customer Success at Absolute Software, to learn more about one of ‘North America’s Top 5 Emerging Jobs’. Here’s part of her conversation with Jennifer Chan, CEO of Preview Careers
How did your career evolve into becoming a Customer Success Manager?
Kristen: I did a working holiday visa at an investment research company in the UK, and I was doing a variety of roles including project management, product management, support, and sales. A lot of [the experience] was about connecting the customer to product, and ensuring their voices were heard within our organization.
The second company I worked in was a very small start-up in Vancouver as a Business Analyst. It was a broad role which I came into from a customer-facing point-of-view.
After about 4 years [my employer] approached me and said, you're great at the project side and you own these accounts, why don't you try client success. Hearing that title for the first time I thought, that sounds really fluffy, it doesn't sound like a real job. But it really is about making the client successful - owning the relationship, the account, and the revenue [from that account] as well.
That's how I evolved into a customer success role. It was very organic, especially as it was a function that was just being identified at that same time period.
Nobody goes to school to be a Customer Success Manager (CSM), so what’s your advice to people who’d like to pursue a non-technical role in the tech industry?
Kristen: Look at the experiences that you have, whether that’s in different clubs, or from volunteer experience. Anything customer facing, where you’ve had the chance to engage with people, and having a résumé that’s well rounded. You want to show how you’ve made someone successful in the goals that they’re accomplishing. Mentoring and tutoring people and showing that you want to help people is an important part. You don’t need to have a technical background, but it’s important for you to be driven. It’s important to know what industries you’re interested in, being knowledgeable and open to learning at the beginning of your career will show your passion to learn more, and will open more doors for you.
What’s the potential of pursuing this career path? What does the trajectory look like?
Kristen: The nice thing about being a Customer Success Manager in a company is you need to know the product (software) and you start developing relationships across departments - so if you are interested in sales, you can definitely shift to a more sales-focused role even in the same organization. Understanding what the product is trying to solve and accomplish, can translate into you being a business analyst or a product manager as well. The skill sets that you develop that are not mutually exclusive, and can open doors to other opportunities.
The career trajectory [within Customer Success] is upwards. With more experience in the role, you get opportunities to manage teams - this can eventually lead to you becoming a Chief Customer Officer (CCO) which gives you a seat at the table along with the CEO, CFO, COO etc. of the company you work at.
Want to learn more about these opportunities?
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