Career Paths for Women in Customer Success
I had the honour of chatting with the remarkable Maranda Dziekonski, a veteran Customer Experience leader who is continually inspiring generations of Customer Success professionals with her thought leadership and advocacy. Maranda is currently Chief Customer Officer at Swiftly, one of the Top Global 100 Customer Success Strategists, Top 50 CS Influencers, and Top 25 CS Judge. Maranda credits her career success to a lot of years of hard work, learning, investing in herself, and staying on top of the industry trends. She also credits the fact that she was able to find some great mentors who were skilled leaders and invested in her career growth. On the podcast, Maranda shares her best tips for setting your unique career path.
The current trends in Customer Success
There is no denying—the Customer Success industry has gone through an evolution over the past several years. As companies grow and evolve, Customer Success has begun to split off into a lot of different specialized functions, such as operations, implementation, renewals, professional services, and marketing. There are fewer generalist positions in Customer Success lately, but that means that there are limitless directions and paths to take on your career journey.
For example, during this interview, Maranda was the Senior Vice President of Customer Success and People, which is quite a unique position. Having worked in the start-up environment, Maranda has had the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats and work her way into a unique position. And she noted, while Customer Success and People are two different disciplines, there are also a lot of similarities that help her excel at what she does and advance the industry.
‘If you think about the customer funnel and a new hire funnel, they’re very similar. You want to think about retention, enablement programs such as training, and setting them up for growth and expanding their skill sets—you want to do that in both customer success and people.’This type of multidisciplinary mindset can be applied in a lot of areas and make for interesting applications of Customer Success principles and practices.
Create Customer Success roles of tomorrow
In her book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg put forth the idea that there is no career ladder, but rather a career jungle gym—meaning that there is more than one way to get to the top of your career. There’s more space for everyone at every level, and you can creatively explore different paths on your career journey rather than just moving up in one strict path.
Maranda also spoke on this idea of a career jungle gym. She encourages women who want to be leaders to go ahead and find what inspires them and become a leader in that area. Don’t wait for permission or to receive that title before you feel empowered to practice being a leader and taking control of your career path.
‘There’s a very big difference between being a leader and being a manager. Anyone can be a leader, even without the title. There are folks that I view as leaders in my organization who are fresh out of college and don’t have a lot of formal work experience or who otherwise do not have a manager title. I think that says a lot about the possibilities. So, find something you’re passionate about and lead on it. Flex that leadership muscle.’
‘Find something you’re passionate about and lead on it.‘Maranda Dziekonski
And if you’re struggling to figure out what you want your career journey to look like and feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities that a jungle gym mindset can open up, you’re not alone!
Sometimes an HR department might have an idea of what a career path at their organization should look like, but maybe it doesn’t quite align with what their team members want or need. And sometimes you might be interested in a path that would benefit your team, it just doesn’t exist yet at that company or in the industry.
‘Be brave and have conversations with your manager and your HR professional about your aspirations. Start having that dialogue so you can at least ask questions and get information about where you could go. I’ve seen numerous occasions where a role that doesn’t exist today could exist tomorrow—and you could be the one that creates it.’
‘A role that doesn’t exist today could exist tomorrow, and you could be the one that creates it.‘Maranda Dziekonski