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Spotlight Series: Annabelle Goymer, Head of Customer Success & Enablement, IPI

Annabelle Goymer, Head of Customer Success & Enablement, IPI

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Annabelle is a strong advocate for promoting barrierless work for all and in empowering women in tech to follow their passions and achieve their goals.

Annabelle has 24 years’ experience within the contact centre industry and has worked across an array of roles and sectors including travel, public sector and financial services. From contact centre agent and trainer to an Avaya engineer and a consultant for Deloitte, Annabelle has had a varied and interesting career path. At IPI, Annabelle works to ensure IPI’s clients reach their financial and strategic goals, while also heading up IPI’s training and development – of which she is deeply passionate about. Annabelle is also a strong advocate for promoting barrierless work for all and in empowering women in tech to follow their passions and achieve their goals.

HOW DID YOU LAND YOUR CURRENT ROLE? WAS IT PLANNED? 

Yes and no! When I worked at Deloitte as a managing consultant and then as an independent contractor across various industries and large enterprises, from transport to public sector, I always looked back fondly to where I started at a small company. I have always liked the mentality, ethos and culture of a small company, and while I loved working for large companies, the ability to be agile is lessened significantly. I’ve also spent most of my career helping companies grow and improve, but then my job would be finished before I could experience the long-term impact of my work.

So, I always knew that eventually I wanted to land and end my career somewhere smaller where I could be part of the growth of that company and see the results. And I also knew it would be in the contact centre realm – I just didn’t know it would be IPI!

When a consulting opportunity came up with IPI, it was exactly the type of job within a smaller company that was growing that I had been looking for. I started my technical career working with the now IPI CEO Sat Sanghera and a few others within IPI, so that was a very happy coincidence as well! Sat is an inspiring person to work with and for. He has clarity of vision on where he wants to take the company – which is great motivation for all of us that work there. When the consulting turned into a full-time position offer, I knew I was in the right place, especially when IPI offered me the opportunity to take on and develop Customer Success– something a lot of small companies don’t have. Today, my role is still head of Customer Success, but I also look after and support consulting, training and success – and focus heavily on guiding our end customers achieve their goals, something I am very passionate about.

WHAT ARE THE KEY ROLES IN YOUR FIELD OF WORK, AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR CURRENT EXPERTISE? 

Customer Success is quite new for me in one sense, but given my rich experience with both technical and operational roles, I have developed a broad spectrum of knowledge and skills vital to this role. There are a lot of component parts to the role, and while Customer Success used to be about developing good client relationships it’s much wider than that nowadays. You need to have a solid understanding of the technology, people and processes as they relate to the client, and how they all fit together to deliver the best possible outcome for them. Having a blend of strong technical and strong operational knowledge is a must, in addition to good relationship skills.

DID YOU (OR DO YOU) HAVE A ROLE MODEL IN TECH OR BUSINESS IN GENERAL?

When I was younger, I wanted to be Jacques Cousteau, but that’s a whole other story! The first time I got excited about transformation in business was when I read Jack Welch’s book, Jack: Straight from the Gut 20 years ago. From an industry and customer success management perspective, I turn to the likes of Gainsight, Salesforce and others who have been pivotal in the evolution of Customer Success for best practice and insights. My managing partner at Deloitte was also a big inspiration for me, especially in the way he supported, managed and guided me.

But in general, I draw inspiration from various sources and don’t rely on a single role model or industry for insight. Perhaps a little obscurely, I particularly enjoy reading about accounts of failures and the lessons learned in order to improve. I seek inspiration from individuals who acknowledge their fallibility and see mistakes as valuable learning experiences.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR CAREER, SO FAR? 

Probably my first project at Deloitte, which was consulting and programme management on a 25-thousand seat contact centre project delivery. It was a huge learning curve, having moved from a small company and landed at Deloitte. I was like a swan – trying to keep calm on top whilst swimming frantically underneath! It was a five-year programme, and I did the first three before deciding to move onto the next challenge, and the client feedback was great, and it gave me the confidence and self-belief that I could take on more complicated and larger projects going forward.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE WORK DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU? 

There is no such thing as average work day for me, which is a good thing as I would likely get bored because I like to be constantly on the move! I like to be challenged, to get involved and lend my skills to where they can help guide, fix or help support change. Whilst I do have some predictable things involved in my role such as team and individual 1:1s, client workshops and product work, I appreciate the variety of tasks that come with the role. I love getting involved in determining solutions for our clients – particularly when an answer isn’t immediately obvious. I enjoy looking for that other angle of approach that can be uncovered from proof of concepts and designs that is just a little bit subtler. No one day looks the same, ever. But that’s what keeps me busy and out of trouble!

ARE THERE ANY SPECIFIC SKILLS OR TRAITS THAT YOU NOTICE COMPANIES LOOK FOR WHEN YOU’RE SEARCHING FOR ROLES IN YOUR FIELD? 

Typically, when companies are looking at tech-based roles, they’re looking at candidates’ qualifications and tech-related experience. At IPI, we look at things a bit differently. We look at the qualities and potential people have. Being technical is one thing, but having the ability to adapt and have an open approach is equally as important. It sounds obvious, but having a common sense but analytical thought process is as important a skill as the technical parts, especially from the Customer Success perspective. Now I think people are realising we need to have a blend of both broad experience and business acumen combined with a strong or solid technical knowledge.

HAS ANYONE EVER TRIED TO STOP YOU FROM LEARNING AND DEVELOPING IN YOUR PROFESSIONAL LIFE, OR HAVE YOU FOUND THE TECH SECTOR SUPPORTIVE? 

I don’t think anyone has tried to stop me, but the challenge with small companies and the barrier to learning is trying to carve out time as you’re always so busy. The barrier can also sometimes be myself and being disciplined enough to proactively take on new learnings rather than just being spoon-fed. It’s also about ensuring you learn from others around you and take feedback in the manner in which its meant – it’s not criticism but constructive feedback, and it can be invaluable in helping you grow and progress professionally. Even if it doesn’t feel initially welcome, all forms of feedback should be appreciated for how they make our work and lives easier long-term.

HAVE YOU EVER FACED INSECURITIES AND ANXIETIES DURING YOUR CAREER, AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?

Daily! I think everyone faces imposter syndrome, especially in the early stage of their career. For me, this manifested as insomnia and an excessive amount of baking to destress. At work I avoided taking certain opportunities I felt unable to do, but I was lucky to have people around me that gave me the right encouragement as they saw something in me. While I absolutely still to this day have my moments of self-doubt or lack of confidence, nowadays, I try to use any worries as motivation and push myself along and give challenges a go. The whole team at IPI is also incredibly supportive, which makes things far less daunting.

ENTERING THE WORLD OF WORK CAN BE DAUNTING. DO YOU HAVE ANY WORDS OF ADVICE FOR ANYONE FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

People entering the workforce today are facing vastly different expectations in the world of work than even just a handful of years ago. But even if they don’t have the business or technical experience, it doesn’t mean their life experiences don’t count. Common sense goes a long way, and you can also learn a lot from just watching and asking questions to those around you. Just because you’re new doesn’t mean your contribution doesn’t hold value. Equally many of those entering the workforce today have grown up with technology being an integral part of their everyday lives, so they have the potential to more easily adapt and can grow more rapidly in some roles.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE OTHER WOMEN WANTING TO REACH THEIR CAREER GOALS IN TECHNOLOGY?

For me there are a lot fewer barriers than their used to be, and fewer people who still think women shouldn’t be working in tech – however I know they still exist in parts. Personally, I think it’s as much ourselves now that prevent us from doing what we want to do. If you want to reach your career goals as a woman, there is no reason why you shouldn’t – it is about time, effort and belief. I started by delivering training for business phone systems, and while that wasn’t my dream job, it got me through the door so then I could move within the company. Think about how you can move round the mountain rather than seeing it as an immovable feat.

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