For today’s profile we managed to catch up with Michaela Lewis over at Domo.
Can you tell us a bit about your current role?
I am a Senior Manager in Customer Success at Domo and am currently helping to establish UK operations and grow the Customer Success team for EMEA. Domo is a next generation BI platform that empowers business managers with real time data so they can make faster, more informed decisions. Domo is one of the fastest growing SaaS companies in the market, so I’m hugely excited to be part of their European expansion.
How did you get to this point in your career?
I started my career as a Sales Executive in a start-up; a collaboration software company called Huddle. Despite being unsure about whether sales would be a good fit for me, I was energized by the competitive environment and it proved to be a very solid foundation for my commercial career in Tech. Sales taught me to how to motivate people, build compelling business cases, and to be a tenacious problem solver, even when you feel you’ve exhausted all other possible avenues. After three years in Sales, I transitioned into Customer Success at Huddle to renew and grow our strategic customers. As the business continued to grow, I progressed into a leadership role, heading up a team of 12 customer success agents 18 months later.
What have been some of the key influences that have helped shape your journey?
I have been extremely fortunate to have so many positive influences in my life, both professionally and personally. My dad and older brother started their own companies in their 20s, and gave me my first taste of business when I helped out in school holidays. Their work ethic and advice to aim high inspired me to challenge myself professionally.
My mum was a successful lecturer and gave me constant encouragement and the confidence to believe in myself. A great example of this was when I was presented the opportunity to move into a management role at a relatively early stage in my career.
At work, I was mentored by Huddle’s Chief People Officer, Ann Marie Cooper, who was a fantastic female role model. She coached me in management, taught me to ask for what I deserve and encouraged me to take on as much responsibility as I could handle. I also sought guidance from our Finance Director, who educated me on the financial workings of a growing SaaS business. Although this didn’t directly relate to my role, it still helps me with my day to day decision making on what is most important for the long term health of a business.
Lastly, I’m also very fortunate to have a partner who works in the same industry and is hugely supportive. He showed me the importance of developing a strong network of support at work and taught me the difference between leadership and management.
What are your plans for the future?
In the short to medium term, I’m going to focus on building a strong and successful Customer Success (CS) team at Domo. I am hugely passionate about CS and Technology and would eventually like to progress into a global leadership position.
Do you have heroes and influencers either professionally or personally?
And why are they important to you?
Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In made a big impact on me. Before I read her book, I didn’t really appreciate the challenges women face when climbing the career ladder. Her practical advice has helped me to feel more confident putting myself forward for new opportunities and understand how to better support women who work in my team.
I owe a lot to my secondary school, Sydenham High. The school places a lot of emphasis on providing a secure environment for girls to not only excel academically but to indulge their passions and become happy, well rounded women. When I joined Sydenham I wasn’t a hugely confident child, but I left feeling I could achieve whatever I wanted to.
What hints/tips/advice would you give others in your field?
Put yourself forward for opportunities for which you don’t feel completely ready yet. When I moved into management, I didn’t feel fully qualified or experienced enough for the role, but putting myself outside my comfort zone was the best thing I ever did. Feel comfortable with learning on the job, it’s often the best way to improve.
Be positive, passionate and solution orientated. I’ve always been amazed with what can be achieved when you tackle problems with the right attitude. Of course, everyone is human and we all have bad days but when it happens, simply acknowledge that is what’s happening, recognize those feelings will pass and start afresh the next day.
When you work in a competitive, fast moving and highly changeable environment it’s easy to become overwhelmed with your responsibilities. When prioritizing, try and remember to whom you are accountable – your manager, your team, your customers – and it becomes easier to block out all the other noise.
What makes you really happy? Your children? Cats or other quirky pets?
Walks on the beach? A lovely cup of coffee or maybe just a really well organised spreadsheet! We’d love to know a bit more about YOU.
I enjoy keeping active by playing tennis or netball or taking part in events like Tough Mudder. I love speaking and learning French and go to the south of France each year with my dad to keep up the language.
Travelling, reading and running are my other passions but I don’t think I’m happier than when I’m at home snuggled up watching Coronation Street with my family and a good cup of tea.
Thanks so much Michaela. There are some really great tips here and interesting that you should pick out Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In – Ranjit likes that book too.