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Top 10 CHATalyst Conversations of 2022

The best guests and the best conversations for 2022!
Patrick Icasas
March 10, 2022

What is CHATalyst? 

CHATalyst is Catalyst’s online publication, dedicated to interviewing Customer Success professionals who hold every role, specialty, background, and experience level in an organization. We've had some great conversations since we launched in mid-2022, and we wanted to share some of the greatest hits with you. 

In no particular order, we have: 

How I Became a Voice for D&I in Tech - Kalina Bryant 

Kalina Bryant is the head of Customer Advocacy at Asana and the founder of UnapologeTECH, a podcast and blog series which works on an education-first approach to changing the face of business with the goal of a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment. As a platform, UnapologeTECH also offers trainings to ensure BIPOC women and other underrepresented groups are set up for success when entering the tech industry - how to navigate, seek allies, and how to ensure long-term success. 

“With UnapologeTECH, I’m trying to make sure we have more representation and diversity, but also more opportunities for us to have a better world, said Bryant. “I want to make sure that you can have a positive, happy, and fulfilling career.” 

For leaders and founders who want to get involved with Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) initiatives, Kalina has this advice - Be honest about why you’re supporting these initiatives, and ensure you’re engaging for the right reasons. Whether you’re a corporation or an individual, being an ally is a long-term commitment. 


How I Turned Project Management and Customer Success into Perfect Partners - Rochelle Shearlds 

Rochelle Shearlds is the Director of Global Customer Success at Medrio, an e-clinical technology provider based in San Francisco. She sat down with Catalyst to talk about how to navigate potential differences and conflict between project management and customer success roles. 

Project management typically has a more clearly defined route to success, and how to measure that success. The CSM role, by contrast, is newer and still evolving. “It can be a really fluid role, which is a stark contrast to project management, which is pretty black and white,” said Shearlds. So, how do you get the two sides working as a cohesive unit with coordinated goals? 

Defining clear roles and responsibilities, aligning leadership, and mapping out the customer journey help bridge the gap between the two departments. Understanding where each team adds value to the customer journey is the first step to overcoming obstacles between them. 


How to Run a CS Community During a Pandemic - Anika Zubair

Anika Zubair is the VP of Customer Success at InSided, a Customer Success software solution, and the founder of CSM LDN, a community for Customer Success Managers in London.

One thing Anika hopes is that her insights can help other people looking to build community to scale up their groups faster. One regret she has is not becoming more niche sooner: “I’ve noticed other CS communities end up just covering it all. Like, all CS topics. That’s really broad and makes it hard to find the right content or the right speakers - or even the right audience.” 

Anika shared with us her approach for keeping engagement going during COVID, what activities she facilitates in the group, what she would do differently if she started a group today, the ideal time to start a community, and the common mistakes people make when forming a group. 

Read more >> 

I Kept My Spark at Work (and You Can, Too) - Nicole Sherwin

Nicole Sherwin is the Vice President of Customer Success at EcoVadis, and she prides herself on retaining her enthusiasm for work wherever she goes. She believes you don’t have to forfeit the passion that sparked your career - instead, you should connect to it and let it drive you. 

“I always make sure that I follow my spark, my joy, and whatever makes me glow,” said Sherwin. “The path forward can be very uncertain, but you always have to be curious and keep your doors open.” 

In the interview, Nicole offers her perspective and how she makes a decision when a role no longer fits ideels, how to keep enthusiasm rolling, and what can be learned from…less than idea opportunities. 

Read more >> 

My Journey from CSM to VP of Customer Success - Krystal Lamoureux 

Krystal Lamoureux is the VP of Customer Success at Credly, a platform that issues and manages digital credentials. Digital badges can be used to help potential employers verify skills, knowledge, and abilities. 

One thing Krystal prides herself on is her ability to build an incredible team: “I learned early on that it’s important to hire people who are smarter than you, because then all you have to do is empower them to do what they’re passionate about, and you get incredible results.” 

Krystal went from being a CSM to the VP by thinking about the bigger picture. She prioritized the accomplishments of her team, demonstrated leadership ability, and stayed focused on her career goals. Our chat with her covered some tips for folks who may want to follow the same path. 


How to Leverage Customer Intimacy for Success - Mary Poppen

Mary Poppen is the Chief Customer Officer at Glint, a People Success Platform that works to increase employee engagement, thereby improving business results. Mary asserts that customers can tell whether employees enjoy where they work, and sense the authenticity of their sentiments. 

“...When you have both of these--high employee engagement and high customer satisfaction–,” said Poppen, “you have a spiral of positivity, referenceability and growth. You can feel it in a company. You just know when employees are excited about what they do.” 

In her CHATalyst session, Mary shared the two ingredients that make up the secret sauce for a good customer relationship - customer intimacy and contagious enthusiasm. For all of her advice on how to instill and nurture this enthusiasm, you’ll have to read the rest of the interview. 

Read more >> 

How Early Stage Startups Can Get Set Up for Customer Success - Cassie Young 

Cassie Young is one of the operating partners at the Primary Venture Partners’ Portfolio Impact Program. In our CHATalyst interview, Cassie shares some gems on how to set up a customer success strategy for the best possible outcome. 

“Our job is to do what a CS organization would do,” said Young, “which is to be a proactive extension of the portfolio companies’ teams and understand the unique objectives of their businesses.” 

When pitching, Cassie wants you to put your best customers up front and make them available to be contacted by investors. She believes talking to customers should be a part of your daily routine. Cassie has also seen customer success (and failure) from just about every possible angle. 


What Coaching CSMs has Taught Me About CS and Myself - Leona Leong 

Leona Leong is the Director of Customer Experience at Coconut Software. When she started in CS, Leona wasn’t given much direction; instead, she had to jump right in. While she believes CS is a rewarding profession where people from all different backgrounds can start and thrive, she does have tips for being successful in the field.

“There are frameworks on how to conduct discovery conversations and what to ask, but at the end of the day it’s just being truly curious about the customer contact you’re working with, their company, that individual’s specific career goals, and tying that all back together,” said Leong. 

During our CHATalyst interview, Leona emphasized being curious, having a thirst for learning, gaining confidence in the role, and also shared about the openness she has experienced in the CS community. 

Read more >> 

How to Transition into Customer Success - Diana De Jesus 

Diana De Jesus is a Customer Success Manager at Catalyst. She’s also the CEO of her house, a full-time mom, and a content creator. Diana isn’t afraid to carve her own path, and in her CHATalyst session, she talked about how to transition into Customer Success from an outside field. 

If you don’t have experience that is relevant to land a job, Diana doesn’t want you to worry. Instead, you can create your own experience: “When I looked around, I realized that that was exactly what [some friends from marketing] had done. They created podcasts and had guests talk about their experiences, and in so doing absorbed it and made it their own.”  Creating content is a great way to be found by recruiters. 

Diana also wants people to stop playing the numbers game - think quality over quantity when it comes to your network and the value exchanged within it. Start by joining communities and attending events that appeal to you, and organically build your personal circles. 


How I Went from Screw Gun Operator to VP of CS - Maranda Dziekonski 

Maranda Dziekonski is the Chief Customer Officer and interim Head of People Ops at Swiftly, a large data platform for public transit, offering behind-the scenes analytics and real-time passenger information to the transit industry. 

Maranda had an unconventional route to CS, but she did it by keeping her options open: “When someone comes to me and asks if I want to learn how to do something like build out a training infrastructure, I would say yes without hesitation. Then someone else would come in and ask if I wanted to learn a different task - and I would also say yes!”  

She doesn’t want people to be so focused on goals that they miss out on potential opportunities that arise. Maranda also stressed the importance of proactivity, gaining experience and building relationships, and asking for advice on how to make the next step in your career trajectory. 


Interested in reading more interviews with top CS professionals? Read CHATalyst now!

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