My Journey From CSM to VP of Customer Success

Krystal Lamoureux
VP of Customer Success

Interview Highlights:

  • Management means thinking beyond your own accomplishments and prioritizing the accomplishments of the team
  • If you want to be promoted, demonstrate leadership ability even in your current position
  • Talk to your manager about your career goals so they can help you build towards it

Can you please introduce yourself and what you do?

I’m Krystal Lamoureux, and I’m currently the VP of Customer Success at Credly. Credly is a platform that allows you to issue and manage digital credentials. Organizations use digital badges for a variety of achievements to provide a simple way for potential employers to verify knowledge and skills and abilities. 

I lead the amazing customer success managers who work directly with those organizations from the initial onboarding, all the way to renewal. We love to educate our customers and provide them with the guidance and expertise that they need to succeed and meet their goals. 

What has your career been like up to this point?

I got into Credly by way of acquisition. I was CSM number two at a company called Pearson back in 2016. I was working on a product called Acclaim at the time. That product and our team were acquired by Credly about two years after I started. 

That was a really big transition, because suddenly we had two of everything. We had two product teams, two customer success teams, and it meant we had to learn how to work with people that were our competitors on Thursday, and our colleagues on Friday. We had to learn how to work together to create a cohesive experience for our customers. 

Less than a year later, I was promoted to Director of Customer Success. And it was at that point that I was given the opportunity to build out the team, and that was my first time ever managing people, hiring, and training a team. I had a lot to learn, but it’s been really, really rewarding to build this fantastic team of CSMs. They’re actually referred to as “Team Awesome” internally at Credly, just because they’re so incredible. 

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. 

Then 2020 happened. Our team came together beautifully. They collaborated, they innovated where we needed to, they supported one another, and at the end of the year, I was promoted to my current role of VP of Customer Success. 

We’re currently in the process of segmenting our team and promoting from within to fill a couple of management positions. It’s really exciting for me because I get to develop new managers and watch them and their teams flourish. 

What kind of challenges were you encountering as a new manager?

It’s difficult to move from an individual contributor to a people manager. I don’t know if that move is really well understood unless you’ve actually made it yourself. A lot of people assume that if you’re good at a role, then you’ll be good at managing others in this role. But it’s so much more than that. 

For me, it was no longer about what I accomplish as an individual. It becomes more about what your team is able to accomplish. They can’t do it unless you’re doing your job well. So when you’re building and managing a team, you have to see at a really high level what’s working and what’s not working. You have to see where you’re headed so you can steer things in the right direction, but you still have to be able to get down at the individual level with your team. 

My big challenge was knowing what to prioritize. I was still learning how to be a manager, but I also kept a subset of my own customers. So I was constantly switching between CSM-related duties and team-related duties. It was always tough to switch between who I needed to be at each particular point throughout the day. 

Were there any other challenges?

Trusting myself to make decisions. When you’re making decisions for yourself, usually it’s just you that’s impacted. But when you’re making decisions that impact others, they suddenly feel a lot bigger. So I relied on my managers to guide me. At some point, my previous manager said that we had to take the training wheels off and see how far I could go on my own. I think he did a really good job of leading me to ask the right questions.

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At what point did you feel you were able to tackle the challenges better?

There was a point where I felt that my group and I had hit our stride. We were really gelling well together as a team. My management style is very hands-off. I don’t micromanage. I like to empower my team to do what they do well. 

I see myself as somebody who removes blockers whenever possible. I was able to see what they were able to accomplish when I didn’t get in the way. My job is to look at them and see where I can remove known issues, so that they can do their work.

In your opinion, what made you promotion material?

Honestly, I think timing was a big factor in my particular case. I came in so early when we were still building the foundation of our process. And because I came in when we were so small, I was able to really integrate myself into so many different aspects of the business. Heck, I was even involved in pre-sales activities. 

So I got to know the sales team and what they were doing. I was doing onboarding. I was developing those frameworks and playbooks and even end-user support. So as we grew and added more people to our team, I had a strong foundation and a lot of knowledge. But I never lost my willingness to get my hands dirty, for better or worse. Even before I was promoted, I was looking for ways to nurture and develop my team - like implementing book clubs to learn and discuss together. 

I actively try to empower the people around me to do amazing things together. My favorite phrase is “elevate, uplift, and empower.” That’s my role. My goal with my team is to elevate them, uplift them, and empower them to do their jobs. 

As a VP, what do you look for when considering people for promotion?

You know that saying, “dress for the job you want, not for the job you have?” Leadership roles are given to people who are already showing leadership qualities. If you want your boss to see you as somebody capable, you have to show them glimpses of leadership capability in the work you’re already doing. 

It doesn’t mean that you take over or boss people around. But you take ownership, raise your hand, and ask the “why” questions. Try to understand the reason you’re doing things from your boss’ perspective. 

Also, bring data to the conversation. Anecdotes are fine, but it’s really hard to argue with you when you have hard data to back up your points. Show me the numbers. Show me how you can back up what you’re saying. 

Talk to your manager about your career goals, too. It’s important for them to know what you want to do. I think of it as being a CSM for my own team. I’m responsible for knowing what their goals and career aspirations are. If I don’t know what their goals are, then I don’t know if I’m successful in helping them improve and develop the skills that they need.

About 
Credly

Credly is helping the world speak a common language about people’s knowledge, skills, and abilities. Thousands of employers, training organizations, associations, certification programs, and workforce development initiatives use Credly to help individuals translate their learning experiences into professional opportunities using trusted, portable, digital credentials.

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