How I Built a Team From Scratch at a Software Company

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Photo Courtesy of Veeam Software

Photo Courtesy of Veeam Software

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“I took a risk and became a Customer Success Manager – and I haven’t looked back, my company and I share the same values.”

When a former colleague of Joan Mealey reached out to her about joining the Customer Success team she was building at Veeam Software, Mealey did not pass up the opportunity. What really sold Mealey on the offer was Veeam’s product offerings and the company culture, and that she’d get to work with her old colleague again.

In a recent interview with Fairygodboss, Mealey shares her career growth at Veeam and how she built a team from scratch, while keeping the company’s values at the forefront.

The new Customer Success (CS) team at Veeam Software quickly proved itself to be an essential part of the business. The CS team’s job is to ensure client satisfaction and an exceptional customer experience. Oftentimes, clients are left on their own after a sale to implement their products, which can be overwhelming since packages have various features. The Customer Success Manager’s (CSM) job is to understand what their clients’ definition of success is and help them achieve it. They make sure clients understand how to use their products, and most importantly ensure they retain those clients – which means, making sure that customers renew their contracts at the end of their program, and become references for Veeam Software.

In order to be successful as a CSM, Mealey says you must first be empathetic, want to help people and be genuinely interested in helping clients solve their pain points. “We'd run into all kinds of issues and nobody knew how to solve them. There wasn't a department for it. There wasn't a procedure for it. So, you have to be very creative and you have to be persistent.” said Mealey.

As excited as she was when she first came into her new role, the initial challenge was selling the idea of the team internally, especially since the customer success role was in its infancy and most within Veeam didn’t understand the role or the value CS can add. But,“like anything, it’s a good challenge” said Mealey. Fast forward to three years later, the Customer Success team is now a team of 20 and the subject matter expert for customers — and Mealey couldn't be more proud of the progress they’ve made within the company internally, as well as the customers they’ve helped along the way. 

Speaking of the leadership at the company, Mealey says her direct manager is supportive of anything she wants to do – crazy ideas included. “He'll tell me when he doesn't think it's a good idea, but he'll also say ‘Go for it." says Mealey. As to her own definition of leadership, Mealey believes you are constantly evolving as a leader, as you face the various situations that come up and learn how to handle them.

When you transition from an individual contributor to a manager, your focus changes from yourself to the team. “My job is to make sure that everyone on the team has what they need to do their job, and is successful, and to remove any barriers from them.”

As someone who was part of a newly built team, Mealey knows the importance of diversity and has ingrained diversity practices into her leadership style. “We have different people lead the meetings each week and you see their personalities come out. Not only are they a part of the meeting, but they're leading the meeting, so you get to see what's important to them.” says Mealey.

This commitment to diversity is something that Veeam takes very seriously, which is why it’s given Mealey the platform she needs to make sure everyone has a voice. That’s what makes the company Distinctly Veeam – offering opportunities to share differences and be better, together.

The same thing applies to mentorship, “I think you have to pick some mentors or some role models that you can learn from. You know only as much as you know, and then to learn other things from people that you see doing amazing jobs. Like the person I followed to Veeam, she's an amazing manager and I've picked up a lot of what I do from her.” says Mealey.

When asked about career highlights, Mealey recalls two key moments where she's taken risks. The first one was when she worked as an engineer at a startup and the owner promoted her to Sales Engineer, to which she said, "Absolutely not. I want nothing to do with being in sales." But shortly after, she realized it was a “phenomenal job”. The second one was joining Veeam, growing a team and getting the recognition they deserve. “I'm not sure people understand quite how good they are and all the value they add. They work with the largest customers we have, and I can tell you some of those customers wouldn't be here today if it weren't for this team.” said Mealey.

Mealey also offers some advice to anyone who is looking to progress in their career and recommends that people be confident in themselves and not be afraid to fail. “You either stay where you are, or you force yourself to step outside of where you're comfortable. I think you have to be willing to do that and you have to have people that are going to support you.” she says.

 Veeam values learning and training and wants its employees to succeed – and offers them an array of courses across the board, such as IT Operations, Management, Sales, Marketing, and many more. Employees also have access to leadership courses and employees are encouraged to outsource any external courses they may be interested in that aren’t within Veeam’s offerings. Mealey, who is no stranger to creating opportunities for growth, had this to say: “I feel like that's really up to me. I feel like the opportunities are there if I want to take advantage of them.” 


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