Meet Sarah Facini! We chat all things Customer Success - but also about vulnerable moments, hiring and onboarding during COVID-19 and the power of transferable skills.
What or who inspired you to pursue a career in Customer Success or tech?
I wasn’t pursuing a career in Customer Success - it just happened. I find that’s a common story with a lot of people! My background is in the not-for-profit space, and when I was moving back to Ontario I was convinced by someone I knew to chat with Mark Opauszky, the previous CEO of PathFactory. At first I thought the tech industry wasn’t for me, but after that chat, I was interested but still apprehensive. I chatted with my father and he suggested I give it a try, and said I’d always wonder “what if” if I passed this up. My father knows me pretty well, so I knew he was right. I took the change and jumped into tech. I worked with Mark for a number of years, and if anyone gets credit for convincing me to pursue a career in tech, it’s him. It’s crazy how a casual lunch translated into a job opportunity. The first 8 months sucked - I wanted out - but then everything changed, and the rest is history. Here I am a decade later.
Can you tell us about a moment when you really felt that you could bring your authentic self to work?
Early in the pandemic, my partner and I struggled with juggling schedules with our toddler. We set up a regimented schedule - I had her the first two hours, then my partner, and so on. One day I had to speak to the whole company as part of the all-hands meeting. I set my toddler up with the iPad thinking I would speak for just 3 minutes, and could be on mute before and after. Of course, mid my 3-minute presentation, my toddler had an incident and got upset, and I had to literally put myself back on mute, handle it, and then come back. I was completely mortified. I felt unprofessional in my new leadership role, in front of the entire company. But the aftermath was impressive - members of my team reached out to me and thanked me for being real and human. Now that experience is more normalized, so maybe I broke the seal there. Experiences like that helped us grow as a company and team, struggling through the day to day of juggling work and life.
How do you integrate people with transferable skill sets into tech companies?
The pandemic is doing something interesting to hiring and recruitment. If I look at my recent searches, there’s a hunger, excitement and demonstration of willingness to go above and beyond that I’ve never seen before. It’s almost intimidating, to be honest! I’m like, “Wow, you put this whole thing together for me” - I was expecting a couple paragraphs in a regular, old Word doc. Instead, I’m getting these beautiful PDFs - people are going above and beyond. As well, remote work took a traditionally localized search and increased competition. If someone is really excited about a position, they need to stand out - the regular resume and cover letter approach isn’t working anymore. What I want out of these applications is to understand their story, their personality, and to get a sense of what they can contribute - especially if I’m hiring someone halfway around the world! I’m still trying to figure it out: I’m breaking all the rules, messing up along the way - but it’s exciting nonetheless. We’re doing things differently, iterating, and we’ll come out with a strong and impressive team by the end of it.