An Air Traffic Controller finding his way to Customer Success at Cisco
My early career as an Air Traffic Controller:
I fell in love with aviation at a young age and I knew it was one of the industries I wanted to work in. Later on, since the age of 15, I dreamt of becoming an Air Traffic Controller. At the age of 18 and after completing my high school studies, I finally decided to join the Air Traffic Management world.
Having joined the academy, everything seemed to be around getting us ready to do the real job. A couple of simulators mixed with classroom and study time culminating in a number of practical, written, and verbal assessments. It was definitely a job that kept me on my toes as there was no such thing as a ‘bad’ air traffic controller – you either make it or you don’t.
I enjoyed working as an Air Traffic Controller for over 6 years until the last moment I had to say goodbye to my team to join my family in Poland. Three lessons learned from this experience:
- Taking off is more difficult than landing
- Teamwork always leads to greater outcomes
- You have to be ready for anything
The transition from an Air Traffic controller to Customer Success roles:
First of all, I can’t deny the fact that the customer success process flow is very similar to the ATC world:
Taking off (Onboarding) En-route (Adoption) Landing (Value Realization)
I first joined Cisco in 2016 as a Virtual Customer Sucess Manager and my main role was to ensure our customers achieve their business outcomes by mapping their processes and needs to product capability and solution areas. Having come from the aviation industry, this was the biggest career change I faced yet, but I soon realized it was the best possible decision. Here’s why:
Work-Life Balance: I am now able to organize my time in a way that allows me to spend more quality time with my family. My job enables me to enjoy my other passions in life.
Culture and Collaboration: Many companies want to break down their silos, but Cisco fights against silos. We create a family environment where everybody is there for each other, shares the same vision, and is dedicated to the mission. Every single day, I have the chance to work with professionals across the globe, build relationships and learn new things. Furthermore, we are equipped with the right tools and environment to ensure a good experience and outcomes while working from home. We also have the opportunity to take part in different internal social activities which are always a great bonding and team-building exercise.
Innovation: I have complete and absolute autonomy over my responsibilities which enables me to innovate and get full support to turn my ideas into something real.
Continuous learning and development: I always have full support from management to keep learning and exploring new things. Recently I had the opportunity to attend interesting industry courses and achieve a couple of certifications including but not limited to Customer Success Management, Project Management or communication skills. However, my learning journey did not stop there and achieving certifications is not the main goal. Since the industry is evolving so fast and its focus compass is changing accordingly, what we learn today might not be valid for tomorrow. Thus, keeping an eye on the industry updates became critical. Achieving the Cisco DevNet Professional Certification was one of my major recent accomplishments. I really enjoyed learning about Cisco APIs, Cisco’s programmability strategy, security and network ops.
Five years after first joining Cisco, I’m still here. In 2019, I changed roles and joined Cisco’s Customer Experience Center Lisbon as a Portfolio Activation Specialist (PAS) and my task is to onboard customers to their enterprise agreements. I currently see myself as an Air traffic Controller for the taking-off phase. This is a very strategic role as a positive onboarding experience confirms to our customers that they made the right choice. It also, ultimately, helps us retain them. The daily mission is to create a seamless customer experience from the very first touchpoint by providing an exceptional customized customer onboarding.
How we onboard our new customers sets the tone for our ongoing relationship with them. Furthermore, Onboarding our customers is imperative and considered as the main gate to other lifecycle activities.
As a Portfolio Activation Specialist, my mission is to educate customers on the Enterprise Agreements foundations prior to pursuing technical adoption in each of the suites. I connect customer goals to offer functionality in order to accelerate customer value and ensure they get maximum benefits out of their Enterprise Agreement.
What is an Enterprise Agreement? The Cisco Enterprise Agreement (EA) is a buying program that helps organizations buy, consume, and manage Cisco technology through an agreement with unified terms and conditions.
For further information about the Cisco Enterprise Agreement and its benefits, please check the following official Cisco Documents:
- Enterprise Agreements FAQ
- Enterprise Agreements At a Glance
- Cisco Enterprise Agreement – ESG Economic Value Validation