Are you a Customer Success Manager (CSM), Customer Success Operations (CS Ops) team member, or just someone with a penchant for processes and systems that are just beautifully elegant and effective? Are you wondering what’s next on your career trajectory and how to get there?
We’ve got some answers to these questions for you.
We’re bringing you five career stories from Gainsight Admins — new, expert- and management-level, and everything in between — who are developing in their careers by using technology to benefit their teams, their companies, and their customers.
We interviewed five Admins (see the table below) and summarized key insights they offered about building a career as a Gainsight Admin. Watch their short interview videos, too, to hear them describe their journeys from their very first jobs as teenagers to their transition into a Gainsight Administrator role. Find out what their motivations for taking on the job were, what first steps they took toward doing so, and what the skills they brought from other roles that were key to their success in the Gainsight Admin role.
These Admins offer sound advice and encouragement for anyone considering a career as a Gainsight Administrator and describe what aspects of the job they find most rewarding.
Meet our five Gainsight Administrators:
Prior Experience and First Steps Towards the Role
Many Gainsight Admins move into the role after working in CS Ops or as a CSM. Often the move from a Customer Success team into the Gainsight Admin role is the result of ad hoc administrative duties that the CSM has taken on within their team.
While he was a CSM, Ben became “an unofficial admin” as he increasingly worked with data, systems, and reporting. Because Ben was able to leverage different tools like Excel and Salesforce in an advanced capacity and because he loves data, he excelled in his ad-hoc CSM admin role. Eventually, he says, “The team looked to me to generate reports for them because we had no separate reporting team. I was pulling reports and filtering for specific CSMs and helping them to interpret the results. So it was almost like I was playing a cross-functional role, but I was making sure to take care of my clients too.”
Ben’s progression into the Gainsight Admin role was thus a natural one because, “Having been a CSM, I knew the processes that irritated me most in my day-to-day that I wanted to improve upon…I knew all the processes. I could talk to the CSM team and develop Gainsight.”
Are you currently engaged in a lot of administrative work in your CSM role and want to learn how those skills transfer into the Gainsight Admin role? Check out Ben’s story of transitioning from a CSM to Gainsight Admin.
Victoria Barry had a similar experience to Ben. She was a CSM that ended up managing a customer database, doing things manually using spreadsheets and email. Eventually, her managers made the move to implement Gainsight. Because she had been managing customer data and related processes, she was tapped for the Admin role.
Katie Baker’s path to Gainsight administration was a little different. Workiva had just completed its initial Gainsight implementation when it posted a position called a Digital and Tech-Touch CSM. Katie applied for the role as did another CSM. In the end, they were both hired as Gainsight Admins because neither was a perfect fit for the role– but together they would be, as Katie describes, “a deadly combination.”
Given that she did not have all the requisite skills, Katie’s first step towards her new role was to take on a single special project. She feels that this was a great way to ease into her new job situation, especially given that her company was new to Gainsight.
Not everyone starts their Gainsight Admin career as a prior CSM. Sometimes the role presents itself as an exciting career opportunity for someone who has a keen interest in systems, like Patrick McCrudden.
“No one was an expert in the field. If anyone was going to do it, why not me?”
Several months ago, Patrick was at a crossroads in his career. He was working as a digital tech-touch CSM, primarily working on email campaigns, and was pondering whether he wanted to go into a CS Ops role or a high-touch CSM role. At that point, he had gained some exposure to Gainsight’s Journey Orchestrator and knew some low-level Rules. When he had a conversation with his managers about career options he expressed interest in Gainsight.
A couple of months later when the Gainsight Admin at Imperva suddenly left, Patrick’s managers offered him the opportunity. He recalls, “I was very fortunate to be given the opportunity, to take my interest in the role, and kind of go with it. I was dropped in the deep end and told to go with it.”
Hear from Patrick how working bar and IT support jobs taught him how to see things from a customer perspective and ultimately led to becoming a Gainsight Admin nearly overnight. P.S. you’ll love his accent.
Depending on Skills from Previous Jobs
What does being a teenage lifeguard, working in a tourist attraction, or in IT support have to do with being a Gainsight Admin? Believe it or not, those roles can prepare you for a future in Gainsight administration.
Katie Baker believes that her first job experience as a lifeguard gave her a key skillset for her current job – learning how to work in the “controlled chaos that is operations.” She explains, “Anyone that has ever worked in operations knows that it’s not necessarily a case of if there’s going to be a chaotic moment, but when. That calm-under-pressure training from my lifeguard days definitely comes into play in my role.”
Hear how Katie’s extensive career journey, including a stint as a Gainsight Admin, landed her a CS Ops Senior Manager role here.
In a similar vein, Jessica Palmer describes how her career in operations began with her first job at age 14, when she worked as a tour guide in a house that was tilted. The house was a tourist attraction offering an experience meant to educate people on how we perceive things. Jessica recalls, “I had to tell people about what it was they were seeing and I had to interact with people and learn about their experiences as well. That’s customer success right there in a nutshell.” She says the role helped her learn to deal with uncomfortable and ambiguous situations, a skill she still uses in her job today.
Many Gainsight Admins like Jessica come in with a skill that she calls “an operations mindset.” Even though her previous professional jobs were not operations-specific roles Jessica explains, “I’ve always led my roles and responsibilities with operations. It’s just where I like to live.” Eventually, this mindset led her into more formal operations roles including as a Gainsight Admin.
Are you someone with an operations mindset who would like to know how it applies to the Gainsight Admin role? You’ll like Jessica Palmer’s story.
Likewise, Victoria brought what she calls her “process-focused mind” to her Gainsight Admin job. In all her previous roles she focused on the processes first and then would make sure she had the tools to meet the process requirements.
The Most Rewarding Aspects of the Admin Job
These five Gainsight Admins consistently declare the most rewarding aspect of the role to be, in a word, “impact.”
Ben describes it as, “being able to connect my activities with the company’s overall long-term growth objectives,” adding, “I am proud of what I have done for our professional services team. I see how it aligns with our overall company goals. Recognition from leadership is always nice, too.”
Katie Baker explains, “Our ops team is in the middle of everything. We are helping to roll out strategies and processes used every single day by our CSM and front-line workers. But it goes all the way up to our CEO and our board of directors. They are getting reports that are generated by our team. The processes that we’ve implemented impact their decisions.”
Another rewarding aspect these Gainsight Admins highlight is their ability to help teams to become more efficient. Victoria describes it as, “seeing the light bulbs go off when we simplify a process.”
Advice to Those Considering a Gainsight Career
All the Gainsight Admins offer thoughtful and enthusiastic words of wisdom for anyone considering a move into this role. Here are a few of their recommendations.
“Here I am six months later and it’s probably been the best decision of my career.”
Actively seek opportunities to step up into the role.
Ben first got his feet wet as a Gainsight Admin when he shadowed the Salesforce Administrator at his company and then served as the interim administrator while that person was on vacation.
Patrick suggests that, if you currently have a Gainsight Administrator, go and sit with them for a while, perhaps learning to work through a few tasks and helping with low-level issues. He suggests too that you give management an early heads up that you’re potentially interested in the role. Then start the process of educating yourself a bit more on Gainsight.
Break the transition down into bite-size pieces.
Several Admins recommend easing into the role, learning bit by bit, rather than diving in headfirst and taking on the whole job at once.
Speaking from long-term experience, Victoria advises, “Break it down into small pieces. Don’t try to conquer the world. Gainsight is a pretty robust tool that lends itself to a lot of complexity. It’s growing every day and you don’t have to know it all.”
Hear some words of wisdom about how to break down the role of a Gainsight Admin from one of the longest-tenured Gainsight Administrators, Victoria Barry.
Katie Baker, who took on a special project suggests this is especially possible in situations where the company is new to Gainsight. She recalls, “This was all brand new to my company. No one was an expert in the field. If anyone was going to do it, why not me?” She adds that in her career she has always sought out roles that were very roughly defined, where she was left to figure it out and mold herself gradually into the position.
Ben, Victoria, and Jessica all suggest taking a first-level Gainsight Admin course while you are in your prior role to gain a little more knowledge. Ben reasons that if you can understand reporting you can start getting insights out of the data and that is a great first step.
Be comfortable with not having all the requisite skills.
As mentioned, Katie Baker took on the Admin role without having all the necessary skills and knowledge, but that didn’t hinder her success. She suggests, “Don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst and be willing to take on something new and figure it out.”
Patrick describes having a similar mindset when his manager asked him if he wanted the Gainsight Admin role. He thought to himself, “This is probably the best opportunity you’re ever going to get. Grab it with both hands and go with it. The worst thing that will happen is you’ll struggle and you ask for help. There’s so many people that can help you if you get stuck, so let’s just try it and see what happens.”
Victoria too recommends asking a lot of questions and making a concerted effort to learn and understand what user teams need. Her advice is, “The more the team sees you understanding and wanting to understand things, the more they will help you and come to you for help.”
This brings us to the next piece of advice.
Ask for help.
At Workiva, Katie eventually realized that the more removed she and her CS Ops teammates became from the customer-facing role, the more help they would need from others to find relevant information and pain points. So she developed an internal team called the Gainsight Task Force that works on special projects with CS Ops. Involving others in helping her Gainsight team has benefited the team as it grows. She has been able to hire new team members from within who have experience with Gainsight through their work on the task force.
Patrick suggests that a lot of help can be found digging into the information that’s out there, such as the Gainsight community. He suggests reading through a lot of the Gainsight documentation and watching as many training videos as possible. He uses the Gainsight Admin Slack community often to get help because, “Nearly always, somebody has asked the same question or tried to do the same things and has that experience already. You can save yourself a lot of time this way.”
Figure out if you are an operations person.
Both Victoria and Jessica describe their passion for operations and processes as making them naturals for the Gainsight Admin role, even without prior CSM-specific experience. Katie Baker concurs. As a Senior Manager, she does a lot of interviewing and hiring into her CS Ops team. She says that it’s clear from interviews if a candidate has the required operations mindset for the role.
Katie recommends to anyone considering a Gainsight Admin career, “Figure out if operations and that day-to-day work is really what you want to do, or, if you are just looking for something different than, say, your current CSM role. Having the mentality that ‘I don’t care what the challenge is, I am going to figure it out’ is something that is definitely necessary on our team, and I assume everyone’s else’s team too.”
The Bottom Line
As our five Administrator career stories demonstrate, the road to becoming a Gainsight Administrator is varied. There are some common themes, however, such as the need to have a passion for operations and processes, the mindset that you will figure it out and learn on the job, and the desire to make a demonstrable impact across teams and a company.
Put all those together and start seeking out opportunities in the field and you may end up like Patrick, saying, “Here I am six months later and it’s probably been the best decision of my career.”