Where are you originally from?
I am originally from the Philippines. I came to New Zealand in 2016. I decided to move to New Zealand because it has a high standard of living. And also, the Lord of the Rings was shot here, and I thought it was a beautiful country.
How long have you been working at Comet Backup?
Since April – so just coming up to ten months now.
What attracted you to Comet and the Customer Success role?
Before joining Comet Backup, I was an Onboarding Executive at an online eCommerce retailer. I moved to the Technical Support team with that company just before I spotted the role at Comet backup. The job description looked really interesting, and I was attracted to the variety within the role. It sounded like no two days were going to be the same.
What is the scope of the Customer Success role at Comet?
To summarise the role in one sentence, I'm responsible for all non-technical customer communications and new customer enquires pricing inquiries. Facilitate the "next steps," getting them in touch with the Technical team, understanding their requirements for backup software and ensuring that's communicated to the wider team so that the rest of the team understands the potential customer's requirements.
What was it that appealed to you about Comet's culture?
When I interviewed with my now manager, one of the statements he made up front was that Comet doesn't hire jerks! They only employ nice people – I felt that was a big claim; it's hard to gauge a person's character before hiring. Comet isn't just interested in 'talent.' There is a focus on building a culture of cooperation and team building. I thought that sounded like a really promising company culture, and I wanted to be part of that. Also, it was made clear to me that I would be able to learn, explore and possibly make mistakes – that was all allowed at Comet Backup.
How have you found your manager's style of managing you?
I like that I'm given a lot of freedom to make decisions. It's a very challenging environment, and I like that. I feel like I'm trusted to make a call on some bigger issues, for example whether we should partner with a particular company for an integration to Comet Backup. I have the freedom to say, "this is what I think we should do," and my rationale behind my thinking. I think that's the best way to learn and see how it goes, within reason—being able to take calculated risks.
Do you feel it's contributing to your career growth in the direction you want to be going?
I'm definitely learning from getting to make my own decisions. I'm also learning a lot about the cybersecurity industry as I'm new to it. I am learning about the technology that is relevant our product. It's not a topic you can read up on; you have to absorb it through experience and application of that knowledge.
What advice would you have for someone following in your footsteps in the Customer Success area?
Understand your role and what you need to accomplish your goal. Next, identify what you need to know to do that role. And then seek help to learn. Don't be discouraged if you don't get it right away; it will stick eventually if you keep at it. There is a lot of jargon, but don't expect yourself to understand everything all at once. It will make sense eventually if you keep on asking questions. Make an effort to use the terms. Even if you misuse the term, people will correct you, and you'll learn! I was raised to believe that everything is learnable; you just have to put in the effort.
What makes for a great day at Comet?
What makes a great day is when most of the team comes into the office. Ah, and if the taco truck turns up, a free coffee and a funny slack thread going about the memes or the latest Elon Musk shenanigans. [Laughs]
If you could have any tech superpower, what would it be?
I would like to have the superpower to make old technologies like Betamax, VHS, and the old family Nintendo work again. I'd bring them all back, make them work all the time, and never die!
Comet is headquartered in Christchurch; what do you enjoy about living here?
It's very flat, so it's very easy to walk around. Easy access to South Island and there are a lot of places in the South Island to explore, like Twizel for skiing, and if you want to go to the seaside you can go to Akaroa.
I know that you are a foodie. To the non-initiated, what is the must-try South East Asian or Filipino dish?
Oh, that's a good question. I would say because it's summertime, you have to try Filipino mangoes. They are soft and juicy and supper sweet. You get more flesh as the seed is relatively small.
What are your thoughts on the controversial South East Asian fruit, Durian?
I'm not a fan! Warning; only eat outdoors or with all the windows open! The taste of the flesh isn't too bad, but the skin is very smelly, it smells like garbage. It must be a protection mechanism for the fruit.
You are about to go back to the Philippines. How long are you going back for, where are you going, and who are you seeing?
The last time I was home was in 2019, so it's been about three years. I'm just visiting family, but that's a lot of people because I have a very big family and I want to spend some time with all of them. I'm going to Manilla, where they live. The highlight of my trip will be visiting Boracay, which is a really nice beach. I am going to relax, have a coffee or Mai Tai or Pina Colada… at 11 am… guilt free… [Laughs]
What are your thoughts about the new employee benefit that Comet have launched for staff – free health cover for the employee – including pre-existing conditions?
That was so generous of them, as health insurance is so expensive these days. It's a really good perk that not a lot of companies offer their employees. It was really thoughtful and caring of them. I'm a huge fan of having dental care cover included.
What do you enjoy about Comet's company culture?
Professionally, I enjoy that the Management really wants to give you every opportunity to improve your skills. You're encouraged to make your own decisions; what I was saying before about I have their support to make my own informed decisions and learn from the experience, it's okay to make mistakes. I’ve found that's not as accepted in bigger companies, and they tend to be more adverse to risk. Also I’ve been encouraged to seek development and growth. They have invested in my development; for example, I'm currently completing the Certified Customer Success Manager programme, which is the most recognised Customer Success qualification.
Personally, I've enjoyed the fact that I've found that my manager was true to his word, and I have found that he's made every effort to hire people that can have different points of points view or opinions but not take that to a personal level and get the best outcome for the customer. We're not pitted against each other to compete.