Conjura’s Hannah Herlihy Lowe highlights some of the ways her skills in mechanical engineering and customer success overlap.
The links between mechanical engineering and customer success might not be obvious to most people, but Hannah Herlihy Lowe has experienced them in her career.
Herlihy Lowe trained as a mechanical engineer before pivoting to analytics and, ultimately, customer success. In her current role as head of customer success at Conjura – a data analytics start-up with bases in Dublin and London that was founded by one of her former colleagues from Accenture – she oversees client liaison, internal success and consultancy work.
Here, she talks about her journey from the world of engineering and shares her advice for others thinking about making a career change.
‘Mechanical engineering has given me such a strong training ground for all my roles to date’
– HANNAH HERLIHY LOWE
Why did you decide to become a mechanical engineer?
I love understanding how things work, no matter what the component parts are; be it a business or a computer, I am passionate about the inner workings. I have an incredibly inquisitive mind and have always been interested in what is happening ‘under the hood’.
Mechanical engineering provides you with such an incredible opportunity to learn everything from fluid mechanics to hydrodynamics, but the biggest thing it taught me is how to problem solve.
I get huge enjoyment out of solving problems and to do this you have to know how things work. This inquisitive nature led me to study engineering after school, but it is also what has led me in every single step of my career to date.
Are you surprised that your career path has led you to customer success?
If you had told me years ago that this would turn out to be my career path, I would have been very surprised. But now, with hindsight, it all makes perfect sense. Every twist and turn has always been about pivoting towards my interests and strengths and that is ultimately what enables me to enjoy my job.
Working with people to grow businesses and solve problems has been a common theme at each stage of my career. My experience in large companies has added a lot of value to my journey to the start-up world with Conjura.
Have you been able to transfer your skills from mechanical engineering to your current role?
There have been so many skills that I have been able to transfer to my current role. Learning complex concepts fast, problem solving, building solutions to complex problems, working with clients to learn about their business, reading and understanding data – these are to name but a few and the list goes on.
Mechanical engineering has given me such a strong training ground for all my roles to date. Though some may struggle to see the links between engineering and my customer success role at Conjura, I am reminded every day of these. The one that always springs to mind is that engineering has taught me how to explain and communicate complex problems and solutions.
What’s your favourite thing about working in customer success? Has it become harder during Covid?
Meeting with clients in person and conducting client workshops were some of my favourite things about customer success at Conjura, and focusing on building these personal relationships.
Covid has changed our ability to do this in person but, surprisingly, we have managed to maintain these sessions remotely. Though I always believe nothing is as powerful as an in-person meeting, the value that can be achieved through online workshops is still massive.
For someone who wants to pivot careers and apply their skills to a new field, what advice would you give them based on your own experiences?
Follow the path that interests you most, thinking about the skills or areas of your current role that you find most engaging and what other fields these could apply to.
Attend courses and read widely about your area of interest. Knowledge is key. Reach out to people that are working in your target role or industry currently and learn more about what it’s like to work there.
People are always interested to chat about their experiences and journeys. I have learned that no matter how short the conversation, you inevitably always learn some nugget of information that is useful.