Version 1’s Marguerite Clarke talks about how she manages her time as a working mother and why tech companies aren’t just hiring tech experts.
Marguerite Clarke was appointed customer success manager at Version 1 two years ago as part of the company’s strategy to grow its share of the IT market across the UK and Ireland.
This year, Clarke will work with Version 1’s customers in Ireland across education and justice. This particular focus comes at an important time as many public sector organisations here are moving operations to the cloud.
Clarke has more than 20 years’ experience in leadership roles in the UK and US. Despite this, she says that “every day is a school day” because she always aims to learn about and demonstrate tech knowledge to her customers.
“I’m constantly learning about Version 1 solutions we provide and attending industry events to stay ahead of technology trends.”
“Last week I attended a session with our software license experts to learn about how they are helping customers with migration to the cloud.”
Clarke enjoys learning about tech to help her deal with customers, but she is also eager to point out that some of the best tech companies recognise that they require people with a broad range of skills.
‘Do not disqualify yourself before applying to a role in the IT sector. Many of the best companies in tech have a strong culture of hiring from non-technical backgrounds’
– MARGUERITE CLARKE
If there is such a thing, can you describe a typical day in the job?
My typical day/week is planned out with customer meetings to learn more about our customers, helping them achieve next steps and demonstrating the value of the Version 1 services that will help them achieve the outcomes they are looking for.
Following customer meetings, I then take action based on what I learn from them. Normally, this is working with our tech and business experts to come up with solutions for our customers to consider.
I am lucky to be part of a large team that can solve tough problems and make innovative suggestions in digital, cloud, data, enterprise software and next generation managed services.
Before I finish up for the day, I make a to-do list of the most important tasks that I need to complete for the following day. I’ve learned that planning and being organised is integral to helping me achieve my goals. Time is precious for me as a full-time working mum and time spent being disorganised is wasted time.
What types of projects do you work on as a customer success manager?
My two main priorities are: make new friends, but keep the old friends.
Working with new customers – getting to know their business and team members and showcasing examples of how Version 1 can accelerate the use of digital to modernise and streamline how public services are accessed and administered.
We’ve doubled 10 times since we started and that has given us the ambition to grow further. I’m excited to help grow our business in Ireland by attracting new customers to partner with us.
Working with our existing customers – Version 1 has a continued focus on making a real difference for our existing customers through long-term, outcome-focused relationships.
What skills do you use on a daily basis?
My top skills on a daily basis would be listening, honesty and linking solutions to customer needs.
Listening: When it comes business opportunities, I work to understand what our customers pain points are, seek feedback to understand their business and what they want.
Honesty: My goal is always to earn trust and I do this by always being honest with my customers and colleagues by not overpromising. We tell our customers what they need to hear – not what they want to hear. We have a 98pc customer retention rate as our customers repeat their business with us year on year and my plan is to continue this success.
Linking solutions to customer needs: Our customers want something that’s specific to them. We partner with leading global technology leaders including AWS, Microsoft, OutSystems, Oracle and Redhat to provide our customers with the highest quality solutions and services. Version 1 is vendor agnostic and in each of our partner’s technologies we tailor solutions to our customers’ unique needs.
What are the hardest parts of your working day, and how do you navigate them?
At the beginning of the pandemic, I found myself working longer and not taking breaks. I’ve now created a much better structure to my day. The best change I’ve made so far is giving time to myself. I take an hour out and go to the gym at lunch time: this helps me stay healthy and keeps my stress levels low. Depending on my work location, I attend the Version 1 gym at our office or my local gym if working from home.
How has your role changed as this sector has grown and evolved?
I’ve been working in the tech industry for 20 years and the biggest change I see is the growth of women working in the industry. I have noticed among many of our customers and colleagues, that many senior roles are taken up by women. The representation of women in the technology sector still has a long way to go before women are no longer considered the minority. However, women’s representation in the tech sector today is like night and day compared to when I started out.
Provide 2 tips for people looking to enter the industry
Consider working in the tech sector. You don’t need to be a computer whizz to work in tech. There are many non-technical positions available in tech companies that go unfilled because highly qualified people do not apply. They see a job role and think because the job role is in the technology sector they are automatically disqualified by not having the tech experience. Tech companies also need employees with HR, legal, marketing, sales, social value and accountancy experience to help run a successful business. Do not disqualify yourself before applying to a role in the IT sector. Many of the best companies in tech have a strong culture of hiring from non-technical backgrounds.
Utilise your network. Networking may not be everyone’s favourite thing to do, but it’s one of the most important aspects of any job search. Networking has been an effective way for me landing my job in Version 1. It can build relationships and open up opportunities that you may not have found by researching on your own.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
Attracting, winning and keeping customers. By nature, I’m competitive and I love winning business for Version 1. I do this by spending time getting to know our customers, their wants, needs and challenges, and then working with Version 1 experts to deliver the solution to the client’s problems.
Another thing I value working at Version 1 is our strong belief that it’s important to support local community groups to ensure we are making a real difference. In October (it was extremely cold) last year along with 20 colleagues, we slept outside to raise vital funds for children who could become homeless. We raised €10,000 for the charity. I like to think of giving back like this: When you help one person, you provide them with the ability to help others, and then those people help others, and so on.
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