Spotlight 2020: Women at Funnelback

We sat down (virtually) with Vi, Natalie, Ellen, and Samantha for the inside scoop about their goals, careers at Funnelback, and more.

With Women's History Month wrapping up, Funnelback put the spotlight on four of our amazing women professionals to learn more about their career challenges, personal and professional goals, and their advice for other women in the workplace.

What do you enjoy most about your current role at Funnelback?

Vi Mai, Technical Consultant: My role allows me to see things from both technical and business perspectives. It keeps things interesting and no day is ever the same.

Natalie Grech, Marketing Manager: I used to be a combined sales and account manager at Funnelback, and there was a lot about it that I really enjoyed, in particular building relationships with our customers and helping them solve problems. Now that I’m in marketing, what I like the most about it is knowing I still contribute to the growth of the business by supporting our sales and account managers. I also really enjoy the ongoing learning, and the great conversations we get to have when brainstorming how best to tackle an obstacle.

Ellen Woszatka, Customer Success Manager: Being afforded the opportunity to engage with our wide variety of customers every day. Our customers adore Funnelback (mostly), and I love being on the front lines hearing their praise for our team. What sets Funnelback apart from a lot of our competitors (and the SaaS space in general) is that we're able to provide a truly human to human customer service experience. Not only do I love being a part of the teams that facilitate that human element, I also find so much joy in hearing how appreciative our customers are of our people.

Samantha Gilbert, Product Manager: Working with smart, motivated people to make products that are game changers for our customers.

What has been your most fulfilling career highlight?

Vi: My most fulfilling career highlight so far is the realisation that I enjoy my job. I get to work with a bunch of great colleagues and there's a good amount of daily challenges to get through which means many opportunities to achieve victories. When you reflect back on all the small victories that accumulate over time, they start adding up as career satisfaction. It's not exactly your typical career achievement but mentally, it is something fulfilling.

Natalie: Lots! But in 2014 we went through some extremely challenging talent losses that forced me to step up my game. Between a few of us, we really came together and we all worked hard to play our part in keeping things going and remaining profitable. These days it's a distant memory, but it's really where I cut my teeth here, pushing myself beyond any insecurities and my own inexperience to do my bit to continue to grow the business. I am often grateful to have had that experience.

Ellen: Definitely transferring to our Seattle office! Having the opportunity to do my job in a different market has been challenging but also really rewarding. Moving across the world and building from the ground up in a different office has taught me a lot about not only our company and our customers, it's also afforded me the opportunity to learn a lot about myself and the world. I can't believe a small company like Funnelback has opened up such an amazing opportunity for me.

Samantha: Setting up of a project office with a focus on getting outcomes from projects, not just deliverables.

What kind of challenges have you faced in your career?

Vi: I was once afraid to be the new person who asked too many questions, but I ended up asking all the questions and no longer became the new person. I'd always doubt my ability to be a strong developer, yet the next minute I've written up a script and had it implemented as a working solution. Many unknowns get thrown at us on the daily! It's up to us to persevere and make things happen.

Natalie: I'm very proud of being able to juggle my job with my 'at home work' and my other commitments. I have had to make very few compromises to my family over the last few years, and I've still built up my skills and progressed my career. But it is challenging because when you have little kids your mind and your energy are always being shared by conflicting priorities. I am both a professional and a homemaker; at the beginning, I thought I could do everything at once and keep up. But I think I've found my 'happy balance'.

Ellen: The learning. Oh my. I'm not technical by nature and I didn't have any Account Management experience when I moved into this role. Learning about Funnelback, and how to navigate the Account Management/Customer Success Landscape at the same time was one of the most challenging professional endeavors I've ever undertaken. It's not stopped either, the learning continues every day. The Team is really supportive and has been the entire time. Funnelback took a chance on a young novice, and subsequently provided me with enormous support. It's clear that everyone's only ever wanted me to succeed.

Samantha: Finding ways to get people to understand that proposing we change things does not mean it is being done wrong, only that we could be doing it even better than we are now. Additionally, as an introvert, the networking/self-promotion thing doesn't come easy.

Can you tell us about one goal you have for the future (personal or professional)?

Vi: Professionally, I'd love to see how Funnelback operates in markets outside of Australia by working overseas at one of our other offices at some point in the future. Personally, I'd like to pursue more martial arts in my spare time. I've been training Muay Thai for a few years now and would like to go back to Thailand during my annual leave to undergo another training camp.

Natalie: With circumstances globally now changing every day, my main priority is to make sure my son's education doesn't suffer as a result of not being able to attend school. So now I am adding 'home school teacher' to my list of responsibilities, and I want to do it well.

Ellen: I'd like to one day be cast as a principal character in a professional theatre production!

Samantha: To get the world (or at least my little part of it) to focus on outcomes.  It doesn't matter what or how fast you deliver, unless you achieve the outcomes that were needed, you've wasted your (and everyone else's) time.

What advice do you have for women looking to jumpstart their career in technology?

Vi: Put yourself out there and apply! Bring your knowledge, don't be afraid to be wrong, ask lots of questions and be open to learning more about yourself. It all starts with you.

Natalie: Leave ego at the door. Ask for what you need and be generous with your time for others. Being genuine is always best, in the long run.

Ellen: Ask questions! Appreciate your technical team. Accept help when it's offered to you and encourage others as you appreciate others encouraging you.

Samantha: You know more than you think you do (and your male colleagues know less than they think they do), so go for it!

The gender gap between men and women professionals in technology, which once seemed insurmountable, is getting smaller with time. While there is still more progress to be made, this positive trend is putting more women in the workplace. We’re proud to employ women who have chosen careers in technology, business, and management and are difference makers in our company.

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