Monday Guest Barry Murphy – Y3-W8

Spread the love

Get to know Barry Murphy

By: Mohammed Alqaq   |  February 19, 2024   |  Year 3  –  Week 08/2024

I currently run the APAC Customer Success function for Forter, which is the leading Trust platform for digital commerce, using AI and ML to provide identity protection, payment optimisation and fraud prevention services to a global network of digital merchants.

I grew up in Ireland, moved to California in my 20’s then moved down to Australia 20 years ago. I’m someone who loves to travel. This past year (2023) I took about 7 months off to travel through parts of Africa, Europe and Asia that I’d wanted to see.

I definitely want to see more of the Middle East – I’ve been fortunate to spend time in Jordan, Dubai, Qatar, and Abu Dhabi but definitely want to see Oman soon – maybe in 2024?  Sydney has been home for the past 20 years.

We asked Barry to take us through a journey telling us about his career path, how he spends his workday, what advice he can share with someone starting as a customer success manager, and many other questions.

Enjoy reading this interview  

Table of Contents

Tell us about your career path?

I started off in technical roles with an Irish company that was probably the first homegrown tech success story. This company was a pioneer in eLearning and when I joined, tech was changing very rapidly, leaving a significant skills gap, so demand for IT training was huge, especially in the US.

So this Irish company relocated the management team from Dublin to San Francisco and I joined shortly afterwards. I rose quickly through the ranks and was eventually promoted to Vice President of Operations.

 It was a very innovative company and I made many lifelong friends there.

How did you join Customer Success?

At this stage we had a young family and  we decided to move to Australia. My old company, now known as Skillsoft after a merger,  asked me to run the Asia Pacific Customer Success team. I thought “What’s not to like?” I got to work with some old friends, everyone worked from home which suited me when the kids were young, but I still managed to travel for work to China, India, Japan, Singapore, and elsewhere.

What I didn’t realise was that Customer Success as a function was going to grow in importance in the industry and that my skills and experience were going to be very much in demand as a result of this move – which if I’m totally honest, I made because of the lifestyle factor at the time, rather than any desire to be in Customer Success. However, I came to love the business of Customer Success, especially the analytical side. It’s been a very good career pivot, as this gave me the opportunity to work with MuleSoft and Elastic, two of the best software companies to emerge in the past decade.

How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?

The first word that comes to mind is curiosity. Always Be Curious. The best CSMs have the skills to do deep discovery and understand how they might be able to solve a problem the customer may not realise they have. They have a point of view. They want to educate the customer. The super-best lead the customer, not the other way around.

Skills can be learned, having the will to do what it takes is what I look for.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?

The great thing about this profession is there are so many people willing to share. I don’t think I’ve seen this level of sharing in another profession, perhaps because it’s relatively new, perhaps because it seems like it’s constantly being evaluated within companies. So my advice would be, network outside and inside your company with experienced CSMs, go to the meetups, listen to the podcasts, join the networking groups, follow thought leaders on LinkedIn and read blogs from the likes of Gainsight, Totango and Catalyst.

In 2023 , I was fortunate to participate as a coach in Catalyst Software’s Coaching Corner – if you are serious about CS as a profession, apply to be a coachee in their program. Make the time to learn. Invest in upskilling yourself outside of core hours. Also, keep coming back to this excellent website, there’s lots of goodness here.


Network outside and inside your company with experienced CSMs, go to the meetups, listen to the podcasts, join the networking groups, follow thought leaders on LinkedIn and read blogs

Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?

At the company I work with today, Forter, I usually start my day early, talking with people from our US Headquarters. I often end my day late, talking with people in Israel. In between I’m talking with people in Australia, Singapore, Japan and China. 

Some days, the issues are pressing, such as a customer scenario that needs to be resolved immediately, some days I’m trying to keep the team focused on the quarter, the financial year, account plans and what lies ahead. 

It’s not always easy for a CSM to focus on the future when there are customer issues that need immediate resolution – that’s why they need people like me to support them in resolving issues but also to help them keep an eye on the next big target and the target after that.

What makes you feel inspired or motivated?

Sometimes work – and life – can be challenging. Victor Frankl, who knew about life’s challenges, said “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” So, no matter how tough a situation you’re in, you get to choose your attitude.

What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?

I don’t talk about this often but I am proud to have represented Ireland in rowing. Rowing is an incredibly tough sport. I’m reading a book about rowing at the moment, “The Boys In the Boat”, which is about the 1936 US Men’s Olympic eight oar crew. As the book says, “Once the race starts, there are no time outs, there are no substitutions, it calls upon the limits of human endurance.” I loved rowing. When everyone is in sync out on the water, it’s incredibly peaceful.

Who do you look up to the most? 

Probably Roy Keane, a Manchester United legend. He is famous for setting high standards, not being easily impressed, and for reminding those who tend to deliver or seek over-praise, that the footballer in question is essentially doing what they are being paid to do. “That’s his job” is a great meme. One of his more famous quotes is “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail”. Though I think Benjamin Franklin might have said it first!

What are your top 3 priorities now?

As I write this, we are heading into a new year, so my priorities are personal: to work on my physical and mental well-being, take a professional development course in coaching, and to learn Italian.

What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?

More or less the same as my above advice – invest in your self-education. Also, if you really want to impress Management, don’t spend time playing the political game – instead be the first to volunteer for new projects, or come up with new initiatives yourself –  and make sure you can deliver.

What’s your favorite book, and why?

I don’t know if I have a favorite but books that have greatly influenced me include “On the Roadby Jack Kerouac, “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenanceby Robert M Pirsig, and “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller.

Work-wise, “The Qualified Sales Leader” by John McMahon, is essential if you believe, as I do, that if you work in Customer Success, you’re also working in Sales.

» Check out the 10 Books a CSM should read to advance and improve their skills.

Have you had your “I’ve made it” moment yet?

I have, but I’ve learned that such moments are temporary. There’s always a new challenge, personally as well as professionally. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

What should I have asked you but didn’t? 

“Why is Customer Success a good career choice?”

I honestly believe CS is one of the best places to start your career, especially in larger companies. Few other roles give you a sense of how an organisation is functioning as a whole. I’ve seen successful CSMs move into Sales, Product Marketing, Sales Ops, and Digital Marketing.

Of course, if you are successful as a CSM, you will likely have promotion opportunities within CS  and other companies will come calling – it’s an occupation in demand because everyone wants to figure out how to retain and grow their customer base.

Where can people go to find out more about you?

Hit me up on LinkedIn. Don’t worry about being a stranger. A stranger is a friend you haven’t met yet. I’ve only met Mohammed once but he already feels like a friend.  If you reach out as a result of reading this interview, then say so in your invite, a personalized invite is more likely to be accepted.

Thank you, Barry, for sharing your knowledge and for the opportunity to know you more.

Do you have a Customer Success Leader, Expert, or Influencer you would like to know more about?