Monday Guest Michaela Carpenter-Y3-W28

Spread the love

Get to know Michaela Carpenter

By: Mohammed Alqaq   |  July 08, 2024   |  Year 3  –  Week 28/2024

Hey everyone, I’m Michaela—a Customer Success Professional, wife, mom, and dog owner. With over a decade of experience in client-facing roles, I tend to believe I have got a knack for making connections and getting things done. Armed with a psychology undergrad and an MBA in global management, I’ve found my true passion in the world of customer success.

I am an avid explorer, I love visiting new places, trying out new food, and meeting interesting people along the way. When it’s time to relax I indulge in books. While I once swore to never let go of paper books, discovering the Kindle last year has turned me into an even bigger bookworm.


My passion for Customer Success runs deep, as it does for everything I do. I am lined up to speak at the conference this year and I am hoping to be able to share my knowledge of customer success by lecturing at the university one day.

I am excited to share a part of me with you in this interview.

We asked Michaela to take us through a journey telling us about her career path, how she spends her workday, what advice she 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 my professional career very young, pretty much right after I graduated high school. I landed an internship at one of the most innovative banks in Slovakia – Tatra Bank, which later granted me a full-time role as a Middle Officer. I was supporting relationship managers at the Large Corporate Customer Department. I think this is what first sparked my interest in “Customer Success”. Seeing their jobs on a day-to-day basis, I knew that is what I would like to do one day. During that time, I started my psychology undergraduate, so I was basically bouncing between work and school for several years. I later got a promotion working as a relationship manager with SMB customers, but in full honesty, I did not feel fulfilled or happy. I wanted more.

That is when an opportunity showed up, to leave to South Africa for a few weeks and start working as a Business Development Executive for a French company called Marcopolis. I did not hesitate and entered the world of Sales. For the next couple of years, I visited Kenya and Ghana several times, as those were the main markets, I was responsible for. I think that was one of the best times of my life because I learned so much, met many amazing people, and I just got to see the world through a different lens.

I left Marcopolis when I emigrated to the United States. I spent almost 5 years there and not a lot of interesting stuff happened career-wise during that time. That changed when I started my MBA and got hired by ESET to develop and pilot a Customer Success strategy focused on B2B customers, and that’s what I had been doing (I tend to believe successfully) for the past years.

How did you join Customer Success?

At first, unconsciously! I’ve always been in customer-facing roles, and customer success has always been a part of them to some extent. I started to become more interested in various customer strategies while working for Marcopolis, but back then, it wasn’t officially labeled as Customer Success.

How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?

As a person with a lot of integrity. In my eye’s, having integrity is the most important characteristic of a CSM. It’s the ideal role for empathetic and compassionate people, other skills can be learned.

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

Think about how you would like to be treated if you were a customer. Try to see the situation through your customer’s eyes, because only then can you truly be empathetic and realistic. Do not assume or make conclusions about what you think is best for the customer; instead, ask them. Make sure to ask plenty of open-ended questions to understand the full picture. Sometimes, it is hard to maintain this mindset under the pressure of quarterly or yearly goals, but I strongly believe that investing in genuine relationships with customers and aiming for long-term success will ultimately be more fruitful and bring more revenue than focusing on short-term goals.


Do not assume or make conclusions about what you think is best for the customer; instead, ask them.

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

Oh, this one is tricky! Not a single day mirrors the last. I juggle a lot of activities, whether it talking to our regions and assessing how is the local implementation of Customer Success strategy is going, what adjustments we need to make or what support they need, to discussing the development of new reports aiding our customer success and sales teams in assessing feature adoption of our solutions.

I also spend time interviewing vendors as we’re currently sourcing a provider of Customer Success software. Earlier last year, we did a lot of custom development to Salesforce to better reflect CS requirements, which was a robust project consuming a significant amount of time. I’ve become quite versatile when it comes to anything CS-related! I would say I became versatile when it comes to anything CS related!

What makes you feel inspired or motivated?

The vision of future possibilities drives me. I have a clear idea of who I want to be, where I want to be, and what I want to achieve. For me, it’s not just about personal success but also about creating opportunities for those surrounding me.

My goal is to be able to improve some things around me. I would like to contribute to things such as healthcare improvement, raising more awareness about children car seat safety and support organizations that provide resources for victims of domestic violence. When I reach the point where I can truly influence these things, that is when I will consider myself successful.

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

In recent years, a conversation shocker has been the fact that my husband and I, an American and a Slovak, met in Kenya. This fact always sparks a long follow-up “interrogation” 😊

Who do you look up to the most? 

I have never been one to follow or look up to any particular person. Everyone has their own path, and having a vision of who I want to be one day is what fuels my drive.

What are your top 3 priorities now?

My number one priority will always be my family. I strongly believe that you can always make more money and work longer to finish piled-up tasks, but you can never make up for missed time and moments with your family. Having a child and watching him grow has made me realize how fast time flies. With this knowledge, I do my best to cherish and indulge in the special moments we have together.

Mental and physical well-being comes a close second. A person simply cannot perform well at work or be there for others if they are not comfortable within themselves. As an overachiever, I have neglected my health and mind in the past to be seen as a good performer and employee, but it took a toll on me and was not worth it in the end. What goes around comes around. You can sustain pushing through for weeks, months, or even years, but it will eventually hit you back like a ton of bricks, making recovery much harder. Now, I always remember that to perform well, I need to feel well and be well.

My third priority is progress. I promised myself never to become one of those people who achieve success or reach high work achievements and suddenly believe they know it all. I want to keep progressing as a person and a professional, continuously learning and keeping my mind open to new ideas, knowledge, and other opinions.

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

First, set a goal. Be clear about which skills you want to learn or improve. Determine whether you want to deepen your knowledge as a specialist or gain knowledge that will help you advance within your company or start your own business.

Browse the internet; there are plenty of free resources on LinkedIn and in various customer success communities. Attend webinars, connect with people in the network, go to conferences, and read. Some books, even if not explicitly related to customer success, can offer valuable insights for your day-to-day work as a CSM. One that comes to mind is Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink.

Do your research on courses, see what people are saying about them, and determine if they find them valuable. Ideally, make this a part of your professional development and get your company to sponsor your attendance. For me, getting an MBA was a significant step forward in seeing things from a different perspective and thinking more strategically.

What’s your favorite book, and why?

This might come across as cheesy, but my favorite book from the past year is The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. Every overthinker, like me, should read it. It provides a completely different perspective on how to look at your past choices, suggesting that you shouldn’t regret anything because, at the end of the day, every decision you made and every direction you took brought you to where you are today and made you who you are today. People tend to think that if they had done things differently, their life would have been better, but this book really makes you wonder: “Would it?”

» 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?

No. There are things that need to happen before I can say, “I’ve made it,” out loud or even in my head, but I like to believe I am headed in the right direction.

What should I have asked you but didn’t? 

The traditional “good old” interview question of “Where do I see myself in 5 years”. Just kidding!

Where can people go to find out more about you?

I am more than happy to connect on LinkedIn and have a quick virtual chat on Zoom or another platform. I love networking, so unless someone tries to sell me a pyramid scheme (which has happened before), I’ll never say no to a good conversation.

There are also a lot of exciting initiatives to involve the CS community I am working on now. I will be sharing more soon!

Thank you, Michaela, 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?