I am Nabeeda Bakali and I am a Customer Success Manager for LinkedIn. I started in the field around 4 years ago and have never looked back since. I am passionate about personal and professional development especially for South Asian Women.
I am a British Pakistani Woman and have faced many challenges in my career and I try to create content on how other women can overcome their blockers.
In the world of CS, I try to work with people try to join or transition into Customer Success and help them find their next role.
I have also started a Customer Success Cafe in Birmingham, England. Focussed on creating a space for CS professionals in Birmingham to come together.
We asked Nabeeda 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
Tell us about your career path?
I did a degree in Business and Management. Post that degree I had no idea what I wanted to do and I ended up on a Graduate Scheme where I worked as a Recruitment Consultant for a year.
I absolutely disliked that role. From the cold calling to the selling, just wasn’t my vibe and I knew I needed a change and that’s where Customer Success came in.
I have been CS for about 4 years across different companies and functions finally finding my feet at LinkedIn; the company I always wanted to work for.
How did you join Customer Success?
As I mentioned I was on a Graduate scheme, and as part of that scheme I was allowed to move to another role after a year. So I came across CS.
I spoke to a few people and researched the job and it felt like the right role for me as it was about building relationships with customers and showcasing value.
I interviewed and got the role. I was in a fortunate position as the company had just established its CS function so I got to learn the foundations but also seeing how to scale it up.
Additionally, in that process, I networked with many CS professionals externally creating my own network which has benefitted me since.
How would you describe the ideal CSM candidate?
I feel like there is no ideal candidate because CS can look different in different companies. This is a lesson I learned when I moved from my first CS role to my second role.
As the companies were different, their CS expectations were different too. When I say different, I mean worlds apart.
So I would say there are some key skills such as the ability to build relationships, prioritize, analytical, and ability to create and hold boundaries.
But every company will define their own definition of the ideal CSM.
What one piece of advice would you give to someone just starting out as a Customer Success Manager?
Someone gave me this advice and it served me well. As a CSM being curious is so important to understand what your customer is looking for. What their objectives are and what they want to achieve.
Additionally, curiosity also means you ask a lot of questions internally and understand your own product or service offering better too.
Be curious and remain curious! .
What I wish I knew when I first started working as a CSM, here are top tips to excel in your career
Can you take us on a journey describing what your workday looks like?
🙂 Each day looks very different for me. But each day starts with checking my diary to see what is planned for the day, Most days will have customer meetings except for Mondays (I try to keep them meeting-free).
If I have meetings in the day then I will start the day with prep this will include looking at the company insights, market news, etc so I am going in prepped for any conversations.
During the day, I will also try and have allocated time to look at my emails and respond to any queries or emails from my customers.
When the meetings are done, I have set a time to get the follow-ups done. I try to follow up for most meetings within 24 hours so having that allocated time is the key for me.
Finally, I will leave some thinking time. Time to just reflect and also plan for anything new or strategic I can do with any of my customers.
What makes you feel inspired or motivated?
The CS Community is an inspiration in itself. I follow a lot of amazing people within CS so anytime I feel like things aren’t going well, I will read someone’s post or content to pick me up. There are bad days but nothing the CS community can’t resolve.
What’s one thing that people are generally surprised to find out about you?
That I was born in Pakistan and I moved to the UK when I was 9. I also couldn’t speak English until after that which means English is my second language and sometimes I still mess up in English.
However, people don’t realize that very often (which works well for me)🙂
Who do you look up to the most?
My mum. She is my inspiration, my motivation, and my support system.
What are your top 3 priorities now?
– Take the next step in my Career from Customer Success Manager to Senior Success Manager.
– Continue working on building the CS community in Birmingham.
– Develop my coaching brand further as it is something that truly brings me a lot of happiness alongside my job as a CSM.
What advice would you give to Customer Success Managers to grow and develop their careers?
Your customers are important and what you are able to achieve with them is definitely valuable. But don’t let that stop you from taking on other projects and developing additional skills.
It is important for you to be involved in other things as the skills will always help you in your role.
For e.g. I did my coaching qualification and that has helped me grow as a CSM and I have been able to use that in many interviews.
What’s your favorite book, and why?
Have you had your “I’ve made it” moment yet?
This question really made me think and reflect on life so far. I would say Yes!
I remember I always wanted to work for LinkedIn. I would go on and on and on about it. The day I got the offer me and my mum both cried and that was the moment I felt like I had made it. I could see how proud my parents were. That is one of the most important things for me.
Hopefully, more of these moments are to come. 😊
What should I have asked you but didn’t?
What is my big crazy, hopefully, one day I achieve this dream.
I have always enjoyed writing. I got this gift from my dad. I have been writing poetry and other short stories since I was little.
My big crazy, I hope I achieve this is to one day write a book that gets published.
To hold a hard copy of it in my hand would be the best feeling in the world.
Where can people go to find out more about you?
I exist in lots of places so feel free to connect or drop me a direct message, always happy to chat!
Thank you, Nabeeda, 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?