As I’m quickly approaching my two year Rusti-versary and have now passed the generous 18-month “drinking from the water hose” phase, I’m reflecting a lot on my Rustici journey thus far. Before joining the elite squad known as the Rusticians, I was an elementary school teacher. Sounds like a pretty sharp turn, huh? While the adjustment from school to office life came with a lot of new things to learn, I am constantly bumping into situations where my experiences as a teacher have prepared me for my role as a Client Success Manager.

When I was a teacher, my main priority was my students, or as I referred to them “my kids.” I would often say, “Relationships first, everything else second,” as a sort of motto for my approach to teaching. In order for success to occur in the classroom, I had to build a strong relationship with my students. At Rustici, we are always focusing on our “most important work,” and for my team our most important work is nurturing relationships with our customers so that we can help them succeed. We do this in a number of ways, but there are four guideposts I always come back to: empathy, communication, organization, and collaboration.

It starts with empathy

Empathy was one of the first things that drew me to Rustici Software before I even started working here. I read about its importance in an open letter written by our Managing Director, Tammy, as it’s at the core of what we do and how we work. Merriam-Webster defines empathy as “the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another.” It was intriguing that a company would focus on empathy as part of their culture because building relationships with my students and their families was one of my favorite things about teaching. I was excited to be a part of a company where the relationships with our clients are so important, from sales all the way to support. As a Client Success Manager, I’m talking with customers every day, and empathy is an important part of that. It’s imperative that I am a good listener and understand my customers’ needs.

The conversation about communication

Communication was vital in every part of my work as a teacher and continues to be an integral part of my role. It’s no secret that there’s a lot of nuance in the eLearning industry, and being able to break concepts down into digestible chunks and ask clarifying questions is a significant part of what we do. Whether this is in the form of explaining features of the latest Rustici Engine release, providing a demo of Content Controller, or understanding the right questions to ask to get to the root of a problem, communication is in everything we do. Sometimes these are emails, and other times video calls, but careful, thoughtful communication is a fundamental part of these conversations.

The joys of colorful organization

Any doubt of my teacher-ness was immediately removed when we all headed into the office at the grand reopening during the summer of 2021, and I got to work setting up my office. I was thrilled to have a generous whiteboard in my office, so it didn’t take long until I’d divided it into sections with washi tape and devised a color-coded system for sticky notes where I could quickly see my account anniversaries for the next six months. I might be one of the only people at Rustici still in the dark ages using a physical planner, but what can I say? I love marking things off a list! As details, deadlines, and anniversary dates for my accounts added up, I was grateful for my experience keeping track of the needs of up 75 elementary school students over the course of a school year. These skills have come in especially handy when I helped organize a team book club and when I act as an honorary member of the marketing team assisting to coordinate the session schedule for our user summit with colorful sticky notes on the massive whiteboard in Friendship Hall. My heart swells a bit every time I notice other team members begin to add color-coding fun to their bag of organizational tricks.

Collaboration is key

You may have heard the saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’d like to remix that a bit and offer, “It takes a village to develop, implement, and support learning software.” At Rustici, we’re a small team of people who truly care about one another and the work that we do. I love getting to meet our customers and understand their use cases for our software. As the relationship grows, it’s a joy working together to understand how to help them meet their evolving needs. I reach the edge of my technical knowledge pretty quickly, but I have a whole team of experts who are eager to help me understand. Not only do they offer time to help clarify technical topics for me, they are always willing to hop on a call with customers without a second thought. I find such satisfaction in this collaboration and helping to connect people together and solving problems. After all, we’re all working toward the same goal and want our customers to be successful.

While transitioning from spending my days teaching third graders to managing accounts at a small software company may seem like a huge change, like anything else they have a lot more in common than you might realize. Building trust is a huge part of what we do, and my goal is always to help nurture that relationship to help our customers be successful. Have questions for me or my village? Ask us anything as we’re here to help!

Elizabeth is a client success manager with the Account Management team primarily with Rustici Engine and Content Controller customers. She prides herself on ensuring customers are delighted with their software, make full use of its capabilities and answers customer questions along the way. Previously, she spent 10 years teaching elementary students and brings a unique perspective to the world of eLearning.