The Many Faces of SUSE Global Services: An Interview with Zeina Klink
In this installment of our Many Faces of SUSE Global Services blog series, we travel to France for a chat with one of our Customer Success Managers in Europe – Zeina Klink. Zeina lives just outside of Paris and is passionate about her customers, cooking and SUSE culture.
Let’s learn a little more about Zeina and why she’s an excellent representative for our Customer Success team in Global Services.
Zeina, Tell me about yourself and how you ended up on the Global Services team.
I started with Novell in 2004 as an Executive Assistant to the Country Manager. After a few years, I was able to take an Inside Sales role within the Services Organization, where I worked with sales and services. When a position opened for a Service Account Manager, I applied for it because I thought it was a great opportunity even though it was a completely new area for me. The manager took a chance on me! Because it was a completely new role for me, I had to learn new IT processes, new technology and new terminology. I was fortunate to work with an amazing team who was excellent and helped me to learn my job.
About 18 months ago, SUSE Global Services split off from MicroFocus and I was fortunate to get a role on Kenny’s team as a Customer Success Manager. Now I am completely green!
So you went from being a Service Account Manager to a Customer Success Manager. Can you tell us what the difference is?
A Service Account Manager, or SAM, is a nontechnical person who advocates for the customer. It’s often a reactive role that provides an escalation point and enables coordination between the premium engineers and the customer. There are also a number of operational and administration tasks that fall under the SAM role.
A Customer Success Manager, or CSM, is more of a proactive role. I would say it encompasses all the activities of a SAM plus added consulting items such as resource planning and project management. It’s also an expanded role as I manage all of the premium engineers in France, Italy and Spain – but we all really work as one team to address the customers’ needs.
As a CSM, I can also be more proactive with my customers as I know them, their teams and what their environment looks like. We can really plan to meet their business needs – both now and into the future. I can provide insight into technology trends and help support their ever evolving environment with consulting, premium support services or even new or expanded SUSE solutions.
Zeina, why do you think customers purchase Premium Support Services?
I think Premium Support Services is purchased initially as an insurance policy. It provides our customers’ with a single point of contact, good visibility into SUSE Solutions and Roadmap, and offers a quick return on investment. You see, when a customer purchases Premium Support Services, they not only get a named premium engineer and customer success manager, but they also get reach into the greater SUSE product and engineering team. But I think for most customers, having that dedicated relationship with a local premium engineer is really key. They have that peace of mind that whatever issues they have will be met. I know we have had several customers who, after a certain number of years, decided to not renew. Most, if not all, of these customers end up repurchasing because they miss having that dedicated relationship.
Let’s switch gears a little. Tell me who inspires you.
I would answer the people who love and love me. They rely on me and I rely on them. It’s the people I surround myself with that inspire me to be the best I can be.
That’s a great answer. And it’s really true that when you have people depending on you, you really are your best! Tell me a little about the best concert you’ve ever gone to.
Do you remember the terror attacks in Paris in November, 2015? Well I purchased tickets to see Simply Red that year and the concert dates were 3-4 days after the attacks. Of course, the whole city was on edge and we didn’t know if the concert was to be cancelled.
As it turned out, the concert was not cancelled. In fact, all of Paris looked for ways to help each other. We were deeply patriotic and knew in our hearts that life had to go on. So I went to the concert. I remember being sad and feeling bad, but resilient. We were still French and we had the same identity. We were so grateful to be alive and to experience the joy of the concert. (Plus, Simply Red just brings back a lot of good childhood memories.)
So while it was a very emotional experience, it was also a very good experience. We all experienced a sense of connection and that we are all the same.
Wow. What an experience. I have to imagine that sense of community was much like we felt after the 9/11 attacks in the United States. We are all the same. Moving back to work, tell me about the most difficult project you’ve worked on and contrast that with the most fun project.
This might sound a bit arrogant, but I really don’t have difficult projects. I have had challenging projects but because I have such talented people on my team that work so well together, we always get them done. My team is amazingly talented and helpful and always willing to jump in to solve any issues.
The most fun project was about 6 years ago when the Services team started having discussions about providing content for an IT engineering university. We built specific SUSE training modules and certification courses. The training was done at a high level and we used a train the trainer model. We met the timeline and fulfilled delivery of the contract. It was a great project that was done jointly with the education team and management.
What are you most passionate about?
I love cooking and baking. I love to experiment with mixing flavors; you never know how meals are going to turn out. For instance, I recently had some friends and family at my house. I made a basic African meal and mixed in some Lebanese spices. It was really delicious!
Yum! And now I am hungry. So, let’s move back to your day in Services. Tell me what a day in the life of Zeina Klink, Customer Success Manager, looks like.
Like most people, I get into the office and check my email. I add items to my to-do list by priority. Customer urgencies are always prioritized first; and typically warrant a phone call. In between my to-dos, I often help with sales proposals, talk to my team – both the premium engineers and consultants, and work with management on forecasts and other projects.
I spend much of my time with my customers – not only with issues but also helping them with a roadmap so they can meet their business needs. I support 23 customers across France, Italy and Spain.
I’ve learned that I hate leaving things unfinished at the end of the day, so often times I’ll start with the most difficult things first
We say that SUSE is the open, open source company, what does open mean to you?
Open means having an open mind and an open spirit. Our doors are always open and we approach each other openly. We believe in open source and the open source community. We hire the best developers to provide and support the best open source distributions to our customers.
Zeina, what are the three things you like about working at SUSE.
First, and most importantly, I would say the people and the culture are fantastic. Second, our philosophy of being open with each other and our customers. And third, our customers.
Final question, do you have a favorite quote?
It always seems impossible until it is done.
– Nelson Mendela