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Meet the global head of customer success

Vizrt's Vanessa Walmsley describes how she's inspired to work in the media industry by the people and their passion for the technology they're creating

Vanessa Walmsley, global head of customer success, Vizrt Group
Talk us through an average day in your role

While every day is different, every day consists of many, many topics. We have a lot of different teams, which have varying functions, so the discussions are diverse, and it is busy, but it’s so much fun. The Customer Success Team includes our technical pre-sale team, professional services team, global 24/7 support centre and Centres of Excellence. Together, we serve and support our customers before, during and after they invest in our software.

Another hugely important part of our normal day is to actively listen to what our customers need and gather the feedback that guides us in what we are doing to provide great service and satisfaction amongst our customer bases. We are often the voice of our customer inside Vizrt. We are operators at the end of day, our job is to make things happen for our customers. We want to continue being a world-class customer success team, then we need to make our customers successful. And for that, we need to really hear them and act accordingly. 

How did you get started in the media industry

I completed my studies in Ireland, which is where I am from. I did a business degree because I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do and ended up loving my classes. It was a four-year degree with a core major, which for me was marketing. Back then, I always wanted to work in marketing. This was all in Ireland, with a 10-month work placement in Munich in between, and at this point, I was oblivious to the world of media! 

Once I completed my degree, I packed up my car, moved to England and was offered a job in the media sector, [which was] mostly music at the time. We then expanded into radio and video, to create in-store media networks for thousands of stores across the globe. Our content was “streamed” across 280,000 business sites using our software. 

I was in this space for nearly 10 years and had many different roles but never got to work in marketing. I did a lot of M&A work, as well as business operations, business development, and always held commercial roles with a customer-centric approach. 

My career skyrocketed following a series of successful acquisitions and my next role was to be US based, but I decided that I wanted to remain in Europe as I had family commitments I needed to prioritise. What followed was an interesting few years; consulting for the media sector and then working in a private equity run start-up for the oil and gas sector. A total change of scenery, but I still learned a lot of great things, that I still use today in my role at Vizrt.  

My job was still operational efficiency, so creating processes to roll out to the entire company, I learned a lot, but I really missed media and technology. Thankfully I was headhunted to return to it after about two years. Qmatic was a software focused company and applied various logic to a range of digital formats used primarily in hospitality and public sectors globally. 

My introduction to broadcast was when I joined Vizrt. Instantly, I knew I was “home” and could not have felt more welcome and appreciated than when I entered this new industry and a new company. I simply love it. I think there’s just a certain culture in broadcast; it’s dynamic and competitive. We are constantly innovating for our customers and creating new solutions to stand out, and our customers and competitors drive the entire industry. It’s great. I’ve been here nearly four years now, and it’s still such an incredible journey. 

What training did you have before entering the industry?

I already mentioned my degree, and this provided the building blocks I needed for my entire career. It taught me how to understand all the elements that make a business grow and how to trade responsibility and be service centric. There was also a piece of advice I was given at university which resonated with me. Keep your experience as broad as you can for as long as you can, and that’s been my mantra in all my roles. I have enjoyed a variety of experiences and various positions to form the training I needed to perform my role. 

I would say the biggest training is to be curious to learn, no matter what the role. If you want to understand what you deliver to customers, learn that technology and understand the value it delivers. Luckily for me, I have had the privilege of leading technical teams who always supported me and could appreciate the value I could bring, despite not being an engineer myself! Customers are happy to share their opinions and feedback with me because I genuinely want to find ways to drive value for them.

Why do you enjoy working in the industry?

I love the people. Whether it’s my customers, or my colleagues inside Vizrt, there’s this energy and a heartbeat to this industry that’s just so vivacious and amazing. Take NAB for example, it doesn’t matter how tired you are, everyone is just happy to be together and have conversations about new projects, solutions, and the future of our industry.

The biggest thing for me about our industry is the incredible people and the passion they have for the technology they are creating, or the innovative technology they are using to tell great stories. I see the pace of change is growing and this excites me. It’s always more fun to help customers with a legacy to transform, using technology to innovate and achieve their own business goals. I love that Vizrt Group has such a leading role in this transformation. Our combined tools, across all our brands help achieve some amazing outcomes. This makes me love our industry and I cannot wait to look back in a few years’ time to see what we have all achieved together.

What piece of advice would you offer someone looking to explore a role similar to yours?

You have got to love service and customers. If those two factors motivate you then you are already a good candidate for a customer success role. On top, you should like technology, be knowledgeable about recurring business models and be a good communicator. 

I’d also add, you’ve got to love your job. It needs to be something that makes you wake up every day and feel excited to go to work and contribute. No matter what career you choose, you’ve got to find that motivation in your work to continue to show up every day and do brilliant work.