In this episode we have a very special guest - Mark Souza, the Corporate Vice President of the Customer Success Unit at Microsoft. Mark has been at Microsoft for over 26 years with different roles across the organization. It was a fun experience talking with Mark on this podcast. Having interacted with Mark in the past, I can confidently say he is one of the most down to earth and grounded senior leadership executives I have ever met. In this episode we talk about how Mark starts off his day, his journey in Microsoft, he explains what the customer success in plain English, his advice for people starting off in their career, how he stays grounded, the one quality which he expects every member of his organization has, his favorite book and his favorite pastime outside of work.
How does Mark start his day ? (01:44)
He starts his day off by keeping up to date with everything that is happening with his happening across the world and making sure there are no emergencies, followed by coffee
Mark’s journey in Microsoft (03:01)
All 26 years in Mark’s career have been customer focused. Of the 26 years, 20 of them were in Microsoft engineering. He started his career of in a role which is similar to what is now called the “Cloud Solution Architect” role showing the value of Microsoft technology and ensuring they are utilizing the tech in the best way possible to get the most value and be successful.
Customer Success Unit v/s Customer Advisory Team (03:41)
In 2000 he started the Customer Advisory Team (CAT) - the idea of engineers talking to customers was brand new. CAT takes learning from the field back to the engineering team to improve the services and quality of the products. Customer Success Unit (CSU) looks a lot like CAT however the difference being this one is completely customer focused v/s the CAT being primarily product focused. In the Customer Success Unit we do #WhatEverItTakes to make sure the customer is successful.
Customer Engineering Team (07:14)
Customer Engineering Team is an extension of the customer success unit. As a global team -they take best practices and share them across customers across the regions.
One advice to his younger self (09:32)
If you are not learning something new everyday - you should start looking for a change. He asks to think of the CSU as a college - one year from now you will be much smarter than you are today - at the same time you will be making a difference to customers.
How does Mark stay grounded and not let success get to his head (11:22)
Insights profile culture test - defines Mark’s color as Yellow and Red. Yellow for team - he loves a healthy happy winning team and people. Red - for execution and getting things done. He regularly visits his local team across the world inspite of his busy schedule.
Advice for millennials to stay more engaged and focused (13:40)
Millennials having grown up with instant answers to everything all through their lives, he asks to keep up the same level of curiosity and the thirst to know the answers to everything. However with the abundance of information in todays world, everything is important but the key is to focus on what is “most important”
If everyone in the organization could have just one skill learnt overnight, what would it be? (17:18)
Customer empathy - If the customer has an outage or something goes wrong - we should be able to feel the pain and similarly if the customer succeeded or entered a new market because of our technology we should be celebrating it with them
Favorite book of 2019 (19:26)
Marching powder - He loves mystery fiction, however this book is a true life fascinating story.
Outside of work Mark’s favorite pastime (22:03)
His family - his wife, his son, and his 2 daughters.
LinkedIn - Mark Souza