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Confessions of a Consultant-Turned-Customer Success Manager: What It's Really Like to Switch



Name: Omar Garada

Role: Strategic Customer Success Manager

Company: Samsara

Hybrid or Remote: Fully remote

Location: Washington, DC



Tasneem: I had the opportunity to chat with Omar and get to learn more about his career journey from Consultant to CSM. This is a popular transition and I'm curious to learn more. Let's dive into how he got started!

Omar Garada Customer Success Manager
Omar Garada leaving his suit and tie behind!


Q: Tell us about your background and experience.


Omar: With an upbringing in the Middle East where upward mobility and access to opportunities in tech are rare, I grew up gazing at the allure of the tech industry, thinking it’s an out of reach dream. That changed when I moved to the US at the age of 14, where I founded and sold an eCommerce company, worked at various consultative roles across public and private sectors, and finally landing in a role as a CSM, where I combined all of my skillsets.



Tasneem: Amazing! That entrepreneurial mindset at such a young age is an asset, which I’m sure has helped you in your career journey. I’m curious about what inspired your transition to the CSM role.



Q: What made you decide to become a CSM? What helped you transition into the role?


Omar: Being a CSM was never a goal of mine, but breaking into the tech industry was. I came from a consulting background after working in firms like PwC and Deloitte, which instilled rigor of customer experience and key CSM skills. I realized these skills are essential to being a CSM, such as being a good communicator, learning about client challenges and collaborating to drive results. I thought, how did I not do this before?


Tasneem: Ah, so it seemed like the perfect fit. I’d love to know more about your responsibilities in your current role.



Q: What does your day to day look like in your current role?


Omar: My current role at Samsara, as a Strategic CSM is partnering with enterprise clients to help them realize the value of their investments with Samsara as a platform to achieve compliance, safety and efficiency. Mainly, it’s to help customers reach the goals they have from using Samsara as one of their vendors, which is primarily bringing cost-savings to their organization (increasing profitability). Day-to-day, I work with clients to help them with goal setting and result measurement, technical support, delivering trainings and guides, and making their experience working with Samsara a blast!


Tasneem: Yes, delivering on their initial investment and consistently providing value is key. It is very rewarding when it all comes together!



Q: What are some common strategies or transferable skills that you have applied as a CSM?


Omar: Consulting and being a CSM highly overlap in the skills you need to be successful. Communication, agile thinking, prioritization for yourself and for your clients, and delivering a delightful customer experience were all skills I developed in consulting, which make them easily transferable. Client engagement is always a part that I enjoyed, so being a CSM combined all of these. It just clicked!


Tasneem: Wow, that does seem like a great match for your consulting background - now I understand what you were saying earlier about being a perfect fit.


Q: How do you uplevel yourself or keep up with industry trends?


Omar: I am selfish! My goal is to maximize the efficiency of my work so I can do more in my day (professionally and personally). I have a few tactics to uplevel myself as a CSM. I take advantage of all the tools I have access to beyond what is easily available. For example, I use Gong to summarize meeting notes, then use ChatGPT to format for me to track on my action items, as well as send follow up with clients with key takeaways.


Another tactic I use to stay up-to-date with the trends is to watch youtube videos of CS summits for keynote speeches to learn tips I can implement to simplify my life and automate as much as I can. This also provides me insights into where the industry is heading; for example, Value Management and measuring “Value” of your platform is one of the big frontiers in recent discussions!


Tasneem: Love that you’re embracing AI to work smarter in your role! Those AI captured meeting notes are a huge life saver. Automation is definitely a trend in the space and I’m glad you’re using that and other supplementary tools to your advantage.



Q: Looking back, is there anything that has surprised you about the CSM role? Are there any misconceptions?


Omar: A surprise is how little technical knowledge is really needed to be a good CSM! You need to know your company’s platform and master it. Another one is how hard it is to measure performance for CSM to assess if they are doing well in their role or not. A myth I hear a lot about being a CSM is that you’re going to be responsible for doing sales, which is usually not the case.


Tasneem: Yes, I have this conversation a lot with other CSMs. Not all CSM roles are created equal and each company will have its own requirements. It’s important to understand the responsibilities of the role at each company before you apply.


Q: What are you most proud of in your career as a CSM?


Omar: I am proud of the relationships I have made. I engage with stakeholders at different levels, and I built friendships from some of my colleagues/clients. I had coffee with my client in Istanbul!


Tasneem: Wow, that sounds amazing #clientgoals I will say one of the best parts of being a CSM is the relationships that you make with your clients, hands down!


Q: What advice would you give to other consultants who are looking to break into the CSM role?


Omar: Being a CSM is somewhat similar to being a consultant, but remember you will be an individual contributor, vs. the consulting team-based approach. I would ask current CSMs in the company if they are happy with their role over fishbowl/Linkedin.


Tasneem: Great advice and good distinction. I've heard that from other consultants, so good call out.


Q: Anything else that you would like to add?


Omar: Being a CSM is awesome in that you are able to learn new technologies! Look for companies whose technology/platform and mission inspires you :)




Thanks for taking us through your fascinating career journey, Omar! So glad to see that you're fully embracing the CSM role and enjoying it. I need to work on some international coffee dates with my clients! Keep rocking the role and look forward to your future successes!



 

To learn more about the steps to make your career switch, read about the CSM Career Path and Progression or grab a copy of Success in SaaS: Your Step-By-Step Guide to Landing Your Dream Job as a Customer Success Manager in Tech


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