Karen Ji, is Cloudera’s Senior Manager Customer operations ensuring the success of our global customers, with a regional focus on China and Korea.
Multi-tasking is my superpower
Karen joined Cloudera as a Solutions Engineer before switching to lead customer support. On a daily basis Karen collaborates across the business with different functions, but works extremely closely with the field, sales and professional services teams to ensure that customers have the support and insights they need to realise their ambitions.
“No two days are the same. I can be sitting in a meeting and get pinged by the account team and then by a customer operations exec (COE) who needs assistance. All of these are my responsibility – including paying attention to the meeting I am in. Delegation, quick decision making and multi-tasking are therefore a must in order to ensure we make our customers successful.”
Building a team that is able to adapt to a constantly changing and fast paced environment is something that Karen is deeply passionate about. In fact, she says developing her team is the best part of her role. One of the reasons that she’s so driven about team development is the opportunities she’s experienced herself. Having been a COE, she knows first hand what her team is experiencing and the hurdles they are likely to face. Managing a team has given Karen a different perspective on leadership.
“When I first joined, I was thinking about developing myself; but when I was promoted to senior manager it changed my mindset, now the question I ask myself is: how do I develop my team? People have different personalities and respond differently in the same situation. It’s my job to understand these nuances and help everyone work towards achieving their potential. Management is an art and it’s a state of continuous learning.”
Having worked as a COE, two of the key attributes Karen looks for when recruiting new members of the team is ambition and a desire to grow. Empathy is the core skill that underpins her team because, unlike technical knowledge, it cannot be taught. “It’s absolutely crucial to build trust and mutual respect with customers in order to work towards a resolution,” says Karen.
Women in tech – we’re no different
Karen has worked in technology for the last decade and joined Cloudera from Tintri. “I genuinely believe that there is no difference between women and men in the tech sector. People have commented before that ‘not many girls work in IT’ but that has certainly not deterred me. Why would it?”
One of the reasons that Karen enjoys working at Cloudera is that she’s challenged to continually evolve her thinking and push herself out of her comfort zone. In 2020, Cloudera rolled out its Sponsorship Programme which takes workplace mentorship a step further by pairing talent across the company with executives and professional coaches. The belief is that by investing in the growth and elevation of the women here at Cloudera, we will build a more diverse pipeline for leadership positions. For Karen this programme has been a game-changer:
“My regular meetings with my mentor give me a unique perspective on what we need to achieve as a business, commercially and for our people as well as our wider responsibilities to the communities that we work in. It’s given me a new lens to view, beyond the obvious, the contribution the customer support team makes to our company. It’s been eye opening. Using these insights I can see the leadership skills I need to build on for my future career.”
What I would tell my younger self
Karen’s advice to her younger self would be: “Imagine bigger and take ownership of your future self. If you look backwards you are not the person you were ten years ago. Imagine who you want to be and take small steps towards that goal.”
We think you’ll agree, that these are words to live by.