July 30, 2022
5
 min read

How On Deck's network of peers and mentors helped me score a job as customer success leader

Authors

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Alex Gillaspie
Head of Customer Success
,
NeuroNav
The post originally appeared on MikeWilner.com. It was republished with permission.

Authors

Avatar icon
Alex Gillaspie
Head of Customer Success
,
NeuroNav
Avatar icon
Alex Gillaspie
Head of Customer Success
,
NeuroNav
NeuroNav helps adults with developmental disabilities navigate through life.

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Alex Gillaspie found himself at a crossroads at the beginning of his job search. He was looking for a company that was mission driven and had an outstanding culture, but he wasn’t yet sure what that looked like. On Deck Customer Success connected him with peers and mentors who were able to guide his job search and, ultimately, help him receive his new job as Head of Customer Success at NeuroNav, a startup that helps adults with developmental disabilities navigate through life.

Investor's note

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Making a Change

When I was accepted to On Deck in November 2021, I had just begun a new job search and was looking for roles and companies I could thrive in. I’d come from the construction tech industry, and while I loved those jobs, I recognized that they weren’t ultimately where my passion lied. 

On Deck Customer Success seemed like a great opportunity for me to grow my career and build a network of peers who were doing the same. 

I didn’t know exactly where I wanted to end up, but I was able to find support every step of the way. For example, one of the roles I was interviewing for was a venture capital fund focused on product-led growth companies. I’ve worked at product-led growth companies, but I didn’t have as much knowledge about the industry as I wanted, so I enlisted help from the other fellows in my program. They met with me to talk about all the ways that they run customer success at product-led growth companies. It was great preparation for my interview.

I didn’t move forward with that opportunity in the end, but it’s a great example of how On Deck Customer Success helped me tremendously during my job search. Speaking with other people in the same positions as me helped me finetune my job search and figure out what I would be most happy doing next. This helped me be patient and wait for my dream opportunity.

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Growing my Network

I met often with a peer in my program named Shaun Porcar. He was doing a job search too, and we were able to talk about the roles we were applying for, how the interview process was going, and what we were looking for. We gave each other motivation and encouragement throughout the journey. 

I also received support from one of my cohort leaders, Rod Cherkas. For my final presentation at NeuroNav, Rod gave me feedback on how to spruce up my deck and make it more appealing. I incorporated a lot of his feedback into my final draft and that was the presentation that ultimately landed me my role at NeuroNav. 

Meeting so many new people in my industry who all have a very solid skillset, and being able to collaborate with and learn from them, has been a fantastic experience. Moving into this new role at NeuroNav, I know I’m going to continue reaching out to the On Deck Customer Success community for support and inspiration. 

On Deck Slack exchange
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Acing the Interview

One of the most important things I learned from the fellowship was the types of questions to ask in interviews in order to set myself up for success. On Deck helped me realize that culture was the most important thing to me, and that I needed to be asking more targeted questions to as many stakeholders as I could during the interview process. 

In my last role, I had rushed into my position and didn’t take time to evaluate the culture, so it was important for me to do my due diligence this time around. I developed a series of culture-related questions and asked them to multiple people to see if there were overarching themes in their answers. Everyone at NeuroNav had the same answer: they talked about collaboration, having fun, recognizing employees, diversity and inclusion, and the importance of positivity. 

A session that helped significantly with my interview process was one that Rav Dhaliwal did on how to hire A+ players rapidly using hiring scorecards. NeuroNav wants to grow their customer success team from ten to forty people this year. I developed hiring scorecards based on Rav’s template and used that in my final presentation with NeuroNav — they were extremely impressed, and even expressed the desire to incorporate my projections into their future hiring plans. 

We also had a session on negotiating your compensation package and talked about what different people in head of customer success positions were receiving. I felt very informed going into my compensation discussion with NeuroNav, and was prepared with key questions to ask. I felt confident asking for what I felt was fair because I knew what was out there in the marketplace. 

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Moving Forward

I was on the Scale track at On Deck Customer Success in order to grow and progress in my career, and the program helped me do just that; I’ve grown not only professionally but personally as well. 

Leading up to my first day at NeuroNav, I was the most excited I’d ever been for a position in my entire life. I’ve volunteered with the Special Olympics since I was in seventh grade and have always had a deep passion for helping folks with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I owe a debt of gratitude to On Deck Customer Success for helping me refine my goals and end up in my dream role. 

NeuroNav’s company values

I’m going to be leading a cohort session about earning buy-in and driving expansion on a customer success team, and I’m excited to give back to the community that’s given me so much. 

To learn more about the On Deck Customer Success Fellowship for customer success professionals who want to build customer-centric cultures and maximize their potential, click here.

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