Each month, we’re featuring a member of HDI’s 2021 Strategic Advisory Board, which is made up of industry thought leaders, practitioners, and solution providers to keep close tabs on customer insights, ensure content offerings align with industry best practices, and grow industry relationships.
Liz Beavers serves as Head Geek at SolarWinds, where she promotes industry best practices and advocates for an optimal customer experience. Work to generate content connecting use cases with industry insights and thought leadership. Here she describes the importance of stretching outside your comfort zone.
Could you describe your current role?
Previously, I worked as a Solutions Engineer and was hands-on with prospective clients and existing users of an ITSM platform. During that time, I offered guidance to organizations on how to best meet their service management needs and strategies, through their service desk's configuration.
I am now a Head Geek at SolarWinds, where I get to expand on my previous experiences and ITIL certifications to lead broad discussions about IT trends and best practices, and amplify great community stories. In my current role I get to create technical and thought leadership content, be that through blogs, videos, or podcasts, but best of all I get to connect and collaborate with other members in the industry.
What, in your opinion, are the characteristics of someone who is successful long-term in this industry?
Truth be told, in any industry, and especially in this one, it's critical to be flexible and open to change. My biggest takeaway in the last 18 months was how successful individuals were who were fluid and quickly able to adapt. Also, it may sound like very fundamental qualities and skillsets, but to learn more, to advocate for change, and to champion any solution, it helps to be a great listener. Listening enables you to see the forest, not just the trees.
I also believe being open to networking whenever and wherever possible is crucial! It may seem like the tech and service space is huge, but when you think about the connections you make, it can be a really small world. When networking, take the time to establish genuine connections.
What is one piece of advice you would like to share with those who are just setting out on a career path in the service and support industry?
Seek out feedback and jump when offered any opportunity to collaborate, be that on an internal team or cross-functionally. I learned so much from shadowing others or volunteering to work on projects that pushed me out of my comfort zone. I never worked directly on support, but I learned so much from doing "a day in the life" with my support techs.
Stepping into their shoes, I saw how they're pushed to creatively adapt solutions, as they are required to problem-solve on the fly. It was through these experiences you see other aspects of the customer journey, as it expands your understanding of who they are, what they wish to accomplish, their expectations when they seek assistance, and how you can best support them. Unearthing the layers of the user experience, in turn, empowers you to be a stronger advocate for your users – helping you to spearhead conversations or potentially lead furthered education.
Positioning yourself to learn more about what other teams are doing, progresses your knowledge, and you may find opportunities to streamline how they operate or identify areas where you can partner together. If I've learned anything, it’s that learning never stops – so exposing yourself to different areas of your organization only benefits you in the long haul.
There have been so many changes in this industry, both because of new technology and because of the COVID-19 crisis. How do you feel those changes will shape the industry in the next decade?
Alongside digital transformation I feel we’re in the midst of a user-centric transformation, too: from choosing a technology, to adopting and learning the technology, down to how it’s framed to support employees/customers - we are putting people first. While we continue to see technology introducing more ways to streamline and automate work, we also aren’t removing the people element. The focus on the user experience continues to gain momentum, and we keep seeing it applied to both service providers and the consumers – how can technology make an impact and leave people feeling heard, seen, and helped? I think this shift in focus is going to continue to grow and be applied to curb things like burnout or really help deliver more positive experiences.
It’s clear by your participation on the board that you believe in the role of mentorship in the service and support industry. Can you share a valuable lesson you learned from a mentor, and share who that mentor was?
Mentorship is so important! I believe finding those who can challenge you to think critically while pushing you to be your best and to test uncharted waters are so valuable to your personal and professional development. Some of the most meaningful lessons for me have been in self-advocacy - learning to voice my opinions and having confidence in the skills and perspectives I bring to the table. It wasn’t until my mentors nudged me to speak up in more meetings or raise my hand to get involved in projects outside of my comfort zone that I began to appreciate and interject my experiences to help fuel how I solve problems and tell stories.
Advocating for yourself may seem simple, but to be encouraged by someone to believe in what you have to offer can be so impactful. In the service industry there are so many varied degrees of experience and expertise that make up our collective community! Your voice and opinion can help reframe how others approach their work, bring an innovative solution to their organization, or communicate with their team. We can learn so much from one another.