Shopify Ecosystem

The Career Evolution Of Amy Elenius: Manager Of Customer Education At Gorgias

the-career-evolution-of-amy-elenius:-manager-of-customer-education-at-gorgias

Amy Elenius has lived many lives at Gorgias. Learn how she transitioned roles (multiple times) with support from her manager and the Gorgias culture.

In August 2020, Amy started her job at Gorgias as a Customer Success Manager. Fast forward to today: Amy has held four positions in the company, pioneered two brand-new Gorgias programs, and holds a new position as the Manager of Customer Education.

How is that possible in only two years? What special sauce has she found at Gorgias that keeps her going? And what kind of higher education was the precursor to her professional success?

Read the interview with Amy to learn more about her dynamic career evolution and the support Gorgias provided to make it possible.

What did you do before Gorgias?

My career path is a little unconventional. After finishing school I decided against going to university and launched into full-time work instead, picking up study later in life.

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I was fortunate to find a field where adaptability, problem-solving, and experience in customer relationships held high value in junior roles. When I transitioned to tech in my mid-twenties I had six years of hands-on experience which was a huge advantage in the startup space. From there all of my training has been “on the job.”

I’ve been lucky to work underneath brilliant managers, most of whom were female. They provided me with excellent opportunities to benefit from industry-leading mentorship.

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How did you find out about Gorgias and what made you apply to work here?

It is a classic story — I stumbled across a position on LinkedIn. 

After doing the case study the product had me hooked. I saw its potential to help merchants deliver an exceptional customer experience and drive revenue from happy shoppers. From that point, all my eggs were in the Gorgias basket. 

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At that point, Gorgias had just raised a 25M series B funding and had just over 100+ employees and 5,000+ customers. 

What are the roles you had at Gorgias and how did they change over time?

Back in August 2020 when I initially started in Gorgias, I was a Customer Success Manager. I started when the Success team had half a dozen people wearing many hats.

The CSM role was originally a hybrid position — encompassing both CSM and Onboarding Manager responsibilities. The focus was on managing full-cycle customer relationships: retention, churn, and expansion.

As Gorgias grew, Success roles were split into specialties, and a new department was created to service our non-managed merchants. I transitioned into Scaled Programs, a two-woman team led by Elena Balagush (who we recently welcomed back to the Gorgias family.)

Being a new function there was plenty of trial and error but always support from leadership which was essential to our success.

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In this role, I managed merchant relationships using a one-to-many approach and maintained a local book of business. After a few months, I was promoted to senior CSM — a natural progression for anyone at Gorgias who performs well. While continuing the above duties, I took on additional education duties running webinars and creating educational content.

After realizing the value of education, I upskilled in eLearning, content creation, and instructional design. The culminating project was setting up the Gorgias Academy

While I built the academy, I needed to prove its impact (one of Gorgias’ values is to maximize your impact, so everyone is accountable for delivering measurable results). I focused on before/after data comparisons to show the substantial impact the academy was having.

After proving the function was valuable, I moved into the Customer Education Specialist role as a one-woman show. 

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From there, the upskilling continued. With incredible guidance and investment from my brilliant manager Elise Kubicki, I was equipped with the tools necessary to make the Customer Education function (CEd) a success.

One of the most valuable strategies I had was connecting with industry leaders. I became an active member in a few CEd communities and leveraged group tips/feedback to guide decisions in lieu of a team. One particular community is called Customer Education Org run by Suneru Chatterjee. The support from other CEd leaders has been instrumental to my career growth.

After managing a substantial workload and delivering high-quality results consistently, Elise generously promoted me into a management position which I’m thrilled to be in today.

Elise, my manager, has been incredible. She led by example and gave me an excellent benchmark for what a manager should look like. She encouraged me to be brave with ideas and trust my intuition and experience. She listened to me pitch new strategies, provided feedback to strengthen my proposals, and gave me the confidence to execute my ideas. 

Without a manager who fostered open communication and responded with encouragement and empathy, I would never have advanced this quickly. 

Gorgias is also committed to getting the right tool for the job. We invest in technology. I could not have performed at the volume or velocity I did without a company that understands the benefit of a solid tech stack.

Elena Balagush was my manager when I was on the Scales Programs team, and she is also amazing. She celebrated my wins and gave me the freedom to go after new, out-of-the-box ideas.

Honestly, balancing all my responsibilities took a whole lot of time. But Gorgias investing in the right technology is a big factor — if I had to work without the right equipment, I could not have delivered quality content on time. I’m extremely grateful for this. Not enough businesses respect the impact the right tools can make.

The $2,000 learning stipend is also amazing. I managed to do most of my training for free but having funds available gives me the confidence to take on projects that require new skills. I used a portion of it to complete certifications in different areas like SQL.

Gorgias is also full of amazing, collaborative people. Openness with colleagues and genuine interest in sharing skills is not common. It’s one of the things that makes Gorgias an incredible place to work.

I don’t think many companies would match the level of trust Gorgias had when I was piloting new projects. Beyond that, there are a few factors that other companies struggle with that I feel are important to mention:

When goals aren’t unified across an organization, teams don’t want to help one another

If departments operate in closed silos, they can find themselves striving toward opposing goals. At Gorgias, we are all aware of the major targets and work toward them together. We celebrate wins as a team and take responsibility for setbacks as a team. 

This unity gives us a huge advantage because everyone wants everyone to do well.

Competition between colleagues discourages skill sharing

Healthy competition is good. But too often, leadership uses competition as the primary way to drive results. The notion that only one can win can be archaic and doesn’t motivate all personality types. 

At Gorgias, we have the understanding that if everyone exceeds the target, everyone is eligible to advance their career, be it in a different role or a different team. That’s motivating.

We have a culture of empowerment, enablement, and rapid growth 

At Gorgias, the idea is to hire the best of the best. The result is that everyone is hungry to become a better version of their professional selves, and Gorgias repays that hunger with great career progression, room (and budget) to learn new things, and a healthy collaborative atmosphere.

No one is happy “coasting”

The combination of the enormous amount of work to do and the brightest minds around means you are constantly encouraged to push yourself to deliver great work, fast. We all help each other to upskill and remove bottlenecks that occur when there isn’t enough work to go around.

A lack of honesty breeds anxiety

Not knowing why decisions have been made can plant the seed of doubt in the workforce, causing staff to be in a constant low-level state of panic. Gorgias operates with radical candor, meaning no matter what happens — good or bad, at the individual contributor level or in leadership — we understand why. This alleviates the stress associated with ‘the unknown’ and leaves employees’ minds free to be creative and push harder in the right direction.

How can you connect your experience with Gorgias’s core values?

To recap, Gorgias’s values are:

  • Maximize your impact
  • Customer-first
  • 100% honest
  • Strive for excellence
  • Take extreme ownership

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To recap, Gorgias’s values are:

  • Maximize your impact
  • Customer-first
  • 100% honest
  • Strive for excellence
  • Take extreme ownership

The honesty value is a huge benefit to me, personally. I am relaxed knowing leadership is open to hearing feedback from all levels of staff and that blindspots I have will be flagged. I have the confidence to speak my mind and know I will be heard.

Also, I respect how truly customer-first Gorgias is. Every company says they are customer first but I’ve never seen it lived the way it is at Gorgias. At all levels, we have an unprecedented number of conversations with merchants to learn about their challenges and develop new solutions. 

Lastly, my experience hinged on taking extreme ownership. Taking extreme ownership means passing the buck is not an option. This encourages people to think things through and rationalize the why. Knowing I own a project from end to end makes me push harder to deliver work I’m truly proud of.

What other anecdotes have you heard from people at Gorgias with similar career evolutions? 

Elise is amazing (I know I say it a lot but she really is). She started as an Onboarding Manager and is now leading the whole success department — and that’s a mammoth workload. 

She moved from onboarding manager to interim head of success in less than a year. She is now our VP of Success and, gosh, she earned it. She lives and breathes Gorgias’ values – it shows in the team she’s chosen, of which I’m honored to be a part.

We also recently welcomed back Elena Balagush, who was my manager before Elise. When staff return to an organization it speaks volumes about the environment.

What is your favorite thing about working at Gorgias?

Does it have to be just one? Here are a few of the standouts:

The support from upper management to try new things and experiment

A great deal of my success at Gorgias is due to supportive management. First, in Success from Chloe Kesler, then in Scaled Programs from Elena Balagush, and in the last 12 months from our outstanding VP of Success Elise Kubicki.

I have a particular soft spot for Elise, as she gave me the skills to develop strategies and concepts of my own but, more importantly, instilled in me the confidence to put them into practice.

The resources to become a better version of my work-self

The Gorgias team, internally, is jam-packed with team members who are experts in their field. This has given many of us a rare opportunity to learn on the job from the industry’s best performers.

A culture that encourages the sharing of knowledge

Following on from my earlier point, the collaborative culture at Gorgias is second to none. I have experienced first-hand the way sometimes competitive nature can become engrained at companies with aggressive goals. 

At Gorgias, you won’t find a skerrick of this. Instead, the value of 100% honesty and having a unified goal breeds an undercurrent of genuine camaraderie and a sense of drive to achieve as a collective. 

Knowledge is freely shared across all departments and seniority levels. This flat structure encourages curiosity and discussions between everyone — regardless of role.

If there is one thing you would like to change about the company, what would it be?

That we can’t hire everyone. There isn’t a single tech person I know who wouldn’t benefit from the experience of working here.

Now that you are holding a management position, what are your plans for customer education at Gorgias?

In the future, I’m going to do everything I can to develop a winning Customer Education program and (fingers crossed) position us as industry leaders in this field.

I’d like to see us continue to roll out new initiatives to help our merchants thrive, especially given the difficult landscape at this time.

I’ll continue to learn and grow in the Customer Education space. I still have plenty of areas to work on — I’m just grateful I’m part of an organization that gives me every possible opportunity to do this.

What’s next for you at Gorgias (and how is Gorgias helping you get there)?

I’d love to carry on in Customer Education and one day move up into a director position. I’ve got a long way to go but I’m confident Gorgias is the most suitable place for me. 

I couldn’t wish for a better manager, better team, or better organization. Results are rewarded and I’m incredibly proud of not just the growth that we’ve seen but the way we got here — we move fast, we make mistakes, we learn and we adapt. Rinse and repeat. That’s the kind of company I want to be with for life.

Interested in joining Amy and the rest of Gorgias team? Check out our jobs page to learn more about our benefits, interview process, and open roles.

Special thanks to our friends at Gorgias for their insights on this topic.
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