Meet Niki Addison, Customer Success Director, Babble

Niki Addison

Niki Addison is the Customer Success Director at Babble. In this piece, she talks to us about her career journey to date, why joining the tech sector is her biggest achievement and what companies can to do support women in the industry.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I didn’t start my career in tech – I was initially a Buyer for major retailers such as Morrisons Supermarkets, JJB and American Golf. I held a variety of positions during my time in retail, including advising for some of the largest sports retailers in category buying and trading management. All these roles provided me with valuable skills that have helped me in my tech career.

After over 20 years in retail, I made the move to tech eight years ago when I joined Concert Networks, a specialist in VoIP telephony and connectivity. Initially, my role there involved assessing business performance to remove any inefficiencies and, as the company grew, to put robust processes in place to ensure the organisation kept up with the company’s rate of change.

I started at Concert Networks on a part-time basis, which then grew into additional days when I took on the role of Operations Director. Then as my interest and love for the company grew, I was asked to become the Managing Director which diversified my role and deepened my understanding of all aspects of the business.

Last year, Concert Networks was successfully acquired by Babble, and I was offered the opportunity to join Babble and set up a completely new function – Customer Success. The last ten months have been hectic and exciting, developing a function that sits as a jigsaw piece between Sales, Operations and Finance.

My team’s aim is to look at process improvements from the viewpoint of the customer. We want it to be easy to do business with Babble and we strive for speed of resolution on any issues to nurture a happy, satisfied, customer base. We do this by having a set of skilled tech professionals in the team, who each specialise in different pillars of the business, meaning they can quickly resolve any issues with their specific knowledge on a particular sector.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

During my Buying days I certainly did, but then the last eight years have happened without almost any planning. I didn’t plan to work in tech, but I am very glad I do now.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

There was one occasion when I was asked to execute a strategy I fundamentally disagreed with. I did what I would advise anyone to do in that situation, which was put my reasoning forward and offer an alternative. Unfortunately, on that occasion, it resulted in a parting of ways. I felt I would not be able to stick to my promises if I wasn’t engaged or working on a project I believed in. Knowing when to speak up and when to move on is important.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

Tech is an exciting place to work as it’s always evolving. I would say my biggest career achievement to date is joining the sector. It was a leap of faith after more than 20 years in a very different area of work, yet being able to transfer my skills and continue to develop them through consistent learning means I feel fulfilled and satisfied.

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What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

Integrity – I don’t play games. What you see is what you get. I take ownership.

I also always strive to be a true team player – I want everyone working with me to be the best they can be. They should be better than me in what they specialise in, as it’s impossible for me to know everything, and environments thrive when everyone is learning from each other.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Stay up to date and know what’s coming next and how that will affect your customers.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think success is based on the individual, whether male or female. It’s clear there are less women in tech, but if anyone entering tech is focused on what they want to achieve, I think they can overcome any barriers they face along the way.

To women, I’d say look for businesses that believe in your success and don’t focus on gender – they are out there.

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

It’s a sensitive subject but one we shouldn’t shy away from. Women on occasion want more flexibility than men. That isn’t to say men don’t – some do – but being mindful of this is crucial. However, I would advise people search for a business that offers flexibility and who want you on their team because you are great at the role, not because you are there five days a week, 9am to 5pm. More businesses should adopt this mentality too. Providing flexibility for all should be the future of work.

 If you are looking at a move to a tech company, ask yourself; what does their leadership team look like? What’s the mix when you look on LinkedIn? Reach out to people there. I’m fortunate Babble doesn’t hire people because we are filling a “female” quota – we look at “can you be brilliant in the role?” Gender doesn’t matter here, so seek out more businesses like Babble.

There are currently only 21 per cent of women working in tech. If you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Do more at high schools and let future generations know that it’s an option for all.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

WeAreTechWomen, obviously!