Ann Kitare: Head of Customer Success (B2C), Fuzu
Building a team from scratch, maintaining continuity in the face of staff turnover and being comfortable with your team’s motivations
About our Guest
This episode’s conversation is with Ann Kitare from Kenya. Ann is an experienced Head of Customer Success, having served both B2C and B2B clients across Africa and globally, with a particular passion for the internet industry. In her 8 years at Fuzu, talent development and placement platform, she has honed her skills in user research, customer relationship management, and leadership.
Everyday Leadership in Action
Here are a few highlights from the conversation with Ann:
Building from scratch requires embracing that you don’t yet have all the answers: Ann joined Fuzu in 2014, a year after it was founded, and was hired as the company’s first employee based in Kenya, supporting the founders based in Finland. She found herself needing to build out a lot of processes from scratch. It gave her a sense of ownership but was focused mostly on individual contribution in her first role as a Project and Research Assistant. Since she was helping establish the brand in its first key market, she grew accustomed to quickly learning on the spot, which she said meant acknowledging that she didn’t have all of the answers but would need to work hard to find them on the go through research and market engagement.
Establish structures to maintain continuity in the face of staff turnover at startups: Like most fast-moving startups, Fuzu has experienced its own share on team turnover. Ann has seen many people come and go throughout her 8 year tenure, and has personally kept the talent-focused mission on her mind to create a sense of continued purpose. She has also helped shape the necessary internal processes and structures to ensure ease of handovers so the engine keeps moving, including individual growth plans to provide more predictability for career planning. She even points to the benefit of new staff coming in with different ideas, which has helped her team evolve over time.
Be comfortable with your team members pursuing other professional goals: Ann has worked on her leadership skill of keeping her team members motivated. She does this in part by taking time to understand each person’s personal and professional motivations. She then makes sure to find ways to align their work and conversations on these motivations, even if they are not exactly related to the role or even their company or industry. This is particularly relevant in the new age of increased gig work, where professionals often have options and skills they can put to work alongside their work with you.
The Everyday Leader is a podcast featuring conversations with leaders from across Africa’s companies, organizations, and governments about their experience managing teams and projects throughout their careers.
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