"Women can make a change in tech as well”
– Nadia Varekamp, Customer Success Manager
She claims she knew next to nothing about technology when she first walked in the door. Now she’s a proud spokesperson for getting more women to grab the opportunity and get into tech.
Hey Nadia, you started your career in a completely different field – working with children and families. How come you made the shift to the world of technology?
“Yeah, I have no background in technology whatsoever. I did two masters in forensic family studies and clinical adolescent studies, because I wanted to help children. Or so I thought. I liked it for a while, but eventually came to the conclusion that I brought too much work with me home. I wanted to be a happy person, but I wasn’t. Then I worked at a restaurant for a couple of years, which is where I met my then boyfriend, now husband. He encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. I saw this job ad for Visma, and didn’t think I was qualified for it. But he was like, ‘you need to give this a go!’ So I went for an interview and they were like, we like you. And I was like, I like it here too. There was a great vibe. And now I’ve already been here for four years.”
And we’re so glad you’re with us! Over the years you’ve had various positions – starting out as a sales consultant. How has your view on technology changed?
“It’s changed completely. I didn’t know anything about technology at first. Women generally speak too little about technology, I feel. If I had been interested in it when I was younger, I think I would’ve been gazed at as weird. Today, technology to me is about shaping the future, and Visma wants to have a leading role in that change. I also think it’s necessary to get more girls into technology, although it’s really hard to accomplish. The more I’m into this job, the more I feel that women can make a change in tech as well. In high school, not once was I asked if I wanted to go into technology. It was always about children, psychology or nursing. Now technology gives me goosebumps and I hope it’s more common to talk to girls about tech in high school now than it was when I was in high school.”
“In high school, not once was I asked if I wanted to go into technology. It was always about children, psychology or nursing. Now technology gives me goosebumps”
Yes, let’s hope! So your view on girls in the tech industry has also changed?
“Yes, like when a guy plays video games all night long, it's viewed as it's part of being a guy. When I was younger and I wanted to play video games or whatever, they would view that as ‘no, Nadia, you're a girl.’ And it wasn't my parents, because my parents are the best people in encouraging me to do what I love. But people around me had that view, I think, making me feel like it wasn’t for me. That’s why I was really happy about this one conversation I had with my manager Micha. He said ‘I think you fit perfectly in this organisation’ and I was like ‘Are you sure? Because I don’t have a background in technology. But I’m willing to learn’. And he went ‘well, that’s the only thing we need, the will to learn.’ He’s been my inspiration and motivation since then, helping me to push myself to become the best version I can be, both personally and professionally.”
Do you have any other examples of how technology could help change in the future?
“If you look at Visma, we incorporate a lot of companies now that are directly linked to health care. I think technology is broader than we expected it to be in the beginning. I’m excited to see what’s in store for us in the future, because the possibilities are endless now. In the future, there’ll be nothing that Visma hasn't done, touched or tried to find the answer to. That's what I love about being here, you never know what's going to happen next. And I think it’s going to be even greater in the future.”
Your job title probably includes a lot more than what we’d think. When you talk to your friends and family, how do you describe what you do?
“Well, a Customer Success Manager is such a broad concept. I often say that I'm helping our customers find the answers they didn’t know they needed. I love having conversations with customers. If they’re like, ‘I’ve got this type of problem’ or ‘I’m struggling with this’, I’m like, okay, let’s go and find the answer together. In that sense, I'm more of an explorer. They all have dreams and visions. And I'm just a part of it, trying to make it better and making sure they achieve their goals. I think that’s the best way to explain what I do.”
“In the future, there’ll be nothing that Visma hasn't done, touched or tried to find the answer to. That's what I love about being here, you never know what's going to happen next.”
What kind of issues are you helping them solve?
“Customers who are new to the software don’t know how to use it. There’s a lot of IDR technology and new AI. It's amazing to witness it. Sometimes our customers are unaware of what we’re capable of, and then when you start working with them, they’re like ‘oh this makes my work life easier.’ It’s awesome to see them loving the new technology instead of regretting it. A lot of people think that technology will take jobs away because the workload is reduced. But our purpose isn’t to take their jobs away. Our purpose is to make them enjoy what they want to do and free their time to make their life easier. And I love being that spokesperson for my customers.”
I’m sure they love you too! We know you to be a true customer lover – getting to know them beyond the “formal work talk”. How would you describe your relationship with them?
“Yes, I definitely like getting to know my customers. People working in companies are just that: people. The customers I’ve had for years tell me about their private stuff, what their hopes and dreams are and I tell them about mine. I realised that we’re actually a little part of their hopes and dreams, because we’re making sure they have time for it. The most amazing part of my job is when a customer says ‘Nadia, we could grow 30% instead of 5% last year due to your software.’ That’s so awesome, but we can still do better. We still need to improve our technology. I think once we stop looking for answers, that’s when we go wrong.”
“The most amazing part of my job is when a customer says, ’Nadia, we could grow 30% instead of 5% last year due to your software’. That’s so awesome, but we can still do better.”
And as for colleagues and new people joining the company, we know you keep a leading rule for yourself. What’s that?
“Yes, when we get new colleagues, instead of walking in front of them, I like to follow them and see where they can take me. New perspectives, new things, asking things like ‘hey, I created this four years ago. Is it still as good as I think it is, or should we change it?’ And if they say we should change something, I’m like ‘okay, let's try it.’ If it's a better solution, why not change it? And why not get an enthusiastic person who worked here for six months a try?”
You like to call your colleagues your family, which maybe isn’t so weird, considering you spend about 40 hours with them every week. What’s your company culture like?
“It's definitely like a family. People here excite me, they always have my back and challenge me in every way. I feel at home here. I hope that feeling never changes because it's very hard to find a place where you can be yourself and surrounded by people with the same aspirations. We always, always care for each other. I think that applies to all the companies. I’m pretty sure that if I walked into another Visma office, I’d feel comfortable because we have the same vision and passion. We share the same view on how we want to contribute to the world.”