People at PPO: Jamie Poholko, Customer Success Manager

Jamie talking to customers in front of Smart Imaging SystemCurious to know more about the team at PPO? “People at PPO” is a blog series that highlights our team’s daily work. In each post, we interview one of our team members to get an inside view of PPO and to learn about their experience working here. Join us as we tell their stories and discover how their work impacts the technology we build.

In this post, we talked to Jamie Poholko, Customer Success Manager. We discussed customer success and what that means to him. Here’s what he had to say:

JA: Hi Jamie, thanks so much for taking the time to chat today!

JP: No problem!

JA: Let’s dive right in. Before joining PPO, what did you do and how did you discover the role of a Customer Success Manager?

JP: My first job when I moved to Ontario from Alberta was at a tech company in Waterloo. I worked as an onsite technician doing maintenance and support. I then transitioned into a supervisor role, followed by a sales and a leadership role. These experiences were the catalyst for me to get into customer success. They taught me how to support customers from a relationship side. Doing sales and service got me to a point where I can navigate how to support customer goals and needs. All of this happened before the term customer success was coined. Customer success as a role has been around for more than 20 years and became mainstream about 15 years ago. Before that, it was account sales and management. In the realm of B2B, you don’t see account manager titles that often any more. The customer success role focuses on relationship building and upselling.  

JA: It’s so neat to hear that you were gaining customer success experience before the role was defined. How has your previous experience prepared you for your role at PPO?

JP: In my previous experience, I was fortunate enough to work in many manufacturing industries. Although I’ve worked in a lot of different industries, there are a lot of parallels in manufacturing. Whether you’re processing chicken or building airplanes, they follow the same process to deliver a product to a customer. I used to work with a big airplane manufacturing company.  I found that how they make an airplane has the same structure, process, and mechanics as meat processing. There might be fewer rungs on the ladder and how they manufacture is different but the way the business operates is all the same. So, I’m able to leverage all my previous experience navigating those relationships at different levels at a plant and organization to my role at PPO. 

JA: What do you do at PPO?

JP: My job involves managing projects, making connection points, leading stakeholder meetings inside PPO,and being the voice of the customer at PPO so their voices are heard. After a system has been sold by the sales team, it’s handed off to the project management team to get the system ready for the plant. When it’s handed off to the project management team, I’m there in the background of those meetings to get a high-level understanding of what’s happening. Once the system is delivered to the plant, that’s when I pivot from observer to project owner. At that point, I manage the ongoing customer experience and journey as well as act as the main point of contact. I communicate ongoing development efforts and delivery of services that we provide such as maintenance and software updates. This includes setting up customer calls and visits. During these meetings, I try to understand their current challenges and where we can help. When we do have face-to-face meetings, we can tease out those challenges and touch on other parts of the business because we’re not limited to one specific topic like a virtual meeting. 

And the last part of my job is building new relationships with existing customers in different functions. For example, if we wanted to do a webinar with a customer, I would be building relationships and searching for those opportunities. In all of my tasks, I act as the bridge between the customer and the PPO team. It’s like herding sheep. I make sure no one gets lost and everyone is heading in the same direction towards the goal.

JA: I didn’t think about it like that. Along the same line, what excites you about customer success?

JP: Meeting new people and supporting your customer’s goals. The goal for the customers we support is to reduce foreign material in their product and not have a ton of rejections. Working towards meeting their needs is what drives and excites me about the solution we have. It’s easy for a customer to see value when we meet their needs.

Jamie and Brad looking at a laptopJA: What does customer success mean to you and why is it important?

JP: If your product doesn’t have or isn’t providing value to the customer, there’s no reason for you to be there. That’s a critical piece. The objective of a customer success manager is to make sure the customer is always seeing value from your offering – whether it’s hardware or software. The basis of success is building bridges, connecting with people, and understanding how the product is providing value.

JA: What has PPO achieved in the last year with the customer success team?

JP: Before the customer success team, we didn’t have any successful customer installation. Now, we have referenceable customers that have systems that are fully commissioned and in use in our customer’s plants. The customer success team and I had a large hand communication which was seamless throughout the organization. In the last year, we’ve also optimized our processes and procedures which we’ve learned from and can standardize.

JA: Now looking to the future, where do you see PPO’s solution and customer success team in the future?

JP: In the future, we will get to a point where we scale and can repeat the process and get the same results each time. I also see a very bright future for PPO where every meat processor in the world will have one of our systems. When I was talking with Craig, our COO, he said “I don’t know why there wouldn’t be one in every plant everywhere, it’s such game-changing technology that there’s nothing but success here.” He best explained my thoughts on how this technology will innovate in the food space. There’s nothing but positive outcomes with our system being installed. 

JA: It’s exciting to hear that the future is bright for PPO. What’s your favourite thing about working at PPO?

JP: One of my favourite things about working at PPO is the people. The work environment is very collaborative. I get to work with a lot of different teams and everyone is eager to help out. On top of that, the leadership team is very humble – they really put the needs of the company and the team above themselves. 

I also really like how flexible we are with work. We get flex days which are additional days off in addition to our vacation. It’s nice to have those extra days to do something with the kids.

The last thing I like about PPO is working with cutting-edge technology. I’ve never worked at a company where the technology is new to the industry and we’re changing how meat is processed. It’s neat to be part of up-and-coming technology.

JA: Last question, what’s your favourite food?

JP: Definitely steak with blue cheese, caprese salad and a baguette. Don’t forget the glass of red wine with your meal. And for dessert, a Baked Alaska with an espresso. My favourite restaurant to get this meal at is Harbour Sixty in Toronto.

JA: That sounds decadent! Next time I’m in Toronto and if I want an exquisite meal, I’ll stop by Harbour Sixty. Thanks again Jamie for taking the time to chat with us.

JP: Thank you!

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