“Tell us about your time at the shelter. What did you learn about yourself?”
The question took Korinne Ward by surprise. She was interviewing for a job in Customer Support at Gravity and had been expecting her interviewers to prod her about her “relevant experience”–of which, she knew, she had very little. Instead they were asking her questions about her time working as a case manager at a homeless recovery shelter in Seattle.
“Oh,” she thought. “This company is different.”
Korinne started sharing details about her experience helping women and children at the shelter. She told her interviewers, Austin Roos and Edwin Dutton, that being on the front lines was emotionally challenging and that, although she loved working with and helping out kids and families, she started to question if pursuing a career in therapy was the right choice for her.
She explained how she decided to transition out of a therapeutic role to become a full-time nanny. For the next few years, she used this time to figure out what she truly wanted from her career. Noticing this, her friend Matt Dho encouraged her to apply for a position at Gravity, where he worked in Merchant Relations. Matt knew Korinne could really benefit the company because of her willingness and passion to help others, her empathetic nature, and her insatiable curiosity.
“I don’t know anything about the payment-processing industry,” Korinne told Matt. “Are you sure this is right for me?”
The question ultimately led her to an interview room with Austin and Edwin.
“What challenges did you face as a case manager?”
“When you were having tough days emotionally, how did you manage competing priorities?”
“How did stress impact your ability to help people?”
It was this type of holistic approach and line of questioning that made Korinne feel comfortable during the interview process. She could speak freely and confidently about the things she felt passionate about while also allowing Austin and Edwin to get a more accurate depiction of who she was as a person outside of titles, awards, or accolades. She realized this must matter more to them than her relative lack of experience in the industry. She was willing to learn, and Austin and Edwin saw her potential.
Korinne started on Gravity’s Support team in March 2016. Fast forward to today and you’ll find Korinne managing processes for the Development Team and spearheading her own Customer Success initiative.
So, how did she go from would-be therapist to charting her own course at Gravity?
She can sum up her answer with one word: questions.
Coming into an industry that is already purposely confusing, Korinne had to learn everything from scratch. So she began to ask as many questions as she could–during training, when she took the first few support calls on her own, and when she was weeks, months, and even a year into her position. She knew there was more to learn and challenged herself to keep doing so.
This resourcefulness enabled Korinne to chart a unique career path for herself at Gravity, one designed around spotting opportunities for improvement and taking the initiative to make changes, even in areas outside of her expertise.
About five months into her career at Gravity, one such challenge arose.
Korinne received a call from one of Gravity’s small business clients who was facing an issue that would find Korinne problem-solving for months to come. Eventually, the issue became complicated enough that CTO Tammi Kroll began rolling up her sleeves to see how she could help advocate for the merchant.
Korinne and Tammi worked tirelessly to find resolution. In the end, Korinne’s persistence and willingness to continue asking questions ended up benefiting the merchant, who was grateful for the team’s efforts to seek justice during a difficult time for them. Having observed Korinne’s tenacity while working with her on this issue, Tammi approached Korinne about interviewing for an open position on the Development Team. Once again, Korinne found herself in an interview room applying for a position where she would be completely outside her comfort zone. Ultimately, she proved herself and now works on the Development Team as a process owner, helping manage processes for dealing with incidents, changes, and problems that occur with the team’s products.
During Korinne’s first year with the Development Team, she made a deliberate choice not to limit her purpose. Working with processes and more data, she began to notice issues that directly impacted the very people Gravity had made it its mission to support: small business owners. The more familiar she became with the data she was pulling and the more she interacted with team members outside of Support and Development, she started realizing ways in which the company’s interactions with and support for merchants could become more consistent and proactive.
Korinne began exploring how she could apply Customer Success Management–a popular concept in the tech community that is foreign in payment processing–to Gravity. Her overall goal is to take all the data she can get her hands on to figure out ways to make Gravity’s clients happier and more successful.
Although she’s in the early stages of the program, the different teams she’s worked with have encouraged her to keep pushing forward; to keep exploring, tackling problems, and most importantly, to keep asking questions.