Kathy-Anne “KAM” McManus, Avid Chief Customer Experience Officer, talks to the Women’s International Music Network about whether she has seen more opportunities for women in technology, plus much more.
For many years, Avid has been a major global name in audio and video communities, offering a wide range of hardware, software and software subscription, and software as a service (SaaS) solutions, including its Pro Tools digital audio workstation.
The company recently expanded the role of Kathy-Anne “KAM” McManus, its senior vice president, global customer solutions and services. McManus is now also Avid’s CCXO (chief customer experience officer). In this newly created position, she calls upon her vast experience in both media technology and customer satisfaction to lead the design and implementation of ongoing companywide programs and processes that ensure an excellent user experience across all touchpoints, whether they are a first-time user, part of a seasoned media team or anyone in between.
McManus shares her thoughts on what she hopes to achieve, the landscape of women in technology and advice for offering exceptional customer service.
Women’s International Music Network (The WiMN): Congratulations on your recent promotion, and for being a pioneer in this newly created role! What was the impetus behind the creation of this new position?
Kathy-Anne McManus: As Avid continues its journey into SaaS models, we need to focus on what it takes to ensure the customer has a positive experience — from the beginning of the purchasing process, when the customer explores buying our products and then placing an order, to licensing and onboarding, to the ongoing support and continuous adoption of our products and solutions. Customers expect a faster time to value, and customer onboarding is critical to how a customer rates their experience.
As CCXO, I will ensure that all functions across Avid can collectively deliver the greatest possible satisfaction and value for all types of customers, including creative individuals, production teams and media enterprises, in every interaction throughout their journey.
The WiMN: What kind of experiences do you hope customers have using Avid products? Is there an overarching mission when it comes to customer experience at the company?
McManus: Everything we do at Avid is focused on enabling our customers to become more creative with their content and more successful in their businesses. We’re extending our customercentric mindset to every type of engagement, whether that’s a music student downloading and subscribing to Pro Tools in the Avid Store for the very first time, or a massive media company with a global footprint of deployed Avid products that’s now transitioning to the cloud. Every touchpoint can inspire our customers and repeatedly affirm they’ve made the right choice with Avid.
The overarching mission is for every Avid employee, no matter what their role is in the company, to think about customer experience in everything that they do. It’s not just how a customer uses or experiences our products and services, it’s every touchpoint — like searching our website, receiving an invoice, making a payment or calling one of our global offices. The customer experience is everything.
The WiMN: The technology landscape has changed greatly since most of us were kids. What are some of the events that first led you to pursue a career in technology, particularly at Avid?
McManus: I knew before I left high school that I wanted to work in television. I studied as a television engineer in college. In the mid-‘80s, I was one of only three women in the program of 40 students. After college, I was employed at a leading Australian television network, editing news and then current affairs, documentaries and reality programs. A few years later, I was able to combine my love of technology with production when I took my first role at Avid running customer services and designing and building the Avid training portfolio in Australia. There were very few women in technical roles in the early ‘90s, and it was a constant battle to prove that I had the ability and experience to be in those roles when my peers and managers were all men. That said, I was blessed to have wonderful male role models very early on who always supported me. They encouraged me to push forward and helped me be the best I could be, reaffirming that gender had no relevance to my skills and experience. Those men are all still in my personal and professional life today and I am forever grateful for their support and encouragement during those early years in technical roles.
The WiMN: Have you seen more opportunities for women in tech roles over the years, specifically in the audiovisual industry?
McManus: Definitely! Particularly in the last 10 years. As more women rise up to senior roles and executive positions and actively support other up-and-coming women, I’ve seen many more doors open and opportunities created and filled by talented women. Over the years, I’ve created a wonderful professional network that I pride myself on staying in touch with, as well as mentoring talent locally and around the world. To maintain the momentum, women need to continue to pay it forward. They need to give their time and encouragement to young women entering the media and entertainment industry and create and nurture strong professional networks. For example, giving references for good talent and helping them find jobs that allow them to demonstrate their experience.
My network of relationships, of people who have worked both for me and alongside me, along with customers I’ve done business with for years, has helped me on my journey. That’s the secret sauce to success. Relationships [are] built on trust and integrity.
The WiMN: Like many other companies in the audiovisual industry, your customer database is presumably comprised more heavily of males. What are some ways you plan to encourage or invite more women to use Avid products?
McManus: I’m thrilled to see the number of women entering the industry, not just in creative roles, but in technical roles too. We still have a long way to go, but I believe we’ve made a great deal of progress. There are two key imperatives for the industry. First, promote and encourage women and demonstrate that it’s an attractive and exciting industry to be a part of. Second, create a smooth journey that provides opportunities for young women to succeed and progress in their career.
Some of the ways we’re inviting more women to use our products and services is by providing programs and forums that attract not only women, but the next generation of users and creatives. We provide communities and forums where people can promote their skills, like the Avid Link mobile app and Avid Community forums.
We nominate young women and men to join our Avid Customer Association committees and to provide their voice and experience into our company strategy and our next generation of products and services. Throughout this year, Avid is supporting the many associations and forums that support women in the media and entertainment industry and encouraging other businesses in the industry to support our rising female talent as well.
The WiMN: In closing, from your perspective, what advice would you give to the women in our audience running a small business or offering a service to customers, in order to retain happy customers?
McManus: People skills are your greatest asset. Understand the business of your clients and really listen to their needs. Always go that extra mile in treating your clients’ businesses and money as if they’re your own. You will gain their trust and demonstrate that their business is in safe hands: yours.
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