Great leaders understand that the principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to creating a successful and sustainable work environment.
One rising leader who has centered that understanding in her work while growing a vast network of thought leaders, business executives, and creatives as part of her role producing the world’s most extensive customer contact event series, Customer Contact Week (CCW), is none other than Sandy Ko.
Sandy is an award-winning analyst, producer, and Founder & Principal of Customer Contact Women (CCWomen) at Customer Management Practice (CMP).
Sandy attended Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Mason Gross School of the Arts in 2007, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education in 2011. Since then, Sandy has pursued a fulfilling career in event operations at CMP where she produces CCW, a customer contact event series laser-focused on the people, processes, and technologies that drive the customer function in businesses across the full range of sectors and industries.
While growing in the customer contact industry, Sandy noticed the need for a space for women and allies to celebrate women and to support them in their careers. This led Sandy to create Customer Contact Women (CCWomen). Since its inception in 2018, CCWomen has been a force for diversity, equity, and inclusion, while allowing Sandy to actualize her passion for driving innovation and success through community.
Let’s get a view of her story through this interview carried out by Insights Success.
What challenges did you face along the way?
Early in my career, I did not have mentors, coaches, or sponsors to help me in my career development. I knew I had the work ethic, intelligence, and creativity it takes to succeed, but I didn’t know how to bring these qualities to bear in a valuable way that leaders would recognize. I thought I had to do it all on my own – I didn’t know that I needed guidance to grow or an environment to foster my creativity and develop my career.
All changed when I came to CMP. My manager and the company president were supportive and saw my potential. They helped to build a welcoming office that provided the opportunity for my skills and ideas to flourish. I’ve also had the good fortune to connect with mentors in and out of the customer contact space who have been crucial in championing me and shining a spotlight on my strengths and accomplishments.
These mentors helped me overcome the many challenges that I faced in my career. They pushed me to be my best self and pursue my goals so that I could be a force for change.
What significant impact have you brought to the Business Development industry?
I’m most proud of creating and developing CCWomen. I’m passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and CCWomen has been an incredible way to grow that passion while elevating underrepresented voices. Building CCWomen has been a joy, and I’m so excited to bring more people together to see what we have to offer.
CCWomen is the first and only group of its kind in the customer contact space. We offer our members vital support through networking, mentorship, and career development opportunities. Our CCWomen community features women leaders and allies from across industries and generations who share their expertise and vision on the most critical issues facing women in customer contact. Moreover, our topic-focused events provide the tangible resources and tools to women that they need to excel and be successful in their careers.
As the Founder and Principal of CCWomen, I get to use my excellent project and process management skills to foster strategic relationships with stakeholders from diverse backgrounds. And it’s no secret that when diverse voices come together, the job gets done!
How does CMP promote workforce flexibility, and what is your role in it?
CMP consists of a group of innovative, smart, and passionate individuals. We thrive on collaboration and are motivated by the growth potential of our business. We celebrate our achievements and work together to overcome our challenges. In order to tap into every individual’s passion and innovation, CMP provides flexibility with work hours, remote work, generous PTO, and wellbeing days, which are important now more than ever. It’s a great situation for someone like me – I’m ambitious and selfmotivated, but I’m often most productive outside of the typical office environment. I continue to advocate for flexibility to accommodate each individual’s needs because everyone learns and works in different ways. I know that cultivating a flexible workforce supports our team’s growth and fuels its passion.
What is your take on technology’s importance, and how are you leveraging it?
Technology helps you and your company move forward because the world is constantly evolving. It’s crucial to the success of your business and for your internal and external stakeholders. You need to leverage the right technology at the right time, and it has to enhance workflows and experiences.
I’m leveraging technology to conduct market research and analyze data in real time to produce a seamless and whiteglove experience for the CCWomen community. Doing so will help me drive better business decisions and enhance the reach of CCWomen in the future.
Additionally, the digital portal for CCWomen will be launching soon! It’s a custom-built digital asset that will utilize the latest and greatest in custom software development to better support the CCWomen community beyond live event interactions.
What will be the next significant change in Market Research, and how are you preparing for it?
We need to have a better read on the pulse of our customers. In order to do that, we need to be better listeners and be more inclusive in the research we conduct. Market Research needs to reflect more accurately our rapidly evolving world. Technology can support this transformation, but we need to deliver human experiences as well to prepare for that change. Build and foster relationships with your community where honest conversations can take place and go beyond traditional market research approaches.
What are your goals in the future?
My goals are to continue to grow personally and professionally by advocating for women from all backgrounds and all walks of life. It’s absolutely essential that we communicate the power of the CCWomen community to help build a world for women by women and allies. Women are vital to business, and CCWomen is the perfect way to support women’s involvement in every aspect of it.
Together with our allies, women can be, and are, a force for change and advancement in the customer contact space and the world at large.
What advice would you like to give the next generation of aspiring business leaders?
Do good work, be at the top of your game, and take the time to include others. Be the best you can be because the fight is not over. You have to do the work while helping others along the way.
In order to stay ahead, you have to be the absolute best you can be. This justifies why you should get that raise, and why executives should give you that opportunity. It will give you the authority to stand on your own two feet and ask for what you deserve based on your skills, experiences, knowledge, and accomplishments. It’s hard for someone to say no to you when you are the best of the best. You need to leverage your skills to stand out from your competitors. And if you’re able to do that, you’ll inspire others to do the best work they’re capable of.
Most importantly, as you move up the ladder and become successful, always take the time to offer a hand to those who are struggling.