Meet Ellie

by Jennifer Harper
Success Stories10 min read

Meet Ellie, whose career has progressed from trainee teacher to campaign management, business development management and customer success management.

Once a trainee teacher, Ellie has also worked as a campaigns manager, a business development manager, and is currently a customer success manager in London. Her decision to move away from teaching occurred when she realised that the amount of positive impact she could have as a teacher would be limited as a result of the bureaucracy within the sector.

She did not know that she would end up working in a fintech startup at the time, but each step of the change process allowed Ellie to discover more about what type of work she enjoyed, and more about which direction she wanted to take her career.

Ellie shares here how changing careers helped her to build her confidence, helped her to refocus, and allowed her to transition into completely new industries while learning along the way.

Name: Ellie Ibbetson

Location: London

Current position: Customer Success Manager (CSM) at GoCardless

Previous job: Trainee teacher, then Campaigns Manager at Catalyst for Good Causes. A few months later she became the Business Development Manager (BDM) for its sister organisation called Tech Trust.

When did you begin this process of change? 

I left teaching in January 2015. I started at Tech Trust in March 2015.

What prompted you to make the change? 

I made a change because I found the bureaucracy in teaching difficult. I originally chose teaching as a profession because I had a passion for the subject I wanted to teach, and really wanted a career where I could give something back and see the impact of what I was doing on other people.

Did you know what you wanted to move into? 

When I left teaching, I knew that I wanted to continue to do something that had a tangible impact, which is what led me to work at a charity and now to my role at GoCardless. I moved to work in the financial subsidiary at Tech Trust as the business development manager, where I was responsible for developing and managing existing and new product streams, and it was this role that helped me decide a very clear career path.

Working in a very small organisation gave me exposure and opportunities that I wouldn’t have had in a larger company, and this meant that my role as a BDM was very multi-faceted. I drove new business, managed banking relationships, managed the existing client base, carried out payment operations and was able to work closely with the management team.

It was from this varied experience that I knew I predominantly enjoyed working in financial services and working strategically with clients to ensure that they were able to derive as much value as possible from the services that we offered.

Did you face any obstacles? 

Absolutely, the move from the charity sector into fintech was not easy. Without experience in that industry, being able to convince people that you are committed to it and have genuine motivations to work within it was not an easy task. This essentially meant that I had to face many rejections when I had decided that this was the industry that I wanted to work in. It was important to be resilient and persevere.

Do you feel like you made the right decision? 

I am certain that I made the right decision. I wasn’t happy teaching, and when I chose to move from the charity sector into the world of fintech it was because I had found an area that really interested me. I think that the changes I made in my career path helped to give me the skills that I use every day at work now, so there is no doubt in my mind that I made the right decision.

Have you changed as a person since you changed career? 

Absolutely. Although I believe that my values are the same, changing career has allowed me to re-focus and therefore I believe that I have grown in confidence and am more prepared to use my voice to challenge situations that I may not have done so before.

Are you using any of the same abilities for both careers? 

Again, absolutely. The abilities that involve reading people and situations that I used when teaching are completely applicable to my role now as a CSM. Also, the skills needed to develop relationships are very present in both careers. I have also been able to use my language skills during my time at GoCardless.

What are your future career goals? 

I see myself in the tech world for the foreseeable future and my goal is to stay in customer success. I enjoy sharing my learnings with others so would like to build on that and progress into a leadership position with CS.

What advice would you give to someone looking to make a career change? 

Do it! It’s important that you do your research to equip you in the best way possible to make a change, but remember that you do not need to be the finished article. Demonstrating your passion to learn and do something new goes a long way and someone will recognise that. If you know that you want to make a change, talk to people, listen but don’t be put off by those who say you cannot change: you definitely can.

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