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Women In Tech3

Career Journey of Zoey Cigar-Hodge, Customer Success Enablement Lead.

 Where did you grow up and what were you like as a child? What did your parents do for work? 

I grew up the youngest of my parents' three children in Los Angeles, California. As a child, I was someone who was very quiet but once you got to know me you knew that I was also very outspoken, bold, and opinionated. In middle and high school I was very social and a part of a lot of different clubs like the Watts/Willowbrook Boys and Girls Club, step team, Junior Statesmen of America (JSA), journalism, and most formidable Minds Matter of Los Angeles. My parents were working class people, and they raised me very humbly in Compton, South Central Los Angeles. My mom and dad were separated, however, my mom was an educator and childcare worker while my dad worked in telecommunications and he also has his own business where he installs security cameras. 

Zoey Cigar-Hodge Mimecast

Where and what did you study, and what did you do after graduating? 

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in American Studies. I originally wanted to study public health given the high school I graduated from was a magnet school focused on medicine and science. I had a few work study experiences in public health that made me realize public health is not for me. After graduating, I moved to NYC and worked odd jobs until one day I got a reply for a temporary receptionist role that led to a permanent role on the sales team of one of the fastest growing startups and that is how I got my start in tech. 

Zoey Cigar-Hodge Mimecast

 

What inspired you to get into the tech industry?

I wasn't traditionally inspired to get into tech, I just stumbled into it. I thought of tech as just being software engineers however, it is so much more than that. I honestly feel this has also contributed to my success in the tech industry because I am not your traditional tech employee thus I am more creative in my approach to the work I do. 

What has your career path looked like in tech and the various positions you’ve held before joining Mimecast? 

My career path in tech has been non-traditional. I started off my career in a sales role and was so good at that role as a loan officer that when the opportunity presented itself as the company was growing I applied to be a sales trainer. It was a lateral move for me that opened up opportunities to learn new skills and understand the foundations of enablement and corporate training. After my role as a trainer I was a Sales Enablement Manager at another startup and I was able to update their playbooks and this opportunity with Mimecast came about through a recruiter that came across my profile on LinkedIn who told me about the role, and it was the perfect fit given my prior experiences. 

 

Can you share the high-level responsibilities of your current position as a Customer Success Enablement Lead at Mimecast?

As the Customer Success (CS) Enabler I ensure the CS department is equipped with the tools they need in their role. On any given day I manage and build their learning management system courses and reference guides, organize change management, communicate product updates, and messaging from marketing to our customers to CS of our new products. We also host an annual Enablement event for our Go-To Market teams called Amplify which is our quarterly event focused on a hot topic like new company messaging, or the value we provide our customers. In my role, I also generate reporting to create measurements and data processes to demonstrate impact and adoption of programming. 

Zoey Cigar-Hodge Mimecast

What has attributed to your success thus far and what types of obstacles have you had to overcome along the way as a Black professional? 

From a very young age, I have always been intentional about my success and have always looked for opportunities and programs that I can be a part of to get to the next level. In high school, I was part of a program called Minds Matter of Los Angeles which connects driven and determined students from low income families with mentors and college preparation resources to succeed in college and beyond. Outside of the work I was doing in my day to day at school and extracurricular activities, this program really helped me to be competitive in the college admissions process through providing college prep and exposure to college environments and attending summer college programs at Cornell University and Johns Hopkins University. After graduating college though, I was unafraid and moved to NYC to pursue my dreams and live life on my own terms and I was willing to learn and most importantly adapt. One of the most important lessons I learned early on was to adapt and hustle, to think critically, and figure out how to get things done and through this, I have constantly learned and gained new skills along the way. 

What advice would you give to other Black professionals who are interested in joining the tech industry? 

Be intentional and take the time to understand your value in relation to the company and role you are applying for 9 times out of 10 you are qualified and beyond talented however, you may not fully understand your skillset and how that will positively impact the team and company you are looking to join. The last piece of advice I would give is to join professional networks in relation for the role you are looking for and listen to podcasts and attend any relevant conferences they may have as these are often opportunities to learn market news and trends so you know what new skills and tools you need to learn.  

While general awareness of the problem of diversity in the tech industry is a step forward, to make a lasting change, real actions need to be taken.  Do you have any ideas or suggestions on what companies or employees can do to step up and make a difference?

For companies, it is nice to have employee resource groups (ERGs) but also ensure they have a budget to host engaging programs that provide a true network and resources employees can use. Also ensure there are professional development resources that have the potential to prepare your workforce for their next role, or continuously develop in their current role. 

For employees, if your company has a referral program, extend referrals outside of your immediate network to diverse candidates looking for an opportunity in tech. Whenever you have the opportunity, pay it forward through serving as a mentor, being a champion for diversity in tech, and an ambassador to your company. 

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