Before Vickie Lamb started working at Sycamore as a Product Specialist, she was a Technology Coordinator for St. Therese, a Sycamore-based school located in Kansas City, MO. Gretchen King, who works in the QA department for Sycamore, was a Super User working at Sioux Falls Lutheran in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in a multitude of positions for the school.
Vickie and Gretchen are invaluable members of our Sycamore team that contribute to almost ⅓ of our employees that used to work in Sycamore schools. We sat down with Vickie and Gretchen to discuss their transitions from these Sycamore schools, as well as insight into working with Sycamore as both a customer and employee.
How has working at a school that used Sycamore given you an advantage now that you’re an employee at Sycamore?
GK: It’s less of a learning curve, for sure. It cuts way down on the amount of hours I’d have to spend learning something totally brand new. I’m still learning new things about Sycamore, of course, but it’s a great product, and when you have a great product, it makes you eager to learn it and use it more.
VL: For me, it’s the relationship aspect, especially since I’m so heavily involved in the sales process. I can talk with a customer with the knowledge that I’ve been in their same shoes on the school side of things, so the relationship I have with customers based on my experience at a Sycamore school is a really big factor.
What are some of the challenges you faced working at the school level that those who do not work at a school might not realize?
VL: From working with Sycamore as a customer, you get accustomed to your same features and areas of the site you are in every day. What becomes tricky is when you start to use new features — that can be quite challenging. What helped me, and what I always tell schools, in regard to using the help manual for assistance, is use the left-hand side of the page to navigate to the exact area you’re wanting to learn more about. If you type in the Search bar, you’re going to be overwhelmed with the results that generate. Know what you’re looking for and narrow it down.
GK: I know teachers are extremely busy, and if you’re not around teachers/school each day, you sometimes lose sight of that. I know teachers can sometimes get frustrated when they see all the steps they have to complete to perform a certain task, so that can be challenging for them when they have so much going on. Not all teachers are the same, either, as there’s a wide range of knowledge in regard to tech-savviness. Steps to perform under the help manual may make sense to one teacher, but it may be way over the head of another teacher. These are the things you notice and observe on the school side.
Why is it important for Sycamore to hire so many employees that worked for schools with the Sycamore product?
VL: Well, it comes full-circle. We know the product. On Sycamore’s end, it helps because they don’t have to spend as much time training a new employee who knows nothing about Sycamore. On my end, it helped pull back the curtain to see how everything operates at Sycamore and what policies/procedures are put in place to help schools succeed with this product. I came from the Diocese of Kansas City, so I was able to add my knowledge as to how dioceses are run, as well as the political workings of said dioceses and schools.
GK: It brings a lot of insight to the company. Being at the school, we pick up and notice things that Sycamore is not able to see on an everyday basis, so our knowledge/expertise helps Sycamore grow and develop as a company going forward.
Has working at Sycamore given you a greater appreciation for the product, or did you learn things about Sycamore you did not realize on the school side?
VL: Oh, for sure. It goes back to the Customer Support team for me. I knew they were awesome when I was a customer, but I have an even greater appreciation for them now that I know them on a personal basis and interact with them daily. To this day, they still are people I lean on with various questions/concerns a customer may bring up when I’m doing a webinar demonstration. They are fantastic! And I am still learning new things about Sycamore every single day. There is always something new to learn!
GK: Absolutely! For starters, you realize the limitations and possibilities. As a customer, I think sometimes we get so anxious for a certain enhancement or feature that Sycamore doesn’t currently provide, that we think the developers can just press a button and give us what we’re looking for! Obviously, that’s not how it works, as there are many layers to that process. Not to mention, all the different programs that are used on the Sycamore side of things was an eye-opening experience for me that I’m still learning and getting used to.