Lou Sumner

Country: United Kingdom
Sector: Internet & Software
Job title: Customer Success Manager
Subject of study: Drama
Year of graduation: 1998
Type/Level of study: Undergraduate

Current Employer/Organisation Name

Sage People

What have you been doing since leaving Exeter, and what are you doing now?

After leaving Exeter in 1998, having graduated from a degree in drama, I started working as an IT trainer. In the early 2000’s I went to work for Oxford University firstly as a trainer and communications specialist implementing a new student system, and moved through various process and policy related roles (often involving managing implementation support of systems and websites) ending up leading teams related to both undergraduate and graduate student administration. In 2019 I decided to leave the University, and work for a software company specialising in HR systems. My previous roles had given me lots of experience with both software, people, and HR so this was an interesting combination for me. I now support people teams in businesses all over the world to make best use of their HR systems to support the changing face of HR and people functions.

Why did you choose this career? And what do you enjoy most about your work?

If I’m being honest, I rather fell into a career in training, and then student administration. I toyed with being a teacher for a little while, and indeed an actor, but neither of those paid off. My career in University administration evolved through being good at change management, and I was lucky enough to have a number of different opportunities along the way to grow and progress into relatively senior roles. My latest role outside the HE sector has seen me step back from line management and focus more on my work life balance, which I am really enjoying. I love being able to directly help and support people with tough decisions and challenges, and my role allows me to do this on a daily basis.

What did you enjoy most about your programme and what was the biggest highlight?

I loved my whole time Exeter. The teachers and my fellow students in the Department were fantastic, and it was a great community to be a part of. We worked hard and played hard. Highlights for me were adapting and directing Ibsen, and our practical essays which had us working collectively together to produce great original shows.

What did you enjoy most about studying here?

Studying at Exeter provided a great balance between life and university, and I very much enjoyed my broader life with Exeter as home. That helped me to integrate my studies and broader life in a very comfortable and manageable way.

Why did you choose to study at Exeter?

Great course, great location, great opportunity.

What skills and experiences have been most useful for your career?

The ability to really listen and ask questions that are supportive and produce insight. A good understanding of change management goes a long way too.

What advice would you give to a current student who wishes to pursue your career?

growing field, largely SaSS companies (software as a service) employ customer success manager is to ensure that customers are happy on an ongoing basis and getting value out of their product so they continue to buy those services. If you like talking to people, working with systems, and are proactive at finding solutions to problems, then it’s a really interesting career. Find a company whose product you can really get behind and take it from there.

What are your plans for the future?

I’m quite happy where I am the moment, I’ve just got a new puppy, my kids are well on their way through secondary school, and I will be comfortable for doing this for quite a few years until I decide to find a different company to be passionate about.


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