Liquid Web’s Customer Experience Manager on her start in tech, her biggest challenge, and the value of offering a different point of view.
Alexandra Carl grew up sitting at the kitchen table beside her mother, a small business owner. While Alexandra did her homework, her mother did payroll. “Growing up and seeing all of the negotiations and work that it takes to build and run a business is still very impactful.” She spent her youth watching her mother keep an eye on the big picture, while also being sure to spot and fill any gaps. This model of leadership has had a profound effect on Carl’s career. “My mother isn’t ‘too good’ for any role in her company. I try to model that as well.”
Carl has been lending this sensibility to her work at Liquid Web, her first technology job, for the past six years. She admits that she didn’t begin a career in technology because of any specific goals or plans. “I faced a choice to continue on my current path, which meant working three minimum wage jobs, or risking what I had to build a new career. I found opportunities in technology and, with the help of some very good friends, learned what I needed to learn to get my foot in the door,” she says. “It was hard at first to learn everything that I needed to know technically without having much of a background, but some base aptitude showed up after a few months and I learned quickly.”
That leap six years ago has led to Alexandra Carl’s current role as the Customer Experience Manager at Liquid Web, where she analyzes each encounter crafted for Liquid Web clients. From customer surveys to feedback within the portal and communication in tickets or chats, she is always on the lookout for what can be improved, where she and her team can be better, and how the customer service experience can be enhanced. “I joke that my job is to roam around looking for problems so that I can fix them,” she says. “When you see something broken, congratulations! It is now yours to fix or to shine a light on.”
She is inspired by the knowledge that Liquid Web’s customers are business owners, community organizers, and people with big ideas. “Crafting an excellent customer experience is about listening, being willing to take a real look at the choices being made, and smoothing out rough areas internally so that all that customers need to do is worry about their business. I like that, in a small way, I am helping a lot of people do their work better.”
Her biggest challenge and proudest accomplishment came a few years ago when she was a last-minute selection as the project coordinator for a large acquisition, suddenly running her first team on a tight budget with a nearly impossible timeline. “It was amazing the way the whole company banded together to end with a successful project. I love the camaraderie that I find in tech teams, and being surrounded by tremendously smart people.”
In addition to her role as Customer Experience Manager, she is also the Department Head of Service Delivery, a team that assembles and deploys all of the physical hardware needed by Liquid Web customers and by the company internally. “I love the balance of running a production team as well as an idea team,” she says.
Alongside learning from her mother’s focus and diligence, Carl credits mentors at Liquid Web for guiding her through career challenges. “Ani King, Crystal and Sebastian Green-Husted, Benny Vasquez, Terry Trout, Nicky Bulmer, and Jack Hayhurst. They have been with me from learning the basics to facing big decisions.”
She encourages other women who are interested in joining the ranks of women in technology to embrace that which makes them unique. “Your biggest strength in this industry is in being a little different, in looking at things in a new light and bringing those ideas into the group. The industry is well established, but established by people who largely think in the same way. New ideas from people that are not traditionally on these teams and in these roles are where the growth and improvement will come from. Make some noise and push your point of view. We will all be better for it.”
From her mother’s kitchen table to her current role at Liquid Web, Alexandra Carl’s career has been shaped by a belief in constant improvement, both big and small. “At each step, I do everything I can and then take the next step in the direction that makes the most sense. I don’t know what the top of the mountain looks like, but I know which direction I should be marching in to get there.”