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Peishan Tan from Mixpanel on 'The Art (and Science) of Listening'

April 1, 2022

Peishan Tan, learner at NewCampus shares her story, from the trading desk to leading customer insights teams

At NewCampus, we love telling stories of personal transformation from our learners. We spoke to Peishan Tan,  Manager of Customer Success and Professional Services at Mixpanel about her learning experience with NewCampus and reflections on leading CX in the data space.

Trading in Investment Strategies for Customer Insights

Question: Tell us about your story. What were some of the pivotal moments in your career, from your days in finance & analytics to your current work in CX?

I set off in equity research and what I enjoyed about it was working with data - just building projections on what customers or companies were doing. I also liked talking to customers, institutional investors, about what the investment thesis was. Those were the two aspects that threaded through the other job opportunities that I had. 

Moving on to DRW, which is a prop trading firm, I joined as a financial analyst within an optimization team. I realized then that it was very internal focused, internal business analysis. What I wanted was to work with external parties - to be part of the revenue centre, not so much the cost centre. So when the opportunity for Mixpanel came, I was like "Wow, this is perfect". I get to work on a data analytics platform, and that's where my interests lie. I’m helping customers solve questions through the insights that we gain from data.

Leadership Power Tools: Listening and Coaching

Question: What was the transition from technical expert to CX leader like? What are some of the underrated skills or qualities early CX leaders might not realise they need? 

Listening. I think that's the main transferable skill that you bring across. From listening to customers and understanding what their issues are, to turning it around, listening to the team. Figuring out what their challenges are and helping solve them. 

I think that I'm still learning how to listen better. It’s a muscle that we continue to build up. 

What is that one key nugget that I want to take away? It's how powerful good coaching is. Being able to understand that it’s not about providing solutions. You don't even need to know what the issue or the technicalities are. It's all about providing that space and support for the person to come to their own ‘aha’ moment.

Navigating Complex Global Business Structures 

Question: What are some unique challenges and joys of leading customer success at a large company like Mixpanel? How are the relationships more complex?

When I was working in Chicago, especially at the prop trading firm, it was internal. So all the people that you talk to, all the cross-functions that you talk to, it's very regional. It's all Chicago-based. 

I wanted the opportunity to work globally, and definitely got that in spades with Mixpanel, even more than I anticipated. First of all, we work in CX, and we cover APAC. Our customers are anywhere from New Zealand, Australia, all the way from India. I would hop on a call in the morning with a customer in New Zealand, and then move to Australia, and talk to customers in Taiwan, Thailand, and then end up in India at the end of the day. 

It's so awesome because everyone is using the same analytics platform, but because they come from different industries, have different levels of analytics maturity. They have so many different kinds of questions and  many different kinds of cultural nuances, too. Working with people across these different geographies, learning how to listen properly and adapt the way you connect with these people is interesting. 

Even within the organization, having to work across different time zones to interface with the teams is one challenge that I didn't really anticipate. Not only do I have to work across different time zones in APAC, but I also have to work across different time zones With our internal teams. The manager role is less about working with the customers now, but working cross-functionally with different departments. Within our cross functional departments in APAC and globally. You’re working with marketing, partnerships, sales, and then over on the global side, the product team, engineering team, and also the other CX leaders. 

Preparing for Tough Situations in a Safe Environment

Question: What sort of leadership or management training have you explored? How different is it from your experience with NewCampus?

Mixpanel is pretty awesome. They've been investing in a lot of management training courses, and so I've talked to like a total of four coaches now, including NewCampus. 

NewCampus was very organised, with four main areas of focus. You have the opportunity to meet with people of different industries, and across different levels of management experience. You're all in the same room, you get to share what you're doing. 

It was so useful to be put into the hot seat to role play different scenarios. It's one thing to listen to best practices and it's another to actually go through the motions with a professional coach guiding you and showing you the specific areas of improvement. I also really liked the 1-on-1 coaching after the class. I had some specific examples that I wanted to talk through, and get feedback on. That was wow - so good. 

Valuing Personal Development 

Question: What would you say to other employers in the data industry who are looking to invest time and resources in L&D?

I say they do it. Professional coaching is so valuable.

I would say that what we have been doing right in Mixpanel is ensuring that we have these weekly 1-on-1s. That's really good that we have them. I have friends working in different industries where they rarely have 1-on-1s with their boss, or their bosses always just cancel their one-on-ones so there's no room for professional growth or development.

Setting Out on New Adventures

Question: Are there any ideas you’d like to work on or habits you’d like to cultivate for 2022?

Now that travel is opening up, I am revenge travelling. I just came back from the Maldives and have trips to Sydney and the US upcoming, and more trips to plan out for the rest of the year.

Speaking of Numbers...

Fun Fact: After a bit of banter later on, we discovered that Peishan is a super-human kayaker!

Last year, she and a group of friends circumnavigated Singapore and 28 of its islands in a 151km Round Singapore Paddle from 27-30 August and helped raise $38,000 for the Singapore Children's Cancer Foundation.

We're so proud and honoured to have high-achieving, resilient Asian leaders in our midst 💪

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