Jennifer Young, an account project manager for our digital practice, recently became a certified strategic account manager. We asked for her feedback on what this accomplishment means for her, and for clients of Fusion Alliance.
Jennifer: I’ve enjoyed working with clients since I started my very first project engagement. When we were finished, my client, grateful and teary-eyed, hugged our team members. For this particular project, our team spent hours interviewing everyone from the CMO to call center leads to IT team members and stakeholder groups. We then analyzed data from apps, websites, and research. The end result was a digital roadmap, featuring 40 pages of hard truths, facts, figures, and recommendations; and it had become THEIRS. I had just witnessed the beginning of co-creation. We were wrapping up a four-month project to deliver a digital roadmap, and I knew I learned something special about the relationships that I was building. And I wanted to do more.
Some of my earlier roles in consulting were as a digital and content strategist, and I found myself loving the account management side, especially when I started working with clients in the pharma marketing space. In the past six years at Fusion Alliance, I have done my best to still “be” a digital marketer and strategist while moving into project management, which has now led to account management.
Just recently, I was certified as a strategic account manager, also known as a CSAM by the Strategic Account Management Association. Their mission — Become Essential to Your Customer — is something I can completely understand. The certification is a 12-18 month process, comprised of attending courses on how to think like a CEO, shepherd cross-functional teams, learn how to uncover client value drivers, cocreate with a customer, and the pinnacle — develop a SAMA approved account plan.
In my final presentation to SAMA, the reviewer shared with me that my account plan had demonstrated that I knew how to look at an entire organization and think like a CEO. In that moment, I thought that perhaps being a CEO was next on my career progression. That lasted for about 45 minutes!
All kidding aside, the CSAM certification process really stressed the importance of a co-creative relationship, working with executive stakeholders and shepherding the project engagements together. I didn’t realize how much executives of all industries and company sizes really desire for consultants to provide an avenue of a cocreation relationship, until the learnings of SAMA. But it makes sense.
Thinking ahead, I hope to be labeled as the executive’s friend that uncovers their greatest value drivers. One of my SAMA instructors said it well, “We must be the ones that provide direction through chaos; and bring simplicity to complexity.”
Please join us in congratulating Jennifer on this wonderful achievement!