She has been at Salesforce for more than four years, and for the past three months has been living and working in Sydney. Michaela spoke to us about her degree, her international career and her day-to-day work.
Why did you choose to study at IMC University of Applied Sciences Krems?
Michaela Grill: Mainly because of the university’s international outlook, strong practical focus and its excellent reputation. Back then, there were only a handful of universities in Austria where you could take a degree taught entirely in English. The chance to learn at least two more languages during the programme also grabbed my attention. Another reason was the internship abroad and the option of spending a semester at one of IMC Krems’ foreign partner universities. Then there was the fact that many lecturers come straight from the business sector and can give you lots of practical examples that show you what’s really important in professional life.
What topic did you choose to focus on during your degree?
I studied on the Export-oriented Management bachelor programme and my theses looked at CSR in Mexico’s tequila industry as well as the geopolitical effects of climate change in the Arctic. Now I’m still feeling the benefit of my research and all the hard work I put in. And I can use my experience and know-how in this field with my current employer Salesforce, for example as part of my work in the management of our sustainability team, which we call the Employee Resource Group.
Are there any highlights or experiences from your time at university that have stuck in your mind?
Lots of them. I’m still friends with many of my fellow students from back then. We had too many wonderful experiences to count, and they forged us together during our time studying in the Wachau. My semester abroad in Mexico and my internship in Charleston in the US were unforgettable, and they had such an amazing impact on me.
What did you see as a real bonus during your degree programme and how did it help you when you started your career?
Apart from the international outlook and strong practical focus, I found the lectures by the various ambassadors very interesting, mainly because you don’t get the chance to listen to talks like that every day. Another bonus was the wide range of contacts to the business world, which I made during the many excursions we went on. And some of the many case studies we worked on in small groups during our courses really stuck in my mind, and later on I was able to apply the things I learned from them in other contexts.
Do you keep in touch with your former university, fellow students and lecturers?
I’m still in close contact with many of my wonderful fellow students, and I meet some of them from time to time when I’m travelling and we happen to be in the same city. I think the IMC Alumni Network with all its chapters around the world is really great, and I go to the meetings in whichever city I’m living in. That has enabled me to make lots of nice friends. I get in touch with lecturers now and then. In any event, it’s been great to be able to maintain all of these different links to IMC Krems since I graduated.
How did your career progress after you graduated?
First, I had a really busy gap year after finishing my bachelor, travelling through the Andes for two months and also volunteering. After that I spent six months in South East Asia. I did a traineeship at the Chamber of Commerce’s foreign trade office in Taipei and another one at the Austrian embassy in Kuala Lumpur. Then I was in Vienna for six months, getting to know our capital city a bit better and in that time I also did an internship focused on CSR with an NGO. Next, I decided to do a master degree in England, and I studied international relations at the University of Bath. I spent lots of time abroad, including field research in Brazil, before moving to London to take up my first permanent, full-time job. I worked for a start-up where I was responsible for sales and marketing, events and customer service. I moved to Dublin in 2015 to start working for Salesforce, one of the world’s most innovative companies. Since then, I’ve been working with cloud technology, software as a service or SaaS, and the internet of things, and seeing how much I learn every day gives me a real buzz. I’d held a number of different posts with the company before I was transferred to Sydney a few months ago.
What exactly does your current position involve?
I’m a consultant – my job title is Customer Success Manager – and I work with regular customers in the cloud computing business to make sure they’re using our products properly and making full use of the functionality, and help them maximise their return on investment. I focus on topics like change management, governance and process structures. I give presentations on these topics in the course of roadshows, and I advise prospective customers at events. I also organise regular workshops and other small-scale events so I can compare notes with clients. Besides working with customers as well as my colleagues and internal project teams, I really like the opportunities I have at the company to get involved in things outside my day-to-day work, like the management of our sustainability team.