Posted on 25.5.2020

Saj Abbas: At UpCloud, I feel like running my own business

UpCloud customer success manager Saj Abbas

Saj joined UpCloud three years ago as one of the first employees in our London office. He started as a technical support engineer but quickly moved to the sales department. He takes advantage of the support experience every day in his current position as a customer success manager.

Did you have any sales experience before joining UpCloud?

I previously worked as a technical support engineer, but I worked very closely with the sales department. I enjoyed that kind of environment, and it really rubbed off on me.

When I started at UpCloud, we did not have an office in London yet. It was very bare-bones. After a few months in support, I sported the opportunity of moving to the sales team. To my surprise, this was welcomed, and I began to share my experiences in how things worked in my previous role and how it could work at UpCloud. 

How do you compare working in customer support to working in sales?

My boss, our sales director, once said that sales is support on steroids. I totally agree. The methodology depends a lot on what you’re selling, but at UpCloud, sales and support are cut from the same cloth. The only difference is that you engage in providing value by understanding the customer’s requirements from more of a business perspective. But with UpCloud, this remains very focused on the technical side of things. The primary objective is making sure the customer is advised correctly, and that is 85-90% support; whatever the subject matter. 

What are the qualities of a great customer success manager?

Most of all, customer success manager needs to be helpful and friendly. The “customer success” term, for me, means how am I going to help the customer become and remain successful? I try to put myself in their shoes and ask myself: If I was approaching UpCloud, what would my company look for? What might my questions be?

How do you keep a personal approach to each customer when you take care of so many? 

It’s not easy. You need to remind yourself that you’re speaking to a person and not an email or a random chat-bot. There’s a person on the other side so treat them as you would face-face. Use a bit of personality; that goes a long way!

I try to make sure that they see me as someone who is friendly and someone that they can trust. Staying on top of the latest tech news helps. Of course, we have strategies and procedures, and these work great from a “numbers” perspective. But understanding the customer from other than a numbers perspective is equally as important. An analogy might be something like adding colour to a black and white picture. 

How will you achieve that?

Many of my initial responses to the customer are very much based on the way that they approach me. Some people want to hear a story and want to get involved in a business journey. Others just want direct answers, with minimal interaction. I make sure that the customer receives the right type of response, not only answering their question but also asking the right questions. It’s incredible how quickly one can build a business once they trust the people they are working with.  

 What do you enjoy about working at UpCloud?

I’ve always been interested in business, and since I was a wee lad, I always wanted to run my own. Working at UpCloud, at least for me, is like running my own business. Flying out from London to Finland from time to time and having the Finnish team flying to London, allowed me to stretch my entrepreneur. It’s the best feeling in the world. Super satisfying!

Wouldn’t you get this opportunity in another company?

Many companies don’t want their employees turning into entrepreneurs. They want their employees to follow a particular path with a defined objective. UpCloud hasn’t been like that, at all. It’s very diverse in terms of tasks and goals, very diverse in terms of what UpCloud would like of me and how we’re gonna do it. For some people, that is extremely difficult. But for me, it’s like a constant challenge. 

If you would be able to try a different position for a day, which one would you choose?  

Maybe the Product team, because I come from the tech background. I started in tech when I was around 19, but I was building websites since I was 12 years old. Even before that, when I was seven or eight, I was already hacking away various commands in MS-DOS terminal screens.

Answering the question, to me, a computer is a dumb terminal until you tell it to do something. Something that the human is not good at or human is going to take a lot of time in processing. So I’d like to take that concept and bring it into my imaginary part of the brain and visualise and try to sell that concept through that kind of algorithm; is it a good idea? Yes, next and so on.

I’d use that side of myself to, for example, see what the latest feature requests are, put myself in the customer’s shoes and visualise how it would look from UpCloud’s perspective. I would probably ask something like “okay, what would it take to get A, B, C? How does it look from the customer’s view, does it make sense for UpCloud?”

How do you blow off steam after work?

I like cars. I have a few, one that I like to build myself and I am actually in the middle of getting my race licence. The roads around the southern coast of the UK are amazing, but I need to do more driving trips aboard. I also like to cook. I don’t know if I’m a good cook, but I try.

Do you see anything unique about UpCloud’s company culture?

I’ve worked mostly for companies in the UK and America, and now I work for a Finnish company, it’s completely different. The most unique thing about UpCloud is transparency. There are no secrets. That alone is quite rare.

Another interesting thing is that although UpCloud is a Finnish company, with mostly native Finnish speakers, everyone speaks perfect English. But with a Finnish logic to everything… It’s like listening to a Finnish thought process. Sometimes I think to myself, “ah well, I’ve never thought of it that way!” The communication, freedom to bring ideas to the table, work etiquette and transparency at UpCloud are world-class. 

It’s not your typical, “clock-in and clock-out” kinda environment. And, that might not be for everyone. But, if you have ideas and you want the chance to showcase what you’re capable of than UpCloud is the place to make that happen. 

Would you like to work with Saj? Check our open positions.

Barbora Mervaala

Social Media and Content Specialist at UpCloud. Passionate about writing stories about inspiring people and companies.

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