Iulia Balan, our Customer Support Team Leader

25 Jun 2020 5 min read

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm almost 37 years old, married, and the happy mother of a wonderful boy. Teodor-Stefan is the joy of our lives, he’s 7 years old and just finished his first year of school (preparatory class). I enjoy nature walks, travels, exploring new places, good times with family, friends, and learning new things.
My studies were focused on Computer Science. The profile of my high-school class was Computer Science, then I continued at the Faculty of Computer Science in Iasi, together with half of my classmates emoticon_smile

It's worth mentioning that I'm talking about the times when floppy disks were the norm, and the coolest things were Windows ‘95, ‘98, Internet cafes and Netscape emoticon_smile Those were fun times and it really is amazing to see, over the years, such a great and fast evolution of  what IT  means.

I got my Bachelor’s degree in 2006 when the market was offering either programming jobs or teaching. As I didn’t find a strong passion for writing code I didn’t pursue a career in becoming a full-time programmer. Initially, I was considering teaching, because I had experienced tutoring friends, family members (cousins, nephews), and also I undertook formal pedagogy courses. Looking back, I believe that those experiences made me appreciate the satisfaction of having taught/explained something, or helped someone and getting to see them put the knowledge in action. While I was evaluating the options, I got an opportunity to work in the banking field, directly with clients, and I took it.

Having an IT background always helped me as I managed to adapt and explore easily the new software and IT operations at the bank.

Iulia
in 5 things
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  • Favorite artist: Robin Williams
  • Best book ever read: “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Brontë
  • Dream destination: Wherever I can enjoy the sea
  • Quote you live by: I don’t personally have one
  • At the office or remote? At the office

The journey to XWiki

Did you change careers when joining our team?

Before XWiki, I was an Operations Officer at a bank. I have eight years of banking experience (spent in two big corporations) which allowed me to grow significantly as a person and as a professional. I like working with clients, meeting new people, and the feeling of fulfillment when managing new responsibilities. While I was on my maternity leave I started wondering (more and more often) how it would have been if I would have continued working in the IT field. Over the last 10 years, the IT field in Iasi has greatly evolved and increased the potential of the IT market.  Also thinking that I don’t want to have later regrets at some point, I did more research and applied for a position at XWiki. I was still on maternity leave and the position was already taken. One year later, I noticed there was an open position in the Support & QA team, I got back in contact with Silvia who recommended me and I entered the recruitment process. This is how I started my journey in IT and at XWiki.

I joined XWiki in July 2015 as the “Customer Service Specialist” in the Support and QA team, by handling a mix of Support and Sales Administration tasks. I adapted easily as it continued to involve working and communicating with clients. In May 2017 I officially took the lead of our Customer Support team which allowed me to learn (still am) so many new things. I became more technical, I improved my soft skills, got involved in hiring and training new colleagues. I’m grateful to be part of the “XWiki dream team” and that I’m surrounded by great people and professionals. So yes, for me joining XWiki was a turning point in my career.
 

What is it like to be working in the Customer Support team at XWiki?

Working in the Customer Support team at XWiki gave me the opportunity to interact more with clients from all over the world. As Lead of our Support team, I’m in charge of Customer Satisfaction and the daily management of Support operations. The communication with our Support clients is done mostly remotely (which can be challenging) through our ticketing tool or by email, and sometimes we have online meetings with clients for interventions, status updates or to gather specific feedback. We encounter different use cases reported by customers using XWiki in their daily activities, on production servers (could be bugs, improvements, ideas of new features).
Each customer experience and each feedback counts as it helps us improve our services and products.
I’m usually a morning person and I start my working day by verifying the last Support updates and prioritizing the last requests. However, over the day more urgent or critical issues may be reported and, in our team, we need to be agile, to be able to adjust and intervene fast. I like the adrenaline rush of a busy day, the diversity of tasks, and the fact that we get to interact with all teams inside XWiki.

I love what I do because I get to use my previous experience of working with clients, but in the field that I studied, I got involved on the management side and I still encounter challenges that help me continue my growth (both on the professional and personal side).

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Open Source impressions

Was Open Source something you had an interest in prior to XWiki?

I have heard about Open Source before, but I wasn’t following up closely. Getting to know XWiki is how I became fond of Open Source values. 

What's the Open Source value you identify with most?

I appreciate a lot the collaboration and transparency values. I admire the way people work together towards the goal of helping and bringing their contribution to the community.

It takes a lot of energy and self-control to deal with an unhappy customer. I really admire Iulia's ability to stay calm and positive in difficult situations. Also, her ability to understand our customers' problems and quickly develop suitable solutions is a real next-level problem-solving skill. 
- Alina Luchian, Communications and Marketing Manager

Being an XWikier

What has kept you at XWiki so far?

I would say a mix of factors: the XWiki culture and values, the trust, the team, and the management.

If you ever wished for a job change, what made you decide to stay?

I didn't. I had many challenges and the opportunity to grow at XWiki, so I didn’t have time to get bored emoticon_smile

What were the most drastic ways in which XWiki changed during the years you've been around?

I believe that all changes were part of XWiki's evolution and the path to becoming better as a product, company, community, and also as a team. 

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Lessons learned

What would you say is the most valuable lesson you learned during your time at XWiki?

I have learned about the importance of Open Source values and contributions.

Do you know those cartoons where there is a little angel on one shoulder arguing with the little devil on the other? Working with Iulia is like giving some extra backup to the little angel, resulting in extra motivation to do the job right. 
- Paul Pantiru, Software Engineer

The XWiki experience

If you could describe XWiki in one word, what would it be?

Trust.

Favorite memory of the years at XWiki?

I would choose my first seminar as I remember the excitement of a new and different experience, I met the whole team and I got surprised with a birthday cake emoticon_smile

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