Microsoft technology partner, Altron Karabina, has named James Hickman as its new Chief Customer Officer. He replaces Dave Ives who has transitioned into a Digital Advisory Executive position.
Hickman joins Altron Karabina from SAQlik, where he was the MD and focused on strengthening client and partner relationships through actionable insights using data analytics. Prior to that, he spent 13 years at Microsoft in various roles ranging from corporate account manager through to leading the coastal, manufacturing and telecommunications customer teams.
“My passion for creating an amazing customer experience started when I worked as a waiter after leaving school,” said Hickman.
“One of my regulars was so impressed, I was offered an interview at a computer business, setting in motion the events that have led me to this point. And with the nature of customer experience evolving faster than ever, I could not be happier with what I am doing now.”
Grant van der Wal, Managing Director of Altron Karabina added: “We are excited to have James on board as an integral part of our leadership team.
“At Altron Karabina, we have always been passionate about customers and about Microsoft. James brings these two focus areas together in an effortless way.
“He is well known in the industry for being a strong collaborator and team player and we know that these attributes will take our business and our customers’ businesses to new heights.”
Hickman says that in a traditional business he would be considered a sales manager but Altron Karabina adds a layer of complexity that extends this focus area considerably.
“I feel a deep responsibility to help ensure the success of the business,” he said.
“Ultimately, if I fail at my job, I impact everybody’s lives and that is something I take personally. While many view sales as a high-risk environment, I believe that if you do it right and use the data at your disposal, you remove that uncertainty and create longevity which does not come just by focusing on the numbers.”
For Hickman, the customer is the critical part of this value chain.
“I believe a company should understand its customers by coming to grips with how best to partner with them,” he said.
“This will see the relationship extend multiple years and enable the parties to enjoy the good times together and more easily survive the challenging ones.”
This revolves around having a responsibility to orchestrate internal change on behalf of the customer to deliver value in the way they see it.
“We must deliver innovation that matters to our customers,” said Hickman.
“By putting them first in everything we do, we will bring the sales needed to drive growth. And in the Fourth Industrial Revolution environment we are starting to experience, Altron Karabina is stitching together Microsoft solutions that not only aligns with the Seattle-based company’s strategy but also delivers capabilities for our customers to enable them to embrace the digital business environment.”
Beyond the customer, Hickman is also passionate about developing people.
“There are few things more rewarding than when you see someone you have been growing with become successful at what they do. I love working with people,” he said.
“For me, a leader’s role is all about creating energy. If a person is not seen as someone who believes in what they do or are apathetic, then nobody will be keen to follow them.
“This couldn’t be more important than in the role of Chief Customer Officer as my people are the main interface to our customers. They are at the centre of the feedback loop. Without this feedback we cannot truly understand if we are meeting our customers’ expectations and ultimately delivering the value we aim to. At Altron Karabina we are putting the customer at the centre of everything we do and all the decisions we make, and I am immensely proud to be part of this journey.”