For this episode of Stellar Women, we mixed things up. I was joined by Relativity superstars from across the globe. Guest co-host JC Steinbrunner and I had the pleasure of chatting with Karimah Campbell, Relativity’s manager of customer success in EMEA.
Karimah chats with our customers daily, so she was able to share her insight into the types of conversations and adaptations being made in the international e-discovery space in response to the current COVID-19 crisis. She also gave us a sneak peek into her Relativity Fest London session, “Navigating Through Uncertain Times in e-Discovery.”
Manager, EMEA Customer Success
Mila Taylor: Hi Stellar Women fans. I'm your host Mila Taylor.
JC Steinbrunner: I’m your guest co-host JC Steinbrunner. We're mixing things up. Mary was chilling. It's a Friday, so we don't expect her to do too much work on the weekend. I tend to keep creeping into these things, but it's a real pleasure. I'm glad to be to be a part of it!
MT: JC, we're very happy to have you today! Stellar Women shines a light on female leaders making their mark in legal tech. Today we are chatting with one of our very own stellar women at Relativity: Karimah Campbell.
JS: Hey Karimah!
Karimah Campbell: Hi, everyone.
MT: Thank you so much for joining us. How are you doing today?
KC: I'm good, thank you. It's Friday. I'm happy.
MT: Yes. Finally! I can't tell if these weeks feel super long or super short. They're all blending together anyway.
JS: Yeah, what is the week anymore?
MT: How are things going for you as well, in the UK? I know things in the States are pretty crazy. Can you please give us some background on that?
KC: Yeah, I think it’s the same for everyone right now. Every day there is a change, related to the pandemic. What I do really like is that, every Thursday evening at 8:00 p.m., we're doing a clap for the NHS—the National Health Service. It’s just a nice chance to not only show appreciation, but I've actually met some of my neighbors. There's a really nice couple across the road and they wave. I wave. After all this, I think I'm going to go and introduce myself.
MT: I love it. There are little silver linings all around.
JS: It's funny, you know, I feel the same thing over here in Chicago. I feel like I have gotten closer to my neighbors, more so than I ever have—everyone now waves to each other. It’s a great thing. A silver lining, I suppose.
MT: Yeah, I live in a high-rise building and the elevators are normally filled with people who don't talk to each other. But now, as we're waiting, everyone says hello.
KC: They've actually turned off the elevators in my building to encourage social distancing.
MT: For us they have made a rule that it's one person per elevator. So, we are all congregating, six feet apart in the lobby, watching one person at a time.
JS: What you need is a larger elevator! Hopefully that’s an innovation that will come out of this.
MT: Maybe! Karimah, it's been an interesting year for everybody, but especially for you. Relativity recognized you at our annual kickoff conference. Then you know, a pandemic drove us all indoors and you were also promoted to the manager of EMEA, customer success management. Can you tell us how that's been, and what's exciting about your new role?
KC: Oh, it's been a whirlwind. It's actually only been nine months in which all of that happened. The new role I'm absolutely loving. I think it's because we've never actually had an EMEA manager for the customer success team. It is giving us an opportunity to tailor it a lot more and focus on the region.
JC: For folks who aren't at Relativity, can you tell us a little bit about our customer success management team? What do you do?
KC: Essentially, we help our customers get the most out of their relationship with Relativity. Anything operationally, we are the people to come to—we can help connect the dots, connect you with people internally who will help you if you want to build a new tool, or anything like that. We can also help you adopt new features. If you want to start using Relativity Processing or Analytics, we can help you with that onboarding process.
JS: In your role, you work closely with customers. In this crazy time that we're in, what types of conversations are you having with customers and how is the e-discovery community banding together?
KC: That's a really good question. The conversations that I'm having with my customers have mainly been focused on alternate use cases for Relativity, looking at how they can connect with a wider business and other ways that they can go to market. A big conversation we've been having has actually been around contract analytics. The e-discovery community as a whole—I just love the way that we are banding together. I don't know if you've seen, but the recent announcement about Consilio and KLDiscovery providing collection, I think that's really a good representation of a tight knit community.
MT: It’s nice to see all the little pockets coming together in cool, innovative, and fun ways. There is a lot of opportunity for that kind of stuff. As you know, the e-discovery community is quite small. I am interested in what you did before joining Relativity, because I know you've been in the industry for several years.
KC: My recent role before joining relativity was at EY and I was there for seven years. Feels like a lifetime! It was great. I started there quite new to the industry. I had a couple of years of experience before joining EY. I must say, I left being a very seasoned e-discovery professional.
JS: What made you jump over to the vendor side?
KC: I thought it was time for a change, but I didn't want to leave the industry. I thought, what can I do that would be totally different, but still allow me to keep the connections I've got, and still do the kind of work that I enjoy? I thought, okay, who can I call on? I've been using Relativity for so many years now and the community is there, regardless of if you're in the company or not. So, it was a nice, easy transition.
JS: Speaking of community and collaboration, in these strange times, we've relied a lot on Zoom and a lot of people have been getting used to working at home and doing everything online. However, being in our London office, you probably do that a lot with your colleagues over here in Chicago. What have you found successful in terms of collaborating over those distances or even now, from your home?
KC: I think I'm pretty smug because I feel like a Zoom expert and that has absolutely helped when I'm collaborating even before this pandemic. I really like the fact that we really started investing in our video conferencing tools. Having big screens in our meeting rooms where you could see the individuals makes you feel more in the room and able to have a voice. I think that's changed the way that we communicate with our teams in Poland and America.
MT: I'm going to switch gears a little bit because you are a rock star. I want to absorb as much advice and information from you as I can. So, what advice would you give to emerging women looking to advance their careers in tech?
KC: First of all, I am so going to put that as my LinkedIn tagline: rock star. In terms of advice, I would say that opportunities are there to be taken. It's really easy to feel like you're not the right person for an opportunity, or you might not have the confidence. But, if there's something you want to do, just do it. If you don't have the access to be able to do it, or don't know how to get into it, talk to someone. You’d really be surprised at how many people are willing to help you.
MT: I love that. Speaking of talking about people, I have found that Relativity’s Women of the Workplace group (RelWoW) has been a great resource for me personally. Do you have any other groups that you've joined in the field that you'd recommend to others?
KC: Yes definitely! I've got a long list. I won't go through them all because I think this would have to be a series itself.
MT: Share the highlight reel.
KC: Definitely number one is Women in e-Discovery. I was on the inaugural board of directors for Women in -Discovery in London, and just seeing how quickly that community grew, it was so amazing. I think we've got 170 people in less than six months. That was just amazing. It's a really nice way to just connect with people, share stories, and things like that. That's one of my top recommendations. Another one that's quite close to my heart is the Black Young Professionals Network. It's not industry-focused, but it allows you to connect with professionals from all industries, and you’d actually be surprised at how many similarities there are across different industries and how much you can learn from people. I am going to throw a curveball. My last one is called Witty. It’s not necessarily a group aimed at us already in the industry, but it's focused on women from non-technical backgrounds who want to get into technology. If we already have an established career in technology, I think it's important for us to share our stories and get more people in.
MT: Love that!
JS: That’s a really nice way to give back. I love that.
MT: Is that Witty—W.I.T.T.Y?
KC: Yeah, that's right!
JS: Now we have our own conference coming up—Relativity Fest London or maybe just Relativity Fest London-time, since it's going to be virtual May 12-14. Karimah, you are leading a session on the first day of that. Can you talk to us a little bit about what you're going be talking about?
KC: Yeah, that's going to be exciting. My session is the first live session of the whole conference. I'll be on a panel with some members of our strategy team and few of our customers. We'll be talking about the challenges and opportunities in our industry during these uncertain times.
JS: We touched on this briefly, no spoilers though, because we want people to come to the to the session. What have you been hearing from different segments of the industry in terms of the challenges and the opportunities?
KC: I’m not going to give that much away, JC! We're just really looking at how they can adapt to this new normal, and how they can build their pipeline, because I think that's a big challenge for everybody. Right now, it's still kind of business as usual, because you've got the existing work. In six months from now, for example, how are things going to change? Are you going to have work to be working on? Is everything going to be different? What kind of projects are we going to be seeing? So that should be quite a good conversation.
MT: I'm excited for it.
JS: Me too.
KC: Me three.
JS: Well, Relativity Fest London is approaching! What does your day-to-day look like now at work and getting ready for that session?
KC: A lot of Zoom meetings! I think I have a couple of hours a day where I'm not in a Zoom meeting. My day-to-day has changed quite a bit because I'm used to actually seeing my customers in person, and just spending more time with them physically. Adapting to being on phone calls and on Zoom has been interesting. Even preparing for this panel over Zoom has been very interested in trying to work out how we're going to flow it. We've been working things out like, do we need to dress the same? Is someone going to turn up in a onesie? We need to make sure there's some kind of consistency there.
MT: I think a preparing for an event is exciting and nerve-racking at the best of times. When it's kind of thrown on its side, it’s still exciting in a different way. It definitely adds some more elements to think about. Either way, I'm excited and I know it's going to be great.
KC: I’ll bring my A game.
MT: I have a totally separate kind of question. What's something that many people don't know about you?
KC: I used to be a DJ on a pirate radio station.
KC: Don't tell anyone.
JS: I feel like that's like a quintessential mid-90s movie. Going off Mila’s question, now that your work and your life are kind of smushed together as all of ours are, what's one thing you've learned about yourself?
KC: I've always been quite a determined person. I've really noticed that when I'm in my zone, it's really hard for me to snap out of it. In the office, it's really easy because you physically have to leave the office, so that's your switch-off point. Being at home, it's been really interesting. I'm trying to be strict on myself and just making sure that I'm actually removing myself and that I'm giving myself time for me. I've got a routine that I've started doing when it comes to the end of the working day: I take off my jeans and put on yoga pants, and I take off my bra and relax. Those are my two things to say, “Okay, Karimah, well done.”
MT: I'm honestly so impressed that you're putting on jeans.
JS: You might be a couple steps ahead of us.
MT: I put on jeans just to feel like a normal person again. And I was like, “Wow, this is different.”
JS: Yeah, I've had to make an effort to dress up for this Zoom meeting because I’ve got to feel it. You know, I’ve got to feel like I'm in that zone.
MT: Yeah, it honestly makes a difference. Karimah, thank you so much. This has been wonderful. I'm very excited for the Relativity Fest session. I'm also just very excited to see what you do, because judging off the last nine months, I know it's going to be great things.
KC: Thank you.
MT: With that—for Stellar Women, I'm Mila Taylor.
JS: I'm JC Steinbrenner.
Both: Signing off.
JS: Oh no, I blew it!
MT: No, that was better. We were in sync for me.
JS: Oh, it wasn't in sync for me.
KC: It was for me.
MT: There we go!