Today we’d like to introduce you to Rachel Vukusic, Sales Specialist at zetcom. Rachel is originally from the US, but now lives and works in Switzerland. We chat about what she does at zetcom, how she got here, and what her favorite museum is
Christina Hunt: Rachel, the first thing I’d love to know, what is your title? And what do you do for zetcom?
Rachel Vukusic: My title is a Sales Specialist and I focus on the sales journey with our new customers, as well as support existing customers with their services.
CH: How long have you been doing this at zetcom?
Rachel: I’ve been here just over two years.
CH: Time has flown! Because where are you from? Originally? Because you don’t have an accent.
Rachel: That’s correct. I’m originally from the US. I grew up in the Northeast and lived in New York for some time. Then moved over here (to Switzerland) after following my heart.
CH: Beautiful way of putting it. Have you lived in Switzerland for two years as well?
Rachel: Yes, just over two years. So, I started with zetcom more or less right after I arrived here. The stars aligned for me to find this role, because the job posting was on LinkedIn and at the time I was looking for opportunities within sales, which is my background.
I felt connected to zetcom because of the culture aspect: coming from New York City and being surrounded by culture there, as well as coming from a performance background, I felt very at home in the arts community. And so, this felt like I could marry the two worlds of Art and sales.
CH: What does a day in the life of Rachel look like?
Rachel: Usually, a six AM wake up call via alarm, but normally another type of alarm (my 1 year old daughter). I then have a little time with my baby girl in the morning before dropping her off at daycare, and then sit down and get to work – checking on my customers, where the conversations stand, seeing who I need to check in with, bouncing between meetings and proposals to work on.
I partner closely with our CCO on large Tender proposals for institutions procuring a new collections system, and this provides a unique challenge. Many of the calls for proposals often ask for similar information, but it tends to be asked for in slightly different formats. It requires a huge focus on organization and time management, plus sometimes a bit of creativity. My favorite part of the day is meeting with new customers and guiding them through their buying journey.
In the evening, I hopefully have some time to unwind with a good meal, maybe a glass of wine, and an interesting show.
CH: You also take calls with the US. You’ve been supporting the US team lately as well, right?
Rachel: That’s right, so sometimes I work a short “night shift” as well to help support the US team, but that’s been really fun for me because that’s “home”. As much as I love living in Switzerland, the US is still home at the end of the day and it’s a different way that I’m able to connect with customers there because of that.
CH: Have you experienced any cultural shocks since being in Switzerland especially from a sales perspective? Do people work differently there or is it fairly similar?
Rachel: Yes, they do work differently and I would say it’s overall the pace of everything. I think back in the US there’s often someone “pushing behind you”, or a faster speed to how work/tasks should be accomplished. Here, everything takes a bit more time to get through. In some ways, this slower pace is nice because you feel a lot less pressure on yourself. It took me a while to adjust to that, but it’s great to feel like I can actually breathe. If I don’t get a response out by four o’clock, it’s okay. Unless there is a hard deadline, which then of course the pressure is on and we stayed on track to meet them.
CH: One thing I learned from working in Europe in Germany, specifically, is that they’re much more detail oriented. And so they take time because they are so detail oriented versus I was used to working at, like you mentioned, a much faster pace but there was a higher propensity for mistakes to be made and people were more forgiving of those mistakes to let them slide. That’s just my experience.
Do you work out of the Bern office?
Rachel: Yes, I do. But I’m very lucky to be primarily in my home office which gives me a better work-life balance.The sales team is actually very much spread out globally, and also my meetings during the day with customers are often with someone in the Netherlands, the UK, Australia, and the US, so whether I’m sitting at home or at the office doesn’t have a huge impact on my work.
CH: Yeah, I totally get that virtual has changed everything and you said it helps with work-life balance as well, especially when you have a little one. You all recently celebrated the 25th anniversary or celebration of zetcom, did you get to go to that?
Rachel: Yes, I did get to go to the event and it was awesome! It was the first time that I’ve met most of my Berlin colleagues in person as well as my US colleagues in person. To be in the same room as the people that you work with and talk to everyday – it made such an impact. The event was a good balance of discussing business and the history of the business, but also what to look forward to and what’s planned for the future of zetcom. And then of course the social aspect of getting to join a creative activity, eat good food, listen to music, dance, and enjoy one another’s company.
CH: So in all of your clients, Are there any commonalities in between? So is there something that most people are focusing on right now? Maybe it’s shifting towards eMuseumPlus? A common theme? That’s kind of happening amongst clients.
Rachel: Definitely. You hit the nail on the head with eMuseumPlus. Supporting an online collection is the biggest part of the conversation nowadays, because it’s one aspect to be able to document your collection in detail, and of course, that’s the bread and butter of what we do, the collections management system. But now, it’s so important for institutions to be able to share their collections online.
We have a great product, eMuseumPlus, which supports our customers to do that, and it communicates with the back end system seamlessly. It really just brings the goals of every institution full circle: To document their collection in detail and then share that information with the world.
CH: So I have two questions left. The next question is, what has been your journey to get to zetcom? What did you study in school? Did you grow up in New York City?
Rachel: I grew up in New Jersey, but I started going into New York when I was 16 to train in a pre-professional dance program, so I would commute four times a week after school. I took my training very seriously and I’m classically trained by some incredible professionals in the dance industry, such as Leslie Browne, Ethan Brown, and Debbie Roche. I also studied in the summer with the American Ballet Theater.
Rachel: But I knew I always wanted to go to college. I thought about pursuing a dance career right after high school but I knew getting a diploma would make a big difference later in life if I wanted to explore a career in another field. After one year at a university in Pennsylvania, I transferred to Fordham University in the Bronx, and after graduating I stayed in New York.
I did decide to pursue a dance career after graduation, but growing up I always worked part-time jobs in clothing retail sales, and I continued to do so while pursuing my dance career. After a few years, I decided that I really enjoyed sales and especially connecting with customers. I was very focused on clienteling, so building client relationships and nurturing those relationships. I was working for luxury brands at that point, for companies such as Club Monaco, Tory Burch, and SuitSupply, and as I started to grow in that industry I enjoyed it. Then Covid happened.
That was the turning point for my family, and we decided to pick up and move because we lost our jobs in New York City. We said, “Now it’s the time to do it” and we made the jump. In three months, we sold most of our belongings, booked a moving company to ship our personal items and household goods overseas that wouldn’t fit in a suitcase, and had a fantastic going away party with our family and friends in the US. We arrived first in Germany, as my husband is German, and then moved over to Switzerland because of his work.
After arriving here, I was looking for a position in sales, but I wasn’t coming from an IT background. I didn’t have any knowledge of that space, and so that was quickly highlighted during my interview conversation. It was blankly stated as, “you don’t have a background in IT” and I replied, ”Yes, but I have a background in client relationships and at the end of the day, the sales journey is about that. It’s about building connections with people and helping them through the process to find exactly what they need.” And I said that I can learn about any topic, but you can’t necessarily teach personal skills.
It was a risk for both of us, zetcom and me: going into an industry I wasn’t sure I was going to love, and the company taking a risk because I was very “green” in terms of industry knowledge. But I think for both of us, it’s been a really great marriage.
CH: Yeah, I would agree. Last question is, what is your favorite museum?
Rachel: I figured something like that was going to come up, and I don’t have an answer!
CH: You can give me the top three. I had to tell Dominik that too. He was like, I can’t. It’s like picking your favorite child? And I was like, Okay, give me your top three.
Rachel: I guess The Met, but I feel as though that’s the most cliche answer.
CH: I love the Met – it’s an experience going into the Met.
Rachel: Yeah, that’s true. It is very much an experience and you could get lost in there for days. They also have some of my favorite works by Degas, which speak to me because of my dance background. I also have some special memories from the Met because they have a beautiful rooftop area that my husband and I would visit since the Museum was an easy walk from our Upper East Side apartment.
CH: I love it. Thank you so much for spending time with me today, Rachel!