The Power of Connection: How Networking, Advocacy, and Community Drive Professional Growth for Women in the Customer Contact Industry
This week, we welcome Sandy Ko to the Digitally Irresistible podcast. Sandy is the founder and principal of CCWomen, a networking and advocacy community for women in the contact center industry.
After joining the contact center industry, Sandy recognized a need for women to find networking, mentorship, and leadership connections among other professional women with similar experiences. In 2018, Sandy founded CCWomen within her customer contact parent company, Customer Management Practice (CMP), to create a space for women to discuss their careers, share information and opportunities, celebrate each other’s successes, inspire professional and personal growth, build relationships, and create meaningful change for diversity and inclusion.
On this episode, we discuss how Sandy’s commitment to connection, networking, and leadership helps women in the contact center industry achieve their professional goals within a thriving community of like-minded people.
How One Woman’s Search for Belonging Built Bridges Across an Industry
Sandy is living proof of the strength in embracing change when building a meaningful, successful career. She changed careers from music education to event planning before finding her passion in the customer contact industry. Integral to Sandy’s success in this industry was her approach to authenticity and connection that began in her childhood. At a young age, Sandy moved to the United States with her family. Facing a new culture with unfamiliar customs, Sandy’s family found a sense of belonging with the Korean American community that helped them integrate into the broader culture through shared experiences and support.
As an adult on her career journey, Sandy found the same need for connection in her professional life. Joining the customer contact industry gave Sandy the opportunity to go to a conference where she met other professional women who were ambitious, strong, and inspirational. That’s when it clicked: the key to a career path that inspires authenticity and success is community. The same sense of belonging her family found within the Korean American community could provide a model for networking, mentorship, and community for women in Sandy’s chosen field.
Sandy reached out to some of these women to meet over 7 a.m. mimosas on the last day of the conference. This informal meeting ignited the spark that led to the launch of CCWomen. In the five years since these encounters, CCWomen has grown into a thriving community of women who are redefining the customer contact industry. The growth of CCWomen demonstrates how providing venues for professional networking and community-building inspires excellence, creates a culture of authentic connection, and drives industry-level innovations.
Paving the Path to Empowerment for Women in the Contact Center Industry
To make her vision for CCWomen a reality, Sandy leveraged her background in event planning and love of organizing. Her goal was to develop events that would serve as a platform for community building, support, and empowerment for women. In addition to in-person events, Sandy recognized an opportunity to create digital connections through content generation, social media, and more to build CCWomen into an authoritative hub of resources for the industry.
Tri-Annual CCWomen Summits
Each year, there are three CCWomen Summits that women and allies can attend. Sandy invites industry experts, emerging leaders, life coaches, and other speakers to engage attendees on a wide range of subjects. These speaking engagements, masterclasses, and discussion panels provide a space for women in the industry to have open conversations in a professional and supportive environment.
These events provide a wealth of information and networking opportunities that help attendees grow and succeed as professionals in the customer contact industry. Topics and conversations also go beyond work. Real community means providing support for other needs such as maintaining a work-life balance and encouraging self-care alongside professional growth.
Also critical to CCWomen’s messaging is a commitment to diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. In addition to advocating for women, the CCWomen Summits provide a platform for advocates to promote awareness and action for disability rights, religious inclusion, and more. Their efforts have pushed meaningful progress for diversity, equity, and inclusion across the industry.
Providing Strategic Toolkits Through Content and Resources in the Digital Sphere
Beyond their events, CCWomen builds a sense of community online and through social media. Sandy worked to create a CCWomen website to serve as a central hub for resources, tools, and content for women in the customer contact industry. CCWomen’s content—from articles to podcasts to social media engagement—broaches topics like work-life balance, leadership skills, salary negotiations, and more. Sandy’s goal is to build strategic toolkits of information and resources that members can use to define their own goals and set boundaries to grow both personally and professionally.
Education, Conversation, and Storytelling All Contribute to the Success and Support of CCWomen’s Community
Together, these events and resources have succeeded in building a community of women and allies who invest in each other’s success in real, meaningful ways. Sandy encourages the members of CCWomen to embrace networking and build connections. Everyone needs support and community to thrive personally and professionally. Sharing these conversations and stories provides encouragement and also has the potential to build lifelong friendships.
The CCWomen Hall of Fame
CCWomen also strives to celebrate the success of individuals within their community. The CCWomen Hall of Fame is a yearly event that acknowledges the achievements of established and up-and-coming women making a significant impact in the customer contact industry. By sharing the success of these women, other members of the community can find inspiration and networking opportunities for their own success.
The Four Pillars of a CCWomen Hall of Fame Inductee
There are four pillars that describe the qualities and achievements every CCWomen Hall of Fame Inductee possesses:
- Build the Stage – Empowering other women and providing them opportunities to shine through coaching, mentorship, and sponsorship.
- Crystal Clear – Valuing transparency by having the courage to conduct research, talk about tough topics, set high standards, maintain boundaries, and keep commitments.
- Skin in the Game – Leading with action to create communities and inspire engagement in a way that prioritizes compassion, connection, and a shared sense of humanity and community.
- Ready for Change – Moving the bar for all underrepresented women and allies in measurable and enduring ways that break barriers and promote diversity, equity, access, and inclusion.
From Morning Mimosas to Moving Mountains in the Contact Center Industry, CCWomen Continues to Grow
CCWomen membership is always growing. Sandy’s goal is to continue inspiring women to find support in the space CCWomen provides and embody their mission and purpose. Sandy sees unlimited potential for CCWomen to invite allies to join in her efforts and expand outside the United States to further enrich and diversify their community.
Sandy’s efforts have grown CCWomen from an informal gathering over mimosas to a series of impactful events held over the course of each year. This community of empowered, industry-shaping professional women provides proof of what can be accomplished when they come together to invest in each other’s success, share experiences and insight, and inspire a culture of growth and connection. CCWomen’s efforts enable professional growth while also meeting the need for community and promoting advocacy efforts that embody community values and create smiles within and beyond the contact center industry.
What Sandy Does for Fun
Though her parents were avid golf fans, Sandy only recently decided to pick up her mom’s clubs and begin her journey to becoming a golf master. She loves the satisfaction of improving at a difficult sport and enjoys networking on the greens with friends and colleagues.