The Validis French Connection

Validis Staff Interview
by Sheena VanDeVanter

When I first met Geraldine Peyer, Sr. Customer Support Specialist at Validis, I was immediately taken by her charming French accent.  Overhearing her on the phone was more like listening to lilting poetry than detailed technical support, something she provides to our clients on a daily basis.

I recently had the pleasure of sitting down to Geraldine to find out a bit more about how she came tjoin Validis, her background, her role with the team and how it’s changing.

Sheena: Hi Geraldine, thank you for taking the time to sit down with me today.

Geraldine: My pleasure.

Sheena: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Geraldine: I am from the south of France and educated in Paris where I studied Communications and Advertising.  I went on to get my master’s degree in Innovation and Communication. 

From there I went on to intern with a couple of large advertising agencies where my focus was on UX design.  I worked in social media marketing and social games as well as writing blogs and creative writing for advertising.

Sheena: What brought you to Validis?

Geraldine: At my last job before Validis I was responsible for supporting a social analytics API with a SaaS client.  This plus the fact that I was fluent in English and French is what made me a good fit for Validis.  At the time the company was just starting to expand into Canada and very much needed a French speaker who understood this type of  technology.

Sheena:  Sounds like Validis was lucky to find you!

Geraldine: Yes, in my past job the software was very similar, gathering social media data and pushing it to our own site to generate reports that are useful to social media managers. 

Sheena: What would you say is the most rewarding part of your job?

Geraldine: What I really like is when you solve a user’s issue. I love feeling that you’re saving someone’s day.  [DataShare] is not complicated for us because we use it all day every day, so we can easily see when it’s this little thing that wasn’t set up correctly. For the user they just know it isn’t doing what they need it to do.

More and more users are turning to the forums to solve their issues, but we are always here, and when I can help out one of our clients it is very rewarding.

Sheena: What brought you from the UK office in London to the US office in Austin, Texas?

Geraldine: As we expanded the business into North America, I was already working a late shift to support Canada.  When the opportunity came up to expand the offices in the US my experience with support made me ideal to help build the business here. Honestly, it was my teenage dream to move to the US and I figured that if there was the possibility to do it, I should.  So I ran at the opportunity and it finally happened. 

Sheena: Teenage dream?

Geraldine: People in America really have no idea what a big myth it is for us.  America is this unknown land that we hear a lot about through the movies, all the series.  I think in France it’s more than in the UK because they have a lot of their own cultural content in terms of movies and series.  Lots of music is as well.  In France, we get a lot of American content.  I grew up in the 90s with all of this.  That’s why I’m saying it was very much like a teenage dream to finally get here.  The more I can see like Chicago, California, Florida, New York the happier I am.  I want to see the most I can and discover everything we only see through television and movies. I want to see it all.

Sheena: I was sad to find out that we’re losing you back to the London office.  How did that come about?

Geraldine:  I went over to London to help them on a project and while I was there, we got to talking.  They didn’t know my background, nobody had any idea that I worked in user experience and website architecture before Validis.  I discovered that they needed someone with my background, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity for me to return to doing what I trained for and what I love.

Sheena: Perfect!  I imagine you must have lots of great feedback from the clients you help that will be invaluable to the team.

Geraldine: Having been with Validis for five years and given my previous experience I’ve always had this view on how we can make the tool more useful and efficient for users.  We have teams in place to address our ideas and suggestions from clients.  We have a process for change requests and new ideas so that we can review and prioritize depending on the complexity of the change and current workloads.

Sheena: What will you miss about Texas?

Geraldine: The weather, the food, the atmosphere, and how nice people are.  I’ve never had so many friends in my life anywhere.  It’s so easy to make friends here.  I’m happy that I’m going back, of course, but at the same time, I’m not happy to leave Austin.  

It’s crazy how close to nature you are here, even in the city.  Even just a ten-minute drive from my place and I’m walking next to the river where it’s green all the time.  

I love [London] and it will be great to be in Europe and be closer to my family.  It will be so much easier and less expensive to go home to France from London than from here in America.  I’m looking forward to traveling more around Europe as well, which I haven’t visited that much. I love traveling and discovering places. 

Sheena: We certainly will miss you, but the UK office is lucky to have someone with your education and experience contributing to the user experience team.

Geraldine: I know how lucky I am to work at Validis.  It’s a great challenge and a new product that I really want to see succeed.  I love seeing how many more uploads are coming and user satisfaction increasing.  I want to improve it even more in my new role with user experience.

Geraldine Peyer will be relocating to Validis HQ in London in March 2019.