Winning by Design’s Emilia D’Anzica Has No Fear of Constantly Seeking to Improve as a Customer Success Consultant

February 7, 2020

Emilia D’Anzica says growing up around her family’s pizzeria in Kelowna, British Columbia, caused her to gravitate naturally toward a career in customer success. “I’m sure as soon as I was old enough, my dad put a wet rag in my hand and told me to wipe down the tables,” she laughs. “That put me right in front of customers — and I’ve been focused on them ever since.”

As a partner in Silicon Valley-based Winning By Design, a B2B, SaaS and inside sales consultancy, Emilia works with tech companies all over the world, helping them build playbooks and plan customer journeys. In some cases, she acts as the de facto Chief Customer Officer (CCO) for her clients while she builds their customer success organization.

A Witness to the Evolution of "Customer Success"

Emilia’s route to consulting began before “customer success” was a common term in business, let alone a methodology and career field. “I’ve been working in tech for 20 years,” Emilia says. “When I first moved into what is now called customer success, it was simply known as ‘account management.’”

In the late 1990s, not long after graduating from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Candian Studies and Social History, Emilia took a job as a marketing manager at in San Francisco. In 2001, she joined a Danish firm, GN Netcom, as a global project manager based in Copenhagen. Emilia also worked briefly in Versailles, France, and in Italy, where her family is originally from.

She then decided to return to the Bay Area — the place she says she really wanted to live. And Emilia picked an ideal time to relocate. “I moved to Silicon Valley as the modern tech economy started to take off in the early 2000s, and that meant lots of opportunities for me to hone my customer success chops,” she says.

Since that move, Emilia has taken her customer success expertise to companies like RedEnvelope, Jobvite, BrightEdge, and WalkMe. In December 2018, she joined Winning By Design. And somehow, along the way, she also got married, had three children, and earned an MBA, focusing on Global Competition and Strategy from St. Mary’s College of California.

Today, Emilia lives with her family in Sonoma, which she says is the perfect location for her “athletic and outdoorsy family.” And, being from British Columbia, Emilia is happy to live close to the mountains again, too. While there is no typical workday for Emilia due to the nature of her assignments, she takes care to devote ample time to her clients and her family every day.

Here’s how Emilia likes to organize her schedule:

Early Morning

Emilia is usually up by 5:00 a.m. “I have an alarm set for 5:55 a.m., but I never have to use it because I wake up naturally,” she says.

Emilia credits that trait, as well as her love of exercise, to her genes. Her father, Tony D’Anzica, is a former Olympic athlete who represented the United States in Rome in 1960 as a cyclist. And he was running marathons well into his 60s, and still exercises daily well into his 80s, Emilia says.

On at least three weekday mornings, and on every weekend morning, Emilia is out running, hiking, or cycling. But her first and most important task every weekday is to make breakfast for her kids and then, prepare their school lunches. “I also take time to read and reflect on the consulting work in front of me for that day,” Emilia says. “But I try really hard not to answer any emails before I get on the shuttle to San Francisco at 7:00 a.m.”

Work Day

How Emilia’s day unfolds after she gets to work depends largely on how many assignments she has and which clients she needs to meet with. “Right now, I’m working on customer success engagements with five clients,” she says. “It’s incredibly challenging to work on three different computers, keep my email inboxes straight, and make sure I’m using the right company name in my communication!”

Whatever the assignment, Emilia says her first ask of a client is to listen to their customer calls because it’s “a great way to understand what the client’s value proposition is and how they enable their customers.” Recently, a customer told Emilia that they never recorded their sales calls because it just wasn’t done in their industry. “I told them, ‘Okay, then you’re going to be a pioneer,’ Emilia says. “It can be scary for clients to start recording calls if they haven’t done it before, but I find that they quickly embrace it after they get over their initial fear.”

The conversation intelligence platform is a big help to Emilia in her daily work. “Even on my way to or from a client engagement, I can review calls and give real-time feedback. That’s a tremendous help to me in coaching individuals and teams for customer success,” she says. “I like that I can speed up the conversations, jump to the relevant parts, search and filter terms, and see who did the most talking. It gives me a good preface to begin coaching.”

Emilia also uses to ramp up on new projects quickly at Winning by Design. “I can listen to my partners’ calls before I even speak to the customer,” she says “ just makes the hand-off so much faster. I’m able to ask customers the right questions, like situational ones, because I already know what’s happening. That allows me to go deeper with the customer, as early as within the first call.”

Emilia seeks out feedback on her own performance from her business partners, saying that she’s “never afraid” to send them her call recordings in “I value their feedback, even if I know it may not be positive,” she says. “And allows me to receive their input in a very safe learning environment.”


Emilia’s commute by shuttle back to Sonoma takes an hour and a half, so she typically leaves San Francisco around 4 p.m. “I can work during that entire 90-minute shuttle ride, so I’m still giving time to my clients,” Emilia says. And, if she does find a little downtime on her long commute, she fills that time with personal learning. “I typically listen to at least five podcasts or TED Talks each week,” she says.

Emilia arrives home around 6 p.m. and the next three hours are dedicated to being Mom. “I’m from an Italian immigrant family, so of course we love to cook and have lively conversations,” she says. Emilia and her family are mainly vegetarian, and while she draws heavily on her Italian heritage in the kitchen, the family also loves Mexican and Cajun food.

One ritual Emilia and her husband enjoy every night is asking each of their children what the best part of their day was, and if they had any challenges to overcome. The answer Emilia loves to hear most? “Mom, I didn’t have a bad day and I have nothing bad to report!”

By 9 p.m., Emilia is focused on wrapping up her day — and getting the kids to bed. She reads for about 15 minutes, just to relax and get away from the computer or phone screen. Then, it’s lights-out for everyone at 10 p.m. “That’s so we can all get some deep sleep,” she says.

And Emilia needs to keep her head clear and her energy up to juggle all of her diverse assignments and clients. Despite her deep commitment to her work, Emilia admits she’s human, and still falls short sometimes — but she sees those experiences as important to her ongoing professional growth. “Not every consulting engagement is successful,” she says. “But I think what fuels success in this business is dedication and being willing to fail.”

We hope you enjoyed this “day in the life” spotlight featuring one of our amazing customers! Be on the lookout for more of these posts, which are meant to inspire you, help you build your knowledge, and learn about the many ways that people are using the platform, every day, to gain insights and drive individual and team performance.

Written by Sophie Cheng, Director of Customer Marketing for

Sophie is an internationally experienced Marketing Professional. Having worked in a variety of markets and industries including Automotive, Oil and Gas, Financial Services, Healthcare and Tech, the one constant is her passion for creating customer value. When she's not at work her life revolves around good food and wine, traveling the world, and spending time with her family and friends

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