Growing together: reflections on my six years in FSR

Written by Rebeca Gutierrez

June 1st, 2021

Today it’s my 6th year anniversary in FireServiceRota, some of you might already know me. I am Rebeca and I am currently the Customer Success Leader in the company.

Six years feel like too much but also too little. I’d like to share with you a little bit about my journey so you can understand how FSR works “on the other side”. Back in 2015, the company had only three people: Cor, Ruben and Richard (a firefighter in The Netherlands). The software was only available in The Netherlands, and it was widely used and positively received by Dutch customers. Ruben said they wanted to enter the UK, but there was no clear path yet. 


When I graduated as a Software Engineer, I was desperately looking for the right company for me. I knew what I did and did not want for my professional career and workplace. I was striving to do something meaningful and looking for a company to look at me as a human, not an asset. I wanted a company that wanted to grow with me, not at my expense. It was a very difficult and exhausting process, I was practically giving up.

But then the opportunity to join FireServiceRota arrived just at the right place, the right time. Serendipity they call it. At the beginning it was a bit difficult to explain to my family and friends why I had made this decision to join what they saw as a “small not-so-cool company” instead of joining one of the big ones: Microsoft, Google, Oracle. It was difficult to convey to them my excitement to be part of what FireServiceRota did and most importantly the trust I had in the product, in Ruben and Cor. They believed in me as much as I believed in them and the company’s growth. I was thrilled by the work they were doing and eager to start developing software that was going to be used by firefighters across the sea; software that made their jobs easier and helped them provide cover to their communities in order to keep them safe.

I realised quite soon that I wanted to do more than coding, and don’t get me wrong, software development is very exciting, but I always saw it as the tool that was eventually going to help me attend my calling. 

Before I graduated, I came to the conclusion that my “calling” was to help others. I wanted to make other people’s lives easier and a little bit better. So I was aiming to be in “the battlefield”, talking to customers, understanding their struggles and their needs so that we could grow our product and make it better. I asked for the opportunity to do so, which means, in a small company, that I asked for the opportunity to create my own role. This opportunity arose when we entered the UK market.

It has been quite a journey, a very exciting one indeed. I have learned a lot and I have managed to overcome my biggest fears. Six years ago I had never imagined I could be standing in a room full of strategic leaders of several UK Fire and Rescue Services, showing them how to use a system that would make their jobs easier or discussing a new feature for the system that could improve the coverage they give to their communities. I represent FireServiceRota across the UK, can you imagine that? Not even in my wildest dreams I thought I would be doing this so soon, in only six years.

We now have customers in three different countries: The Netherlands, UK and Denmark. This means our team has grown and now we have a Customer Success Team, a team that didn’t exist six years ago. 

I created it with a very clear vision of how it would look like in 10 years. Our mission is to provide world-class service to our customers. Only two years have passed since its creation and the team is already molding into what I had envisioned but with a twist. And that twist is the ever changing environment we are in and the thoughts and ideas my team members have that enrich the vision I initially had. 

Collaboration and communication are key both with customers but also within our team. I have learned how to transfer knowledge to others, how to delegate, how to create learning opportunities, how to speak up and solve problems, but most importantly I have learned how to lead while maintaining my (our) humanity. 

There have been times where I get so frustrated I end up crying, and my team has been there to support me. Mistakes happen and we learn from them. We work in an environment that allows you to step out of your comfort zone and challenge yourself, and if you fail, the team will be there by your side. We’ve got each other's back and this applies also with our customers.

We try to do our best every day. We love to hear happy customers after we have solved their questions, fixed their issues, developed a new feature or said “yes, that is possible within FSR”. However, sometimes it is a bit difficult to manage expectations as we are the bridge between the Development Team and the Customers, but it is our job to make this process as smooth as possible for everyone. We see customers as part of our team; we grow together, we help each other and we also go through difficult times together. Being open, courageous and vulnerable has helped us create a meaningful relationship with each customer, this is what world-class means to us. We care deeply about our customers and that reflects in our day to day. The Customer Success Team is not perfect yet, but to be honest I am not sure I would ever want us to be perfect. I want us to be human.

These are exciting times for FireServiceRota. New products are being launched and our team is growing. We pride ourselves in our team culture and we try to extend this to our customers as much as we can. You have my word that we will never lose our humanity nor fail in providing the amazing customer service you deserve.

Thank you Martin, Sam, Luke, Anne-Marie, Oli, Paul, Colin P, Wendy, Andrew, Sharon, Adam B, Adam J, Colin N, Sally, Steve, Ian, Alex, Warren, Chris, Scott, Alison, Darren, Joe, Terry, Lisa, Lotte and many, many more customers who have trusted me and helped me grow during this process.

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