Farewell Wishes to our Cherished Business Analyst: Courtney Appleton

It’s never easy, and always rather unpleasant, to say goodbye to a member of your team… especially one that is so admired and loved by your customers and partners. 

Courtney formally joined the DNS team in January 2015… this after spending some time with us as a Coachlab intern during 2014. She started off as a junior business analyst and was eventually redeployed (to use a familiar South African term) to the relative uncharted field (at least within the context of DNS) of project management. She was literally thrown into the deep end and asked to create and run a PM role and framework from scratch. 

As if this wasn’t challenging enough, Courtney’s role was made even more difficult by the fact that she not only had to navigate a male dominated environment, being the technical environments of the Dev and Devops teams, but also had top deal with the inertia of changing legacy mindsets and practices that had been established over many years. She had to work with people who were her seniors in terms of experience and knowledge and then also show leadership to her peers and the junior staff. Looking back at it, with the benefit of hindsight, it was a monumental responsibility to take on… but she took on the role and personally invested herself in making it work.

Don’t get me wrong, Courtney’s role in DNS has not just been smooth sailing as she will no doubt also attest. As with many tight-knit and under-resourced teams, working under pressure of deadlines and the ongoing need for innovation, she encountered many disappointments and challenges. Although it might not have seemed that way at the time, her role as the newly created PM meant that she was going to be the tip of the Spear… where, in many instances, the storm was at its worst. Her role in chartering new territory in the PM space for DNS meant that she was inevitably going to be the point person on some of our biggest challenges… and surprisingly enough, most of these were internal challenges.

If you had asked me in 2016/2017 where we would encounter our biggest challenges as we grew our business and evolved our technology, I would have told you externally… from the market, from our clients, from our competitors and from the domain name industry as a whole. I would have been wrong… some of the most significant challenges we have faced have been internal and involved lifting our game and expectations to achieve our new goals. Project management was central to this… and as a result Courtney’s role was central to this.

We may not yet have settled on the best project management framework for our business… especially one that allows us to get the best out of our people. Perhaps, rather ironically, we may have recently turned the corner in this regard. However, that does not detract from the fact that Courtney helped us create something from nothing… something that helped us through the difficult times; a system that allowed us to retain some form of sanity in amongst the chaos. We had achieved, in some respect, organised chaos. 

But as helpful and important as Courtney’s project management role has been, in my opinion, it’s not what defines her most valuable contribution to DNS. To me, her role as a customer liaison and ambassador is what stands out the most. She took a personal interest in the presentation of our products and services and the welfare of our customers who used them. She tried to ensure that their interests and expectations received top priority within our organised chaos… even if this created dissent and unhappiness within the ranks. She was undoubtedly correct in this approach…. We quickly forget that we are a solutions based business and that our customer’s needs and expectations should be at the core of our business strategy. Thanks to Courtney our clients always came first… and this is evidenced by the numerous responses and well wishes I received from customers when they were told of Courtney’s leaving. I can categorically say that Courtney was loved and respected by each one of them… and that tells me she was doing something really great and something really important for DNS… The full benefit of which I don’t think we have yet realised or appreciated.

In addition to her important contribution in keeping our customers satisfied, Courtney has also developed her own persona and character within the DNS team. Most people like to fly under the radar and avoid conflicts or raising their hands and volunteering for the tough assignments. Not Courtney…  She did so much behind the scenes that we are undoubtedly going to feel her absence in the coming weeks and months. 

Fortunately, we will not lose Courtney completely. She will likely still have some role to play in the future development and framing of our products and services, even only as a part time (remote) consultant. 

Courtney, we wish you all the best in your future endeavours and your new career path. I would like to believe that you will remain a proud DNS alumni and that you will look back at your time with us with a preponderance of fond memories. Remember, what DNS is today, is what you helped create… we are as much a reflection of you as you are of us.  

– Go Well
Farewell Wishes from Neil Dundas

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