Request a Demo

Meet Celia Ma: Biz Ops Manager, Small Business Owner, and Artist

Medallia: Celia Ma

When Celia first heard about Medallia in 2015, she didn’t expect to join the team—and she certainly didn’t expect the course of her life to change after two months on the job. Below, she explains what drew her to the company, how she and her colleagues get through tough times, and what she’s excited about in the coming months and years, both at Medallia and in her own small business.

What do you do at Medallia?

I’m part of the Professional Services Operations team, which helps our Professional Services team run smoothly. We handle everything from revenue forecasting to staffing and capacity management to process enablement and training. I’ve done a bit of it all, but I’m currently focused on staffing and capacity management for PS across North America.

Because our team’s clients are fellow Medallians, we get to see the impact of our work every day. In staffing, for example, we try to take into account our colleagues’ professional development goals. And when we introduce a new process or tool, we get to hear directly how it’s helping. That’s really rewarding. And by supporting the people who interact with Medallia’s customers, we’re creating value for those customers, as well.

What originally drew you to Medallia?

I was working as a consultant when I first started talking to a Medallia recruiter. I found the conversation interesting, so I kept the discussion going—and with each person I talked to, I grew more interested. I saw the company’s potential for further growth, and I liked the idea that I could create my own career here. There were a lot of opportunities to get my hands dirty and make an impact.

The culture and people were also breath of fresh air. I could tell Medallia cared about its employees as individuals. So eventually, I joined as an implementations analyst on the delivery side of Professional Services. After a couple of years, I moved over to PS Ops.

What stands out to you about Medallia’s culture?

It was clear to me from my first days here that this place was special. Cultural onboarding, for example, was a transformative experience. It helped me peel back the protective layers I had developed, and I got to know my fellow Medallians on a deeper level. I was also struck by Amy and Borge’s candor during fireside chats and company announcements. They’re transparent about challenges—and they invite us to come to them with questions and suggestions. It makes me feel like Medallia’s success belongs to all of us.

And my team has been so supportive of me from the start. Just a couple of months after I joined, I was walking to the Caltrain when a driver came speeding around a bend, ran a red light, and hit me. Miraculously, my head, spine, and neck were all okay, but I broke bones in my shoulder and had to go on medical leave. I’ll never forget the day I came back—the entire Implementations team gathered to surprise me. Many of them didn’t even know me yet because I was so new! It was really sweet, and just one of many examples of how much people here care about each other.

How has Medallia changed since you joined?

There’s definitely been a lot of change, from new initiatives to new leadership to reorgs. Those transitions can be painful at times. But I do think each change has been a step in the right direction. The leaders we have now are always willing to go above and beyond and advocate for us, and they don’t shy away from the tough problems.

On the Professional Services side, we’re shifting to a pod model in which dedicated project managers and analysts specialize in managing small to medium business accounts, while the rest of the team focuses on enterprise-level customers. There are lots of levers we can pull, and I’m excited to be part of the process.

Tell us about your life outside Medallia.

I just got engaged, and I’m genuinely enjoying wedding planning right now. I’m also an artist and educator, and I manage a small business called Paint the Town, which offers painting parties and other artistic services.

It actually all started during Medallia onboarding. We did a personal challenge where we got to choose a project that was meaningful to us, and I immediately thought, “I want to start drawing and painting again.” When I was a kid, I always thought I’d work in the arts someday, but because I went the business route I had fallen out of touch with that passion. I got a bunch of art supplies as part of that project, and then the car accident pushed me to take the next step and practice more regularly, which laid the foundation for starting my business. I realized if my life had ended at that moment, there would have been so much left undone. I decided to do more of the things that brought me joy and fulfillment. No more excuses.

I started out with an Etsy store, but figured out I was more motivated by art as a shared experience, so I started teaching. That turned into offering painting parties, which I love because most people who attend are complete beginners. They come in with so much self-doubt. It’s an amazing experience to see them surprise themselves with what they can do.

I ran the business by myself for about six months, then started hiring other instructors to keep up with demand. We have 10 instructors now, and do about 10 events per week in the Bay Area, with more in Sacramento and San Diego. The personal challenge to get back into art has evolved into a challenge of, “How far can I take this?” I’d like to scale in a way that lets me be less involved in the day-to-day operations, and I have a lot of ideas for growth. I’m excited to see where things go.

This story was created in conjunction with Job Portraits, a San Francisco-based creative agency that helps teams scale using culture-focused content.