In our most recent #SalesforceQA, we caught up with Christie Fidura, Director of EMEA Developer Marketing at Salesforce.
Christie discusses her interesting career journey, shares her best advice for others navigating a career in the Salesforce ecosystem and talks about the importance of community both for career success and to improve diversity in tech.
Salesforce Republic (SR): You’ve had an interesting and very successful career and now work in quite a niche role within a wide sector. Could you talk us through how you got to where you are today as Director, EMEA Developer Marketing for Salesforce?
Christie Fidura (CF): My career path has been quite a meander! When I was at university reading English and Spanish, I was accepted into an exclusive summer program for students at my father’s factory, the DuPont Spruance Fibers Plant in Virginia. There, I learned a new computer program, wrote a user guide for it, and taught it 1-to-1 to the very senior technical engineers at the plant.
Upon returning to university, I built on this experience and took a Technical Writing class. This gave me the credentials I needed to look for a job in this field after graduating. As this was the early 90’s, the boom of the software industry, Technical Writing was a good, solid career, one I thought I would stick with it for the remainder of my working life.
After several years of building up my professional Technical Writing skills, my company was acquired by a global software company. This is when I was offered the opportunity to relocate to Mountain View, California along with 7 of our technical engineers. Technical Writers were in very short supply in Silicon Valley. After just one year in California, I was invited to move to the UK to launch our software application there and become the product expert.
For the next 10 years, I managed to (mostly) survive the recession, bouncing from one role to the next, always relying heavily on my technical communication skills. I tried product management, product marketing, sales enablement, post-sales implementation training, and lots more. Each one of these roles shaped me, giving me more skills and exposing me to new exciting technologies.
I was then offered a role at Adobe as a Marketing Manager. Ironically this was to support the very Technical Writing software I had used previously to write user manuals and online help. Once again this role gave me new skills. I learned how to manage a budget, raise purchase orders, identify and build relationships with strategic business partners, create an influencer community and execute events.
I took another job at Adobe, managing the European/Middle Eastern/African community, a passionate group of people who raised awareness of Adobe technology within their networks. This is when I realised that although words are powerful, people are awesome. I saw these people working together, supporting one another, and shaping the future of technology. This realisation had an unexpected bonus of helping me boil down that what I really loved doing was a combination of several things: cutting-edge technology, developers, community and marketing.
I then entered the “niche” space of Developer Marketing, which allows me to be with developers, learning from them and expanding my deep-seated love of technology, building community and executing marketing activities. It’s perfect!
SR: As a woman working in tech, what are some of the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your career in a traditionally male-dominated industry?
CF: I’m exceedingly lucky in that I haven’t ever felt particularly discriminated or diminished. I am a naturally curious person, and my curiosity has always been the most dominant part of my personality. When I’m interested in something, I ask a lot of questions, and I come across as very confident.
With developers, they love nothing more than talking about their code, their technology, their creation, so it was easy for me to use my curiosity to strike up conversations about the product, which allowed me to build relationships. I’ve actually found it more difficult over the years to sit in meetings with marketing professionals more than developers!
SR: What advice do you have for other women looking to succeed in the Salesforce space or the world of tech in general?
CF: The technology industry can seem incredibly daunting and intimidating to others, but keep in mind that every company needs the same types of fundamental roles: human resources, payment processing, marketing, etc. Don’t let your lack of understanding about the technology product keep you from applying.
And if you are interested in becoming a technical person, I have some ideas which might prove useful:
- Use social media for its intended purpose – to connect and network. Find people doing the role you want, or the changemakers in that industry, and follow them to get inspired. Connect with them on social, explaining why you value their insights. Ask for their support or advice.
- Learn as much as you can – and don’t stop! The world doesn’t stand still, nor should your learning. Attend free group meetups, find online courses that you can take and continue learning.
- Build up your social profile – give yourself a digital presence that represents who you are and where you want to go.
- Help others as you want to be helped – if you won’t assist someone in need that’s in your network, why are you connected with them? We all need to learn from and lean on each other.
SR: You’re heavily involved in the Salesforce Women’s network. In your opinion, how important are community groups when it comes to improving diversity and equality in both Salesforce and the tech space in general?
CF: Honestly, I never used to believe in the power of community groups to help my career. I thought I could do it all on my own. How naïve!
There’s strength in numbers, and opportunity in strength. Groups have the ability to make a change in their society, to teach you something new, to propel you forward in your career, and to open doors that you never would have imagined. They can educate you on how to improve yourself, and give you the mentorship and support you need to put your new skills to the test or to reach for new heights. That support system is critical to success.
SR: How do you think businesses and communities can work on improving the numbers of women working in the tech space?
CF: I think it has to be a collaborative effort between the community and the business. Corporations are getting better at holding themselves to a published diversity quota as well as balancing out the pay gap.
Conferences are getting better at publishing Codes of Conduct to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome. These steps create a culture of positivity that filters out to the community. And each new hire that rides in on that wave of positivity reinforces diversity and a supportive culture within the organisation.
SR: Could you discuss some of the initiatives in place at Salesforce to encourage more diversity and equality in the tech space?
CF: At Salesforce, we have a culture of equality – it’s one of our core values. For us, it isn’t about colour or gender, it’s about bringing your true authentic self to work. Our Office of Equality, led by our Chief Equality Officer Tony Prophet, empowers employees globally. Our employee equality groups are voluntary, employee-led groups that serve as a resource for members by fostering a diverse, inclusive workplace. These groups help cultivate a sense of belonging and inclusion at Salesforce.
Some of my favourite groups are the Women’s Network, EarthForce (environmental responsibility) and BOLDForce (the Black Organisation for Leadership and Development). The best thing about these groups is that you can be an ally of any and all of them. Again, this is the power of people combining to make a difference and I love to support these groups.
SR: In your experience, what are some of the key traits needed for a successful career working in either the Salesforce ecosystem or tech in general?
CF: Constant curiosity! As I’ve shown here, it’s really helped me get to where I am today.
Keep learning! Education doesn’t stop when you leave school. Keep gaining skills and introducing yourself to new concepts. We have an incredible free online training and education platform called Trailhead. You can learn all kinds of soft and hard skills there, everything from cultivating equality, to getting a promotion, to learning how to use the Salesforce platform. You can also earn credentials there to help you find a job in our ecosystem with our partners and customers. (Did I mention it’s free?)
Build your network! Find your people and connect with them. And be sure to help anyone who asks for it.
SR: What is the importance of networking and getting involved in community groups when it comes to career success in the world of tech?
CF: Networking is your opportunity to learn, improve and grow. The easiest way to network is to find people who are already pursuing your passion, and join up with them. They will encourage you, support you, and even give you opportunities. You just never know where that next introduction will eventually lead!
SR: Finally, what’s the best piece of advice that you have received throughout your career?
CF: Be open to change. You never know where you might end up!
If you’re a Salesforce professional and would like to join Christie Fidura in our Q&A series, please get in touch with us today!