Geraldine talks about her journey in the Salesforce ecosystem and offers advice to others who are looking to become an MVP.
Geraldine also mentions top tips on how to stand out during an interview and discusses the benefits of getting involved with the community.
Salesforce Republic (SR): Could you talk us through how you got into the Salesforce ecosystem and how you got to where
you are today?
Geraldine Gray (GG): Communities are key.
I’ve prioritized building a support network of mentors, colleagues, and like-minded professionals, both within the Salesforce ecosystem and beyond. In particular, I took on the responsibility of championing women in tech way before WIT was considered important or cool.
To understand a little more about my journey within the Salesforce ecosystem, let’s rewind to 2010: I started blazing a trail for female tech mentorship as the founder of Salesforce’s Girly Geeks (now the global community, Salesforce Women In Tech). My original motivation for setting up the group was to make friends but it quickly took off and became a beacon to other women with the clear, guiding insight that communities can build careers.
I knew then, as I know now, that developing an honest, open network for other women in the tech sector and entrepreneurship is an essential path for many looking to further their careers. As leaders, we must empower and encourage our female colleagues to seek and ask for more – a promotion, ways to increase their skill sets, opportunities on big projects, and we need to encourage them to set high goals in work and at home.
I continued my Salesforce journey when I joined the top consultancy Appirio in 2011. I became known as a “consultant to put on hard projects.” My travel schedule from coast to coast was grueling, and some of the business challenges I was asked to solve for Fortune 50 companies brought difficult days and long, long nights. I tried to lead teams with fun, flair, and finesse, always striving to deliver excellent work that brought real efficiencies to those companies’ bottom line. All of this experience set me up for my role as CEO of Endiem.
Being an entrepreneur is not for weaklings. It’s also a fact that women-led Salesforce consultancies are few and far between. I’ve used my position as CEO of Endiem to develop a unique program of hiring women with little-to-no prior technology experience and building them into incredibly talented, skilled, knowledgeable consultants within two years.
Throughout this journey, I can’t tell you how many times my network has guided me through challenges and pitfalls with superb advice. They have shared ideas, content, and best practices, with honesty and transparency. Knowing that I have a safety net of knowledge under me is a comfort as I make decisions that impact Endiem.
Build your community, work hard and success will come.
SR: What advice would you give to others looking to progress in their Salesforce career and take on those senior leadership positions?
GG: Never stop learning, and that includes learning from your customers. I was lucky enough to work with Dulce Borjas, CIO of ENGIE North America, for a couple of years – she has a magical way of getting the best out of her team while giving them encouragement, responsibilities, and her time. She’s always ready with a smile or joke, and she’s never intimidated by being the only woman in the room. Dulce’s vision of “IT as a Service” at ENGIE inspired the Endiem Team to work on our own digital transformation project in 2019 – the changes we made contributed massively to our ability to succeed and deliver successful projects in the previous 18 months even as COVID impacted us all.
Even though I have 20 years of Salesforce experience and have grown a multi-million-dollar, self-funded business from zero dollars, I often look around the room while on projects and wonder when I am going to be uncovered as not smart enough – it hasn’t happened yet. Still, it always niggles at the back of my mind. It amazes me how I get to work with such clever colleagues – I’m still waiting to be found out! My bravado covers up my wonder at being where I am today. My advice to those just starting their careers is to realize that you don’t need to be 100% perfect; no one else is. Just work hard, have courage, and be nice to people.
SR: With the increased growth of the Salesforce ecosystem, do you have any top tips for standing out during an interview?
GG: Knowledge, expertise, and credentials all count. If you have all three of these, then you will always stand out in an interview. If you don’t, then look at how you can work your way into that position. Gaining Salesforce certifications is open to all via fantastic training resources such as Trailhead. If you lack experience, consider taking on a voluntary role initially to build your CV. People hire for attitude, and if you prove to me that you are articulate, smart, intelligent, and have integrity alongside being willing to learn, improve and work hard, that will always stand out.
SR: You are a x12 Salesforce MVP. What do you think are the key things that have helped you achieve this? / What advice would you give to those aspiring to become an MVP?
GG: Contribution to the community comes in many packages. There is no hierarchy; it’s all valuable. User group leaders, serial question answers, Salesforce bloggers, mentors, RAD leaders – they all play their role.
If you want to be an MVP, think about whether you would do what you do without the title. Playing a role in the Salesforce Ecosystem must be powered by genuine enthusiasm for the platform and the community. Being an MVP is the cherry on top.
SR: Alongside being an MVP, you have also spoken at multiple Dreamforce events. What do you think are the main benefits of getting involved with the Salesforce community?
GG: There are so many benefits! You will get to do some incredible things that will stretch you professionally and terrify you personally. Salesforce might ask you to appear in a YouTube video talking about Apps, lead sessions at worldwide events, or deliver training. It will be career-enhancing, but far more than that, it will be rewarding and super fun.
There is no other professional community like the Salesforce one. It’s unique. The more you give, the more you get. Get involved!
SR: Finally, what are you most excited about seeing from Salesforce in 2021 and beyond?
GG: I am excited to see how the platform becomes even more integrated into our everyday working lives. So much more than a CRM, Salesforce is becoming the place that we all live, work, and communicate day to day.
If you’re a Salesforce professional and would like to join Geraldine in our Q&A series, please get in touch with us today!