In our most recent #SalesforceQA, we caught up with Nuno Fonseca, Salesforce Technical Architect and Co-Founder of Kompetenza. Nuno talks about the key skills he looks for when hiring Salesforce talent into his team and offers advice to others looking to become a Technical Architect.
Nuno also discusses how the Salesforce world has changed during his time in the ecosystem and offers advice on how you can stay up-to-date on all there is to know.
Salesforce Republic (SR): To start, could you tell us a bit about what inspired you to pursue a career in the ecosystem?
Nuno Fonseca (NF): I found Salesforce almost by mistake. In 2010, I was a Siebel consultant, and I was looking for something different; Oracle was also launching some kind of cloud CRM system, and that’s how I found Salesforce. The fact that everything you need to train, use, and develop on the platform is available to you and all the documentation is accessible online was what really piqued my interest with Salesforce and enabled me to make the change from Siebel into the Salesforce world.
SR: You have a wealth of experience in the CRM space, how has the Salesforce world changed during your time in it?
NF: Since 2010 the Salesforce world has evolved quite a lot. When I started, what is now Classic was quite new and everyone was very excited with this new look and feel. We also had Visualforce that were going to replace S-Controls back then. Now we have two different components for Lightning; everything is moving really, really, really fast. I also remember that when I started, there was only seven certifications in the entire ecosystem; including developer, admin, consultant and architect, and now we have over 30. It’s been quite a ride.
Not only has the Salesforce world changed over time but during the past year alone, from my experience, I would say that people’s mentality towards the cloud and Salesforce has also shifted. Being a Salesforce partner, I would actually say that the pandemic has made customers realise that they cannot keep working like they did before and that they need to make the move to cloud. They need to undergo a digital transformation. Prior to the pandemic there was a lot of concern, especially here is Portugal, around the cloud and whether data was secure but now there has been this mentality shift.
SR: What advice do you have for other Salesforce professionals wanting to ensure they can keep up-to-date in the ever-evolving ecosystem?
NF: This can be complicated. With three releases a year and all the new functionalities that Salesforce gives you for each release, it’s quite difficult to be on top of everything that is new. My suggestion is to focus on one path, get really good on that path, get all the knowledge that you can and get all the experience available. Then as a hobby, try a different path. This way, you can become someone really valuable in the ecosystem for that specific area, but also keep up with everything new that is coming around.
SR: Are there any particular skills you look for when hiring Salesforce talent into your team?
NF: There is a lack of Salesforce talent; the ecosystem requires more than what we currently have available. To tackle this at Kompetenza we are hiring people to train them. They might have zero experience on the platform, so the particular skills we look for are not technical.
In my opinion, non-technical skills are as, if not more, important than technical ability. Of course, everyone is different, but the technical aspects of the platform you can teach whereas soft skills are things you need to have.
We want to train our employees to become superstars in Salesforce and to become a superstar, you need to be a team player. That’s the main skill we require.
For Salesforce professionals looking to become Technical Architects, I also think that being persistent is an essential quality. You almost need to be stubborn and have this mindset that there is a solution to the problems you are faced with. This willingness to learn and not give up is very important.
SR: What is your top tip for others looking to become a Technical Architect?
NF: My first piece of advice is; learn by doing. There’s a lot of discussion around whether an Architect should be able to code or not. I think both perspectives are right. I think it’s very important for a Technical Architect to know how to do things. They don’t need to actually do it, they just need to know how to do it, because as a Technical Architect you’re going to be the person that everyone else will go to for an answer. Before becoming a Technical Architect you need to learn and know the ins and outs of the platform, I don’t believe that there is such a thing as a ‘Junior Architect’. Only learning and experience will allow you to become a Technical Architect.
SR: Following on from that, how would you describe the Technical Architect role?
NF: The Technical Architect in my opinion is, as mentioned previously, the point of contact for the team. People will look to you for guidance and leadership.
Alongside your team the way you approach your clients is also key. I’ve seen Salesforce professionals struggle to manage the expectations of their customers because they are constantly asking for things outside of your solution. The thing to remember is that as an Architect the client depends on you to allow them to have the better experience and the best solution possible. This involves understanding the customer role and guiding them to the best possible solution. My advice for this is to put yourself in their shoes.
SR: You have multiple Salesforce certifications, do you think these are essential for success in Salesforce?
NF: I see certifications as a way for me to achieve a goal. The certification helps you to understand how much of that topic you know, as the exam tells you where you did well and where you can improve. Besides your personal development on the platform, we do have some customers that request to work with people who have certifications; from that perspective certifications are a good way to validate your knowledge. However, experience is also key.
SR: What advice would you give those who are considering a Salesforce certification?
NF: Mix studying with experience. Don’t be afraid of getting your own development environment if you are not currently engaged in a project that uses the skills needed for the certification. This will give you the experience to be more confident for the certification. I remember when I did my first certification because I had played around with the platform I imagined going through the steps in my head and everything was much easier for me.
If you fail a certification don’t take it personally. Look at exactly where you need to improve and go and get experience in that area ready for your next attempt. It’s important not to give up because this is what make Salesforce certifications valuable; the tests are hard so that when you pass you have the confidence to say you know what you’re talking about.
SR: Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve received throughout your career?
NF: There’s always more to learn. It’s important to be open to learning from the people you work with and the projects that you do. Leave your comfort zone. Don’t be afraid to do things you’ve never done before, if you have the chance to work on a project that deals with something you have less experience in go for it; learn from it and become a better Architect.
If you’re a Salesforce professional and would like to join Nuno in our Q&A series, please get in touch with us today!