Talent Hub is proud to introduce the sixteenth episode of the Talent Hub TV series in podcast format live from Salesforce Bootcamp! Here, Talent Hub Founder, Ben Duncombe meets respected Salesforce professionals and thought leaders to learn more about their fascinating stories and industry insights.
This week-long Salesforce extravaganza of expert-led guidance and multiple certification exam opportunities is the first of it’s kind in Australia. We took the chance to sit down with this month’s guest, Salesforce MVP, Anna Loughnan on the last day of the week in the Gold Coast to talk about her highlights, and the exciting work that she’s doing in her home town of Wellington in New Zealand.
Anna shares her achievements from the week at Bootcamp, tells us more about the Community groups that she runs, how she first became a part of the Salesforce space, and what excites her about what’s next!
Listen here, or if you prefer to read, the entire transcript is below:
Ben: Welcome to Episode 16 of Talent Hub TV, we’re here with Anna Loughnan from Wellington in New Zealand, it’s a great opportunity to catch up with Anna at Bootcamp in Queensland this week, so we’ve spent some time together here, so thank you for coming on the show.
Anna: No worries.
Ben: Have you had a good week?
Anna: It’s been an awesome week.
Ben: Yeah, it’s been really, really good, hey?
Anna: Really full on. But very rewarding.
Ben: Yes, definitely. So, lots of people will know who you are, lots of our followers will have heard of you before, but for anyone that hasn’t, who are you, what’s your story, from before Salesforce I guess?
Anna: Sure, so I’m based in Wellington in New Zealand as you said, and so I’ve been around in the Salesforce ecosystem now for about 12 years, so it’s quite a long time, so it’s almost hard to remember what life was like before then, but I did have a bit of a background in the tech industry, so way back, I had quite a long career break because I was at home with my children so I was not quite 100% out of the workforce, but I wasn’t really heavily you know, working. I was at home for about 12 years, and then prior to that I’d actually been, well they didn’t even call it a Developer in those days, it was a Programmer, so I do actually have a background in the sort of the tech side of it.
Ben: What were you programming?
Anna: It’s pretty old language, but you know, old and solid.
Ben: Yes, for sure.
Anna: I’m hoping that that is going to be a good background when I go on to do some of the more development side of the Salesforce certs.
Ben: Yes, sure, so how did you, you took some time out and found your way into the Salesforce ecosystem, when you, that was coming in fresh? You hadn’t at that stage, done any Salesforce work when you came back into the full-time role?
Anna: Yes, that’s correct. I got, somebody needed an extra resource on an implementation transformation project and it was somebody I had connections with and so she sort of, sold me, and convinced them to take a chance on me, and so, Salesforce was the, one of the bigger platforms that was being implemented, so they started it off with an in-house trainer, a Salesforce Admin trainer, and so they were just throwing people at it because they’d paid for it anyway. So that was my foot in the door basically. Ok, and then how many years now in the Salesforce space? About 12.
Ben: 12 years, and what kind of roles have you played over that period of time?
Anna: That’s really interesting, whether you talk about roles or whether you talk about job titles, and I know that you blog about this as well right. I do, yes. So, most recently I’ve been working effectively as a solo Admin, in the role that I was in before now, was a solo Admin for quite a number of years, and effectively if you’re a solo Admin you’re not “just” an Admin, and different companies call it different things. Yes. Effectively I was managing the entire CRM, you know, so, when you’re a sole resource you need to know about everything, and in my current role, I moved to a new company just over a year ago, and so my title now is Customer Success Manager, and so it’s a small tech company, but I work with a number of companies that we’re affiliated with through a larger corporation, and so I’m providing a lot of advice about Salesforce, so that’s really pulling on all the knowledge that I’ve built up over the years. Actually, the job description was acquired from the Salesforce description of a Customer Success Manager as well, so I’m certainly encouraged to stay on top of everything that’s happening in the Salesforce world, including new features, and you know, the new releases and so on and so forth. Sure, so you’ve always, you’ve been quite functional up until this point? Yes, pretty much, what has been interesting though is being on the Bootcamp this week, I’ve been on the Application Architect track and so there’s all this talk going on in there and I’m like, “I’m doing all of that”, you know I’m actually involved in a lot of decisions that we’re talking about, like you know, I’ve really, I’ve been functioning as an Application Architect.
Ben: Sure, so it’s been an eye-opener?
Anna: It has, I guess it’s validated everything that I’ve been doing.
Ben: Sure, and that you mentioned about the blogs that I’ve written in the past, I do think that the job title is an aspect but really it’s going a level deeper, and well, what am I doing day to day, what actually makes up that job title, that’s the important thing, so, yeah I guess your role has been Architecture and things like that as well, not just Admin or Customer Success. You’re a big fan of Trailhead, I know, I think you’re a four-time Ranger now.
Anna: That’s right, yes.
Ben: So what keeps you motivated just to keep smashing through those badges and staying on top of that?
Anna: There’s a couple of things, what I’ve found really useful to keep going is setting goals publically. Twitter is quite a good place for that, and so for example, I’d decided that last year I wanted to get up to 300 before Dreamforce and so I sort of announced that publically and then once you’ve said something, it’s kind of like your stake in the ground, and so you work towards that, so that’s really helped. Something else that I’ve found really in fact, life-changing that happened this year, was a campaign by Ladies Be Architects, that I’m sure you’ve heard about. They did 100 Days of Trailhead which started on the 1st of January, so for me that turned everything on it’s head, because it was no longer about a badge a day, it was about time every day, so even though I had 300 Trailhead badges I’d never done any Superbadges because I’m like, well they take too long, you know, I could do 5, and get 5 badges, rather than one Superbadge, so having that turned on it’s head and just allowing time to work on Trailhead every day, that also worked out really well for me because I tackled a lot of the harder stuff that I knew was going to take longer, and really challenged and pushed myself. And so I actually ended up getting two certifications as well during that period because I just got so fired up and motivated.
Ben: Yes, I must admit, even though we’ve been running Trailhead Tuesday in Sydney for a long time now, I get so involved in talking to people at the events that I hadn’t put enough time aside to do some badges and in the build up to this event I’ve done some badges, and it’s just changed the way I think about Salesforce and my ability to learn has been amplified because of actually being hands-on, rather than just trying to store it all up, so yes, I can’t speak highly enough of the platform.
Anna: Yes, and so, as I think you know, I also run a Trailhead Tuesday event monthly, and you know, I don’t get to do any badges either because I’m facilitating other people in doing their badges and so I’ve actually given up trying now.
Ben: Yes, I like, I’ve been using the line ‘building the ANZ Salesforce market one Trailhead Tuesday at a time’, so I think it’s great that you’re doing that, and the guys in Brisbane as well, and it’s really exciting to be involved. So New Zealand, what can you tell us about the market there, what’s the kind of challenges that companies are facing when they’re going down the Salesforce route?
Anna: Particularly I can specifically speak to Wellington, and so Wellington is a very government town, and government has been slower to adopt Salesforce, and so for a long time, I felt like I was alone in the wilderness in Wellington and that’s why I got so involved with the online community and everything else. These days, government have embraced it and so the demand is exploding, and I’m sure you’re across that, everywhere in the ANZ region the demand seems to be increasing. So unless people are actually bringing people in from offshore, then they’re actually, all they’re doing is poaching from eachother. I’m trying to encourage companies to start scaffolding their own staff and building up their own staff rather than just trying to bring in somebody who’s already got the Salesforce side of things, that doesn’t have their own business on it.
Ben: Yes, I think Trailhead Tuesday is a great platform for that. We’ve seen as well, some people that have come to Trailhead Tuesday with no experience what so ever, have now gone on and secured roles, either through our network or through networks that they’ve built at the events, and so I’m sure you’re pushing that as well.
Anna: Yes, I am absolutely.
Ben: So you mentioned, we’ve discussed Trailhead Tuesday, what other groups are you involved in?
Anna: So, I also run the Wellington Trailblazer Community Group, it’s a general group, Wellington is a fairly small city, so we don’t have a huge number of the same Trailblazer Community Groups as the larger cities do, so we have a general group and we have a Developer group, and we work in fairly closely with them, so I’ve been involved in that now probably for about three years or so, and put a lot of effort into building that up and we get awesome attendants these days. There’s wonderful support from the Trailblazer Community group team over in the States and also the other ANZ leaders are very supportive as well, so we interact a lot and we share a lot of content with eachother and so that we have meetings that are going to work for our local community.
Ben: Sure, and you’re a Lightning Champion, so what can you tell us about that?
Anna: Sure, so that’s a programme that Salesforce has been running, I think it started last year. So, most people who are involved with the Salesforce platform will be aware, that there’s a new UI, which is like an experience. And Salesforce is trying to accelerate the adoption of the Lightning experience platform across all customers. They’re making some changes a bit later this year which means that some people will not have the ability to switch back into Classic, so really it was a programme that you had to apply for, you had to have special Superbadges that you’d done, you had to sort of prove what you’d done in the Community and how you might be a little bit of an expert in that area, and so it’s a way for me to reach out to the Community and help them in their Lightning migration journey.
Ben: Okay, and that leads me on nicely to the next question, because you do give a lot back to the Community, and out of that, you’ve become an MVP. So what has that meant for you?
Anna: Not much really, so there’s only one other MVP in New Zealand and it’s sort of a personal recognition but most of the people in the New Zealand Salesforce ecosystem have no idea what it is, or what it means.
Ben: Okay, sure.
Anna: So really the people I work with aren’t even aware that I’ve been awarded MVP status. Where it is more significant is sort of at Salesforce gatherings, so for example, like here at Bootcamp, you know, I can connect with the other MVP’s that are here and you get a little bit of special treatment if you go to Dreamforce, and things like that. But it’s, I guess it’s a recognition of what you have put back into the Community.
Ben: Yes, and it definitely doesn’t go unnoticed to the Community that we speak to, I think everyone really values the work that MVP’s do, and you’re definitely well deserving of that title. So Bootcamp, two certifications?
Ben: What’s been the highlight? Other than getting the certs, which is a massive achievement as well, so congrats, but what’s been the highlight?
Anna: Well, I think for me, the highlight, was going into class on the Monday and hearing, we had a wonderful presenter called Chuck Liddell, and he was fantastic, and I was fully expecting everything to be completely over my head, I mean, way back, yes I had that technical background, but I was expecting to be struggling for the entire week and what he was saying, it’s like, “oh, yes I agree with that, I am doing that, you know, yes”. And so it validated I was doing anyway. It was awesome to see, I reckon there were about 40% women, females on the Application Architect track, so that was awesome. So, I’m quite used to being a lone female, sort of in tech, but that was just really, really encouraging.
Ben: Sure, okay, great. Yeah, I mean for me it’s been an amazing event, I think just to connect with people like yourself and to catch up and to get to know people more that I’d spoken to and share some time with people and discuss their Salesforce journeys, and get certified, which has been a highlight. So, what’s next for you, what are you looking forward over the coming months in the Salesforce ecosystem?
Anna: Sure, well I’ve got a strong commitment to carry on in the local Community, we’re pretty much planning monthly Community Group meetings, we’ve got our monthly Trailhead Tuesday. Me personally, I had taken a bit of a break after the 100 Days of Trailhead. I think I might take a wee break again after another two certifications, but I’m now really determined to get my Application Architect certification. So I’ve got two more certificates that I need to work on to do that, so I will take the rest of the year and get those.
Ben: Are you going to be publically announcing the dates?
Anna: Maybe I should, as I said, that’s the answer.
Ben: Yes. And I’m sure there will be a few more Trailhead badges in there as well.
Ben: Well I’ve really enjoyed getting to know you more this week and thank you so much for coming on the show as a guest. Best of luck with the upcoming certs and yes, we look forward to seeing those results on LinkedIn.
Anna: Thank you.
Ben: Thank you very much.
Thank you for listening, and stay tuned for Episode 17, coming soon. Make sure you’re following Anna on LinkedIn and Twitter for updates and visit the Wellington Trailblazer Community and the Trailhead Tuesday Wellington pages to find out more.
Talent Hub is a hive of activity at the moment and so visit our Salesforce jobs page for up to date opportunities. If you’d like to become involved in Talent Hub TV as a guest, we’d love to hear from you.