Transitioning Into the Salesforce Ecosystem

In part I, of this series we outlined the Salesforce economy, potential economic growth, and provided a breakdown of the roles within the Salesforce ecosystem. Whether you are changing careers, returning to the workforce, or a veteran who is looking for a new career opportunity, transitioning into the Salesforce ecosystem can be pretty overwhelming. Luckily, there are some incredible resources available to you, and some incredible people who are willing to provide valuable information from their experiences to help you transition seamlessly. As a reminder, the Salesforce Ohana is one of the friendliest groups of professionals, and the people who are part of it want you to succeed and are willing to share their experiences to help you along. 

Speaking of incredible people within the Salesforce Ohana, Mike Hoal, Director of Operations for Roycon and I had the privilege of meeting with Hector Perez, Merivis Founder and Director of CRM Strategy at Amazon Web Services, and Kate Perez, who is the Co-Founder and Executive Director at Merivis. They were gracious enough to share their experiences and industry expertise so we can share it with you. They are the founders of the non-profit, volunteer organization called Merivis. They help empower veterans and their spouses, by advancing their careers into the Salesforce Ecosystem. You can learn more about the Merivis on their website

About Hector Perez
Hector Perez currently works as a CRM Strategy & Platform Leader at AWS and is a United States Air Force veteran, who believes his military career has taught him the values of structure and community. After the military, he found his new home in IT and realized there was a growing Salesforce talent gap and that veterans could be trained and hired to fill that gap. This revelation is what inspired Merivis. In Latin, the word Merivis means Merit Force. Over the last 18 months, the organization has seen tremendous success and growth by tripling the number of classes offered from 2018 through 2019 and was featured as a keynote speaker at Dreamforce. 

About Kate Perez
Kate Perez grew up in a family with a history of military service and was raised to value “service to a greater good” as a way of life. As a senior marketing leader for companies like Dell and Cisco, she learned to harness the power of strategic thinking, planning, and creating a playbook for success. She combines that professional experience with over a decade of volunteering in leadership capacities to nonprofits in the Austin community. She took on the role of Merivis employee #1 with ambition and dedication. 

We conducted an open conversation about transitioning into the salesforce ecosystem and here’s what Kate and Hector had to say. 

What are the Key Roles in the Salesforce Enterprise Space?
There are certainly other critical roles, but these are the major roles. To see a list of other Salesforce roles, job functions, and technical skills, check out part 1 of this series. 

  • Admin/Super Admin: Individuals that configure and make sure the page layouts, profiles, and securities are configured properly. You don’t necessarily need to know how to code, but these roles are still critical. These roles get things done quicker. They tend to handle automation, business processes, reporting, and training. 
  • Developers: Tend to think differently and have experience as a developer. This role also handles automation, custom applications, and development. They’re familiar with coding languages such as JavaScript, APEX, SOQL/SOSL, and more.
  • Architect: The Architect brings it all together, the technical and solutions architect make sure the ship is not going to fall apart because a developer wanted to run a bad trigger. The architect looks at a 30,000 level and understands the integrations. They understand whether it can scale and is this the right solution. The architect is needed in a lot of projects and implementations. 

“Learning and education and approaching the platform from a position of knowledge and not arrogance and ignorance is very important because the cost of ownership and the ability to make that let’s say Porsche run right is important. You’re going to use it for many years, but when you customize it too much, you’re going to run into a lot of issues down the road.”
-Hector Perez, CRM Strategy & Platform Leader at AWS & Merivis Founder

What resources can help get you to the Architect Platform lead level?
Trailhead, you should start with trailhead and get your baseline certifications. Hector doesn’t recommend a fast pass approach and just get your dev cert. He recommends that you start with the basics of configuration. Salesforce has done a really good job of looking at the career paths and creating journeys within trailhead. If you want to become a salesforce architect you can’t just know Salesforce, you have to know API layers, integrations, other technologies, although not as critical, we don’t live in a world where Salesforce operates within a vacuum itself, they integrate with other applications, such as Marketing Cloud, and if you are an architect, you need to know what those systems do, how they talk to each other and what the security models are. You’ll need to be able to articulate to leadership and speak technically. Communication and business acumen are essential for this role, so having the background and understanding the complexities of the various integrations, layers, and other technologies is critical. 

What general advice do you have for veterans who want to make the career change?
There is nothing preventing anyone from being successful in the Salesforce ecosystem, it is a level playing field. If you have the determination and you are willing to put in the time and energy to learn something you can be as successful as someone who went to 6 years of business school.

First understand what you are willing to do, what is important to you, and what you are looking to do. Try to understand and have some introduction to the Salesforce ecosystem, a great start is the Salesforce Saturday, to get introduced to the ecosystem. Join the community, and leverage trailhead, it’s an amazing resource to get started. If you’re a veteran or a military spouse, you can leverage an organization like Merivis.

If you are dedicated to this new career, are willing to learn from others around you, and are ready to engage in the community you ultimately will be successful in this ecosystem.
-Kate Perez, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Merivis

Mike Hoal, Director of Operations at Roycon, a US Army veteran who has successfully made the transition from the Army to the Salesforce ecosystem, suggests participating in Salesforce forums and Salesforce Certification days. Salesforce Certification days are not always available but when they are, they offer free training in preparation for Salesforce certifications. These certifications range from Salesforce Administrator, App Builder, and more. Mike also suggests, if you aren’t sure what you want to do in the ecosystem, take a look at Veterati. There are many Salesforce professionals that actively give back their time in the Ohana. Finally, there is a newly created Salesforce Trailhead Mentorship program that helps you find and connect with the right mentor to help you transition into the ecosystem and land your dream job. 

What are some great resources to help someone get started in the Salesforce ecosystem?
There are so many great resources to help you get started in the Salesforce ecosystem, overall the ecosystem is really looking out for one another, it’s the ohana way, so don’t be afraid to get involved. These are just a few ways you can get started.

  • Trailhead: Trailhead is a fun way to learn. With engaging, bite-size content, Trailhead helps you gain new skills and hone existing ones. Trailhead is gamified, with assessments that demonstrate your skills, and badges and points that illustrate your progress. And Trailhead content is self-serve: Whenever you want to learn something new, Trailhead is at your fingertips.
  • Merivis: Merivis supports veterans preparing for their next mission through training, mentorship, and job readiness for Salesforce cloud technology careers.
  • Salesforce Saturdays: it’s another local community that helps lead you along your journey. Check for your local Salesforce Saturdays. 
  • Four Block: FourBlock equips high potential veterans to achieve great careers at our nation’s top companies. Achieve more after the military.
  • Bootcamps for developers
  • Women in Tech: It’s a great organization for women interested in diving deeper into the developer side
  • Twitter: Engage with people within the ecosystem, it helps to keep the positive energy going as well as learn about more learning opportunities and potential job opportunities.
  • Deloitte Pathfinder: Deloitte will provide participants with soft skills training, including modules in the organization, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. 
  • RAD Women Code: The primary goal of Radical Apex Developers (RAD) Women is to provide a supportive and collaborative environment for advanced women Salesforce admins to build upon their existing click-based administration skills and learn to program on the platform.
  • PepUp Tech: PepUp Tech gives motivated, underserved students the access, skills, mentors, and confidence needed to begin careers in tech and help diversify the industry.
  • Trailhead Military Mentorship Program: Trailhead Military is a self-paced training program that focuses on credentials and certifications for critical Salesforce roles like admin or developer. This program is available to all active-duty personnel, reserve, guard, veterans, and military spouses. 

What advice would you give someone who is looking to get started in the Salesforce ecosystem?
Don’t Be Afraid. Don’t doubt yourself, maximize the opportunities presented to you, and don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get plugged into a variety of different communities, organizations, and coaches, and classes. You’ll find the ecosystem is very friendly and the people in it are willing to help. 

“Don’t be afraid to lean in. Surround yourself with people who want to lift you up and celebrate your successes. That feeds your determination and energy and keeps the momentum going in your career.”
-Kate Perez, Co-Founder & Executive Director at Merivis

For all of our veterans looking to transition into the ecosystem, you hire for character and you train for skill. Sheldon Simmons, Salesforce Consultant, and Navy Veteran said at Dreamforce 2019 said ‘I’ve been to war. A process builder and workflow is not going to rattle me.’ Veterans have a can-do attitude and can accomplish anything. Veterans take initiative, problem-solve, and lift each other up, and even though they don’t know Salesforce, they bring an incredible amount of character, resilience, teamwork, loyalty, and things we sadly don’t see a lot of in the workforce today. A lot of veterans are really looking to put down roots. All of these things make them desirable candidates. So don’t be afraid to ask for help or reach out to others for advice.

How do you overcome the challenge of the perceived experience gap?
Look for the opportunity to get real-world experience, either by completing the superbadges or shadowing someone who is working in the ecosystem. Find a mentor in any capacity. Get more exposure for a day in a life. You can do work for non-profits like Merivis by taking business requests and creating a solution with the oversight of volunteers.

Doing non-profit work is great, but do it with someone who knows what they’re doing. Take on a small project. Don’t boil the ocean. It can be pretty overwhelming trying to learn so many things at a time, so take on small projects to make sure that you gain a full understanding before moving onto the next.

The alliances that trailhead military have made with companies like Roycon, allow veterans and others to transition into the ecosystem to gain hands-on experience. Companies like Amazon will guarantee an interview with veterans, which allows you to get your foot in the door. It gives individuals more of an opportunity, so leverage it. 

This is something that Mike Hoal faced, and he was new to the ecosystem and didn’t have enough experience.

“One thing I ran into when I was new to the Salesforce ecosystem was even though I had plenty of other tech certs (PMP, Lean Six, Microsoft certs, etc), it didn’t seem to matter when I was interviewing because I couldn’t practically apply the material I had learned in Trailhead. I think having done more superbadges, or having taken advantage of more mentorship opportunities would have helped me. Networking in the ecosystem is huge, and everyone in the Ohana is very willing to help, but you have to ask! Don’t be shy! Many of the same corporate values that Salesforce lives on are found in their partners as well, and many people will volunteer their time to help you!”
-Mike Hoal, Director of Operations at Roycon

Where is Merivis headed in the future
Merivis successfully tripled the number of cohorts from 2018 to 2019 and are poised for more growth and expansion in 2020. Especially with the onset of COVID-19 and the rising unemployment rate, Merivis has moved all its programs to a virtual environment. Not only are they expanding the number of training cohorts but also the virtual professional development resources to get more veterans and military spouses trained up for Salesforce careers. Expect to see some virtual events and volunteer opportunities for both their graduates and the Salesforce professionals that make up the Merivis community. These new programs will allow them to serve and support even more individuals in their career transition and ensure they are set up for success. If you want to donate, sponsor or volunteer for their programs visit the Merivis website to learn more about how to get involved.

About Merivis
Merivis empowers veterans and their spouses taking the initiative to begin and advance their careers in cloud computing. We are a nonprofit, volunteer-driven VSO that brings the best coaches and partners together to serve our community with a best-in-class curriculum and dedicated family mentality.

Jennifer Contino

Jennifer Contino

Director of Marketing

Jen, our director of marketing comes to us with over a decade of marketing experience and nearly a decade within the Salesforce ecosystem. She’s known for her work with Pardot, creativity within the digital marketing space, and passion for marketing and the power of Pardot and Salesforce together.

About Roycon
We’re an Austin-based Salesforce Consulting Partner, with a passion and belief that the Salesforce platform’s capabilities can help businesses run more efficiently and effectively. Whether you are just getting started with Salesforce or looking to realize its full potential, Roycon specializes in Salesforce Implementations, Salesforce Ongoing Support, and Salesforce Integrations, and Development. We’re the certified partner to guide the way to increase Salesforce Adoption, make strategic decisions, and build your Salesforce Roadmap for success.