At Salesforce, Nichola Palmer works with customers to bring their stories of innovation and transformation to life. In this blog series featuring Trailblazers, Nichola introduces Chloe Catherine Chua, CRM & Data Insights, Outreach & Partnerships at NVPC. Chloe has spearheaded the use of Salesforce with no prior IT experience, and is proving people with mental health challenges can contribute immense value to supportive organisations.
Chloe Catherine Chua is an inspirational change-maker. Professionally, she has spearheaded the use of Salesforce at Singapore’s National Volunteer & Philanthropy Centre (NVPC) with no prior IT experience. Personally, she is using her journey with anxiety and depression to inspire change in how mental health is viewed in Singapore’s fast-paced professional world.
Chloe’s mission is to make peoples’ lives easier — both at work and in the mental health space. She joined NVPC from the logistics industry and began work with the nonprofit organisation in an administrative role. Despite having no prior IT experience, it wasn’t long before Chloe started thinking about how to use technology to make positive change.
“When I started at NVPC, we had Salesforce but it wasn’t being used well,” she says. “Salesforce is such a powerful tool, but if you don’t know how to use it, you’re not going to get the value it can deliver. When we started testing Salesforce after I came in, we saw how it could make our lives so much easier.”
Building a Salesforce ecosystem
Chloe took the development lead. She self-learned Salesforce via YouTube videos and articles on the Salesforce website. Then she began to build an organisation-wide Salesforce ecosystem, with teams that automated workflows and achieved significant efficiency improvements and productivity gains across departments.
From consolidating volunteer and donor data into a centralised single source of truth, to creating an interactive events calendar in Tableau, Chloe proved herself to be a one-person digital transformation change-maker.
The results she has achieved are impressive. NVPC now has a 360-degree view of stakeholder interactions and data-based insights into program performance. This has led to greater efficiency across teams and improved external communications. It has also relieved a lot of the burden from administration on NVPC employees. And migrating the events calendar to Tableau has improved event scheduling and resource allocation.
Making lives easier
These would be impressive achievements for any experienced IT head. But the fact Chloe has added this much value to the organisation without prior IT experience makes her contribution even more remarkable.
“I’m thankful that Salesforce doesn’t require heavy coding,” she says. “It helps me think a lot more in terms of process and what the different possibilities are, rather than having to focus on how to code it. Whatever ideas I have, Salesforce can definitely do it. It’s just a matter of knowing the Salesforce functions.
“I’m also grateful that NVPC trusted me enough to take over Salesforce and revamp the whole system with zero IT knowledge,” she says. “Once I understood what NVPC was trying to achieve, I could apply what I had learned about Salesforce and build up the automation step-by-step from there.
“I would like to make things easier for everyone, so when people tell me I’m making their lives so much easier, that’s a huge achievement for me.
Chloe’s experience with Salesforce has opened up her love of data analytics and systems design. Systems design has helped her think outside the box and approach problems from multiple angles. Data analytics empowers her to provide leadership teams with accurate and concise reporting on organisational performance.
“It excites me to see how I can challenge myself and come up with creative solutions to solve different issues. These skills have given me the focus and direction to further my career development,” she says.
Support is a two-way street
Chloe is clearly a rising star in the Salesforce community. She has the talent — and now experience — to continue to create positive organisational change. However, her immense potential has not always been recognised.
“I suffer from anxiety and depression, and my last employer actually let me go,” she says. “But NVPC understands that support is a two-way street. They offer counselling, and if I’m having a difficult period, I can say I need some time to myself and they are very supportive of that. It’s a wonderful thing when employers don’t question you, they trust you.”
NVPC’s trust in Chloe has certainly paid off for the organisation. But it’s a concept she says many employers still struggle with.
“There’s definitely a long way to go in Singapore,” she says. “There is a stigma that people with mental health challenges can’t work efficiently and can’t help the organisation — that they are just a burden. But we are definitely not.”
“It’s difficult to find the right company and the right people to support you, but it’s good to believe that you will find them. So don’t give up. It took me a long time to find an employer that supports me personally, but now, with the right support, I have finally found myself again. And I’m curious and optimistic about what the future holds.”