Welcome to APAC Trailblazers, a series highlighting individuals who are blazing trails to great platform and career development within our #SalesforceOhana. These blogs shine a spotlight on the 1,000s of stories in our Salesforce community that, we hope, will inspire you to take your own Salesforce career to new heights.

Profile: Mark Tossell, CRM Project Manager, Fusion Group

Megan: Thank you so much for talking to me today, Mark. I originally came across your story on the Salesforce Success Community. For those that didn’t see that post, can you share a little bit about yourself and your Salesforce journey to date?

Mark: I guess it all started when I graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and became a Mechanical Project Engineer for Proctor and Gamble. After two years, I made quite a drastic career shift and moved to the US where I studied for ministry and became a Baptist pastor, which is what I have done for the past 20 years.

I’ve always loved technology, though. Even when I was training for ministry, I worked for an engineering consultancy in tandem, to help set up a database for them.

The other side to my story is that I’ve struggled with depression since I was a teenager. I’ve actually published a book on my story called “Hope, Help and Healing for the Depressed”. This led to an opportunity to do a six week book tour in the United States in February this year where I visited 16 churches in seven states from California to Maine.

I resigned from the church when I came back, largely due to health reasons. Despite having an engineering degree, I had been out of the industry for 20 years so it was difficult to find a role, and my wife is a full time carer for our son who has high functioning autism or Asperger's.

“Apart from a two-minute demo of Salesforce, I hadn’t seen anything before.”

We used the last of our money for our rent payment and I didn’t know what I was going to do from there. A friend of mine owns a business, Fusion Group, and he called to ask if I’d consider working with them to help implement a CRM. I said ok and, after hanging up, promptly went and searched for what “CRM” stood for!

I decided to take on the challenge. I had three weeks to prepare before I started work. Apart from a two-minute demo of Salesforce, I hadn’t seen anything before. I started on YouTube watching old Dreamforce sessions for about 50 hours in the first week. Then I stumbled across my old friend Trailhead, which has been a godsend.

Megan: So how was your first week back in corporate life?

Mark: I remember when we got our licences, it took me a few hours to download the financial services managed package to the system. I created my first new object and app in the first week and I was so scared. The project was pretty complex and we needed to integrate a number of other systems so I had to start learning about APIs and conversing with Mulesoft, Jitterbit, and Informatica. I don’t “do” code so it needed to be a visual interface.

"I really like process builder it just fits the way my brain works."

Megan: I saw on the Success Community that you just recently built your first process builder process, how did that go?

Mark: Yes, I really like process builder it just fits the way my brain works.  

What’s really interesting is most people come to work thinking ‘what am I going to do today?’, I come to work now thinking ‘how am I going to do what I have to do today?’.

Megan: You have been really prominent in the Success Community since starting your Salesforce Journey. What makes that forum so compelling for you?

Mark: I was honestly surprised by the general camaraderie and community spirit and I’m a true believer in that if you receive you should give something back. It took time to find all the documents and tools I used in my training and I thought there are probably people out there that could use this content too so I decided to share it with the community.

Even the other day I implemented an idea that Steve Molis, MVP user on the Success Community platform, posted. I had a bit of a problem so I asked a question and Steve jumped in to answer it and I thought to myself, ‘How cool is that?’ There are lots of people out there like me that have been thrown in the deep end and so by sharing my story I hope it might encourage someone else.

I really like quotes and one from John Maxwell is; “Encouragement is oxygen for the soul”, which I feel really resonates with the Salesforce Community. Not just the Salesforce culture of the company itself, which prioritises community values and a sense of family belonging, or as Salesforce calls it “ohana”, but also that of the ecosystem that surrounds it.

Megan: I know it’s only been a few months but what are some of your greatest accomplishments in your Salesforce career so far?

Mark: Financial Services Cloud is designed to work in Lightning (Salesforce set of interfaces optimised for speed and performance) so we are Lightning first. I find it interesting working with the Lightning App Builder and customising pages. And it’s so funny to hear myself talking like this! I texted a friend in I.T. the other day and said “I’ve installed Informatica, I’ve got the agent running in the background, I’ve created some API connectors and I’ve performed my first successful integration with a flat file”. I started laughing then because I thought to myself, if someone said all that to me three months ago I would have said ‘What?’.

The other day I answered my first question on the Success Community, they did what I suggested and it worked! I was so excited and it felt nice to be giving something back.

Megan: What advice would you give to fellow Trailblazers to help them take their next steps in their Salesforce careers?   

Mark: Leverage the Community and get engaged. I wrote a post on the Success Community about my story and the next day I found all these amazing people commenting on my post saying; “Keep going”, “Kudos”, “You can do it”. It’s very unusual and so touching.

Look at the Idea Exchange where you can post ideas and vote on others’ suggestions to have a say on the Salesforce roadmap. How clever is that?

Don’t be afraid to have a go at something you can’t do. When you fail you’ve just found

another way it can’t be done. I’d also recommend investing time in research. In preparation for this role I read blogs, I checked out different industry newsfeeds and I listened to the ButtonClick Admin Podcast. I’m even discussing an opportunity to feature on the podcast after Dreamforce, so keep an eye out for that.

Megan: So, what’s next for you?

Mark: I certainly hope to remain in the Salesforce ecosystem. I’m really enjoying it and I attended a Circle of Success the other day in the city which was great.

I’m also looking into getting my first certification and our final go live was due to happen in mid October, but I’m going to suggest we move it to November so we can leverage some of the great new features in the Winter Release

Megan: Thank you for talking with me today Mark. You truly embody Ohana and we are lucky to have you as a new member in our community. I look forward to seeing what future trailblazing awaits.

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