Welcome to APAC Trailblazers, a series highlighting people’s paths to great software and admin development careers (sometimes from the most unexpected origins). These posts shine a spotlight on the many 1,000s of stories out there within our Salesforce community that we hope will also inspire you to take your own Salesforce career to new heights.
Megan: Thank you for talking with me Atul. Can you tell me a little bit about how you started working in IT?
Accenture provided a lot of internal training and certification opportunities. I feel very lucky as I was able to earn my Admin, Advanced Developer, Developer and Sales and Service Consultant certifications during those early years.
Megan: How did you first get involved in the Success Community?
Atul: About two years ago I felt like it was time for a new adventure. I quit my job in September and decided to take a well-earned vacation. I wanted to take a couple of months off and this turned out to be significant in changing the direction of my career.
I had been active on the Salesforce Success Community throughout my career but in more recent times I hadn’t been as involved. Ultimately, I ended up spending a lot of time during my vacation answering questions on the Success Community. I used my newfound free time to quickly rise up to the first level on the Success Community.
Since then I have maintained my place in the first 15 on the most active members. By January, I started to take up freelance work to help pay the bills and I did this for three to four months.
I became interested in the meetup groups that were running and reached out to the Developer group leader of New Delhi, but discovered that the group had been dormant for two years. Ultimately people wanted the group but it needed someone with a passion for leading it and giving back to the community, so I decided to resurrect the group.
Megan: Where did your involvement go from there?
Atul: We started meeting every four to six weeks but I felt the content was missing something.
I became very active on Twitter and saw Stephanie Herrera, a Salesforce MVP, was hosting Salesforce Saturday’s. I connected with her to learn more about this and she told me it involved a group of people gathering on Saturdays in a coffee shop in Austin for discussions and to share advice.
I loved the idea and decided to start it in Delhi. It began online as I was unsure about using coffee shops and whether that would work in India. We had a few initial sessions with at least 20-25 people joining consistently. What was interesting was that not a lot of people knew about the Salesforce Community as in Delhi a lot of developers were just focused on a single project. I’ve really seen a change in the past year with more and more people getting involved.
Megan: How have the sessions developed since those initial days?
Atul: I actually had someone reach out to me offering a free space for running the sessions each week and we grew the numbers attending to about 30-35 per meeting.
When we started our membership was at about 240 and now there are over 900 people in the New Delhi Developer Community. I honestly feel it’s now one of the most engaged communities and it’s great to see so many people connecting with each other and creating friendships above and beyond Salesforce. I’m really proud that this is where I’ve managed to grow it to. I consider these people my family and it’s been amazing to help grow the Salesforce Ohana spirit.
Megan: What are some of the highlights in the community over the last year?
As the community grew we created a schedule, one Saturday would be a Knowledge Saturday where we’d discuss new technologies and problem solve and the other Saturdays became about Trailhead which we called #racefortrailhead.
In our first trailhead session we completed 70 badges over about four hours. Our members loved this and what’s fascinating is there is now a few of these Saturday sessions popping up in at least three other locations in India. It’s so exciting to think we were behind this initiative.
We don’t have a lot of Admins in India, 99% are developers, so they want to develop their technical knowledge. They need to know Lightning and these Saturday sessions have really helped everyone come up to speed. I’m truly inspired by the Ohana culture.
Megan: What are some of your greatest personal accomplishments in your Salesforce career?
Atul: I’d have to say passing my Advanced Developer Certification was a very proud moment.
I also helped run the first #trailheadathon. This is where we came together for a whole Saturday with the objective of earning Trailhead badges while having fun. We worked together to complete things like Superbadges that require a bit more time. We had 60+ participants from all across India - Pune, Chandigarh, Bangalore, Noida, Gurgaon, Delhi and Jaipur and people also participated online. We were lucky enough to have Chris Duarte do a live introduction from San Francisco to help us kickoff the day in true Trailhead style.
Last February I was encouraged to register my own company name and start my own consultancy. It was just me in the beginning but business is taking off and I’m starting to grow my team. It was never my plan but now I’m a startup focussing only on Salesforce engagements.
Megan: What advice would you give to your fellow Trailblazers to help them take the next steps in their Salesforce careers?
Atul: I strongly believe in getting yourself out there. Lots of people do their job and stay in their little box with their heads down. You won’t get recommendations if you don’t know anyone.
Always keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and don’t underestimate the power of Twitter when it comes to networking. If you get more visibility then you will get more opportunities.
Also, write down any knowledge you have and want to share. You don’t have to be a User Group leader. Start a webinar, a blog, anything! Start giving back in any way you feel you can like I did with answers on the community. Have a go and put yourself out there.
Megan: So what’s next for you?
Atul: We are looking at starting Marketing Cloud Saturday’s now as well and I’m hoping to run another #trailheadathon soon as well. Stay tuned!
Learn more about what it takes to be a great Manager by completing the Manage the Salesforce way trail in Trailhead today.