Graduate to Trailblazer in 2 years: Q&A with Alex Crossan

Alex Crossan only graduated in 2014, but is already blazing a trail of customer success at Davanti Consulting in New Zealand. Alex reveals how he went from graduate to Senior Technical Consultant in just over two years and why Trailhead has been instrumental in his career trajectory.

What inspired you to forge a career in the technology sector?

I had an interest in electronics and robotics, so originally began an engineering degree. But as I started to do more computer programming courses, which I quite enjoyed, I realised there was a growing skills shortage for data scientists and software developers, so it seemed like a good idea to pursue a career in this field instead. So I made the jump to a Bachelor of Computer Science from Massey University.

Upon graduating, I moved to Wellington, because it’s considered the technology capital of New Zealand – we like to think of it as a mini San Francisco, with its thriving startup culture. I knew there was going to be more career opportunity here.

Consulting wasn’t a career path I ever gave much thought to. But, when I arrived in Wellington, I heard Davanti – a technology consultancy that specialises in customer engagement, cloud architecture, Salesforce and user experience design – were looking for people with both technical and interpersonal skills. Long story short, I started here as a graduate in April 2015.

And, it turns out, I love consulting. I love that you get to do all the nerdy technical stuff, but can also interact with people – it’s a good balance.

Tell us about your role at Davanti Consulting

A year after starting with Davanti Consulting as a graduate, I was promoted to a senior position. I’m now responsible for solution architecture, technical design and some project management tasks. The role also has some people management responsibilities, such as onboarding and upskilling the team, with a particular focus on developing skills in Javascript, Salesforce and Lightning Experience.

So, when did you first come across Salesforce and Trailhead?

Before Davanti, I hadn’t worked on Salesforce – in fact, I hadn’t even heard of Salesforce – so I had to learn, fast. Trailhead was immensely valuable in this process, teaching me the practicalities of CRM that you don’t get taught at uni. I can’t imagine a world without Trailhead!

It was when I took on a senior role that I started looking at Trailhead differently, seeing how it could be used to upskill the team. I started creating custom pathways of Trailhead that would help individuals upskill quickly and achieve their longer-term career goals. This was particularly useful for graduates, people from non-technical or non-Salesforce backgrounds, or people starting a new project and needed a refresher on a particular product. It gave them an extra depth of knowledge to have informed conversations with clients. Then Trailmix came out, and made this process much easier and faster!

We now also create small Trailmixes for clients, tailoring them quite specifically to the work we’re doing with them. This enables the client to learn how to do simple tasks themselves, like creating reports and dashboards, and we can help with the more complex implementations. We find this approach improves engagement, because we’re not just telling our clients how powerful the technology is and what it can do for them, we’re showing them.

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

People often ask me how I find the time to have earned 220 Trailhead badges. It’s a matter of setting goals, utilising any spare time and chipping away at it, doing one or two badges a week.

I find picking ones relevant to the projects I'm on is hugely beneficial. This year, I’ve been working a lot on Community Cloud and Service Cloud implementations, so I jump at the chance to do a related badge. It just gives you that extra confidence and credibility when talking to the client.

What’s your favourite badge?

That's a hard one, but I quite liked the Apex Superbadge, which I got first ascent on. That was a big goal I’d set for myself, so I spent a lot of time making sure it was perfect before I clicked the 'challenge' button.

What’s next for you?

I’m keen to get involved in new technology and real innovation with things like IoT. In Australia and New Zealand, we get to work on some exciting technology projects, but I don't think they’re to the extent of what we’re seeing come out of America and Europe – people there are doing some really amazing work.

Are you blazing your own trail yet? Start today and elevate your learning with Trailhead.

Megan Petersen is our Senior Manager Trailhead Marketing. Read more from Megan.