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Barry Dietrich, AVP Enterprise Sales, shares his perspective on what drives success at Salesforce. It starts with living our values every single day and looking beyond your job description to find what you're passionate about.
 

How did you get into the tech industry?

 

I remember my first interaction with a PC that sparked my passion — my friend had an Apple computer with a mouse and pictures, and it was very basic to use. It was the late 80s in South Africa, and the transformation from mainframe to PC was just beginning. Although at the time, Apple was not accepted in mainstream office automation, the potential was immense. I managed to get a job selling replica IBM PCs and was given a doss manual and a PC.

It was like Greek, but I found my way through it and enjoyed it immensely. I then moved on to set up basic PCs and started trying to automate them. We would write script menus and sell them to Executive Assistants — it was really good fun. Suddenly, anyone who wasn't a typist could create a word document pretty easily. This was really the beginning of automation. I could see the potential of word processing and spreadsheets and how they were being used in the office by anyone who could write or type. I loved the tech industry from the start, and have never looked back.
 

You relocated to Australia in 2003. Tell us more about this decision and time in your life.

 

I grew up in South Africa, in a small surfing town on the coast called Durban. I was very lucky in my career in South Africa and had done well for myself running the health business for an IT organisation. I had two young children and believed the climate of South Africa wasn't suitable for them to grow up in. The values of the country didn't align with my personal values. It was an incredibly tough decision because my parents and my family were all in South Africa (they are still there) but we decided to up and move.

I arrived on the sunny shores of Sydney fifteen years ago with no job and started from scratch. My first job was at Computer Associates where I was hired to merge their data protection and data security businesses together around a single sales strategy. I was there for three years and then joined Oracle to run Public Sector for 6 years. I had a really great time setting up their public sector business, which didn't exist before I joined. While I enjoyed the success we experienced, it got to the point where I was looking for a bit more in my career and I started to find the company values weren't completely aligned with mine on a personal level. I took a year off and did consulting work while I figured out what I wanted to do next.
 

Is this where Salesforce enters the picture?

 

Yes. Funnily enough, I was approached by Oracle, Microsoft, and Salesforce at the same time. To be quite frank, Salesforce wasn't my first choice at all. For the first time ever, I reached out to three mentors whom I had bounced ideas off of in the past, and all three of them said I have to join Salesforce.  I was a bit taken aback by this, to be honest — six years ago Salesforce was a very different place than it is today.  My background is in running enterprise businesses and negotiating large strategic deals, and at that stage, that wasn't Salesforce in Australia. But all three mentors said to me, “Whether we like it or not, in five years, all services will be delivered via the cloud.”
 

"Every company has a set of guiding principles, but very few of them live them."

 

I started the conversation with Salesforce, took the role and can honestly say I've never looked back. As far as career decisions in my life, that was one of the best I've ever made. There is absolute alignment between what I personally respect and value in life and the organisation. Every company has a set of guiding principles, but very few of them live them. We live our values every single day. There's not a day that goes by where we aren't discussing one of our core values. And not only that, there is so much to learn at Salesforce. I've been here six years, and I could have started last week. Every day I get out of bed and I feel energised because there is so much I can contribute and accomplish to make an impact here.
 



 

You've had four jobs in six years at Salesforce! What advice do you have for others trying to grow their career and find success?

 

First, you need to understand that this company is on a massive growth trajectory in this region. Just yesterday we were announced as the #1 Best Place to Work in Australia and if you look at the 2022 goals our APAC leadership team has set, it's going to take a lot of people to reach those goals. Everyone who is here now really has the opportunity to grow their careers within the company. That also means there is a massive opportunity for new talent to join the organisation and experience this growth as well.

Second, you have to deliver on what you've been brought in to do. For my role in leading a sales team, this means delivering the number the business has asked me to meet. The second thing is to deliver on the values that we have in this company — trust, innovation, customer success, and equality. The third thing is to demonstrate some form of leadership by speaking up about the things you are passionate about.

At Salesforce, no matter your role, you have to look at success from multiple lenses. You need to look beyond your job description and contribute to other areas you are strong in and are extremely passionate about. You also need to take advantage of the Salesforce platform — it is incredibly unique. The fact that our CEO uses this platform as a way to improve the state of the world is an inspiration to the rest of us to follow. The fact that we get seven paid days off to volunteer is a huge advantage for our employees — those that capitalise on this opportunity really seem to enjoy it. There is a sense of balance and pride that comes with it, because not only have you worked hard to deliver on your job, but you've also managed to improve the communities you live in. This is a key differentiator at Salesforce because not many companies offer the opportunity to do well and do good at the same time. When I talk to customers about our platform, volunteering and philanthropy are some of the first things they mention. Even last night, I was on a plane back from Melbourne and happened to sit next to an ex-partner who I used to do business with, and the first thing he said to me was, “I just hear so much good about Salesforce in the community.” It wasn't about the product or about what we do, but what we do for our communities.
 

What qualities make a great leader?

 

To be compassionate, to be a really good listener, to think before you take action. And lead from the front. We're blessed at Salesforce to be surrounded by incredible leaders, who have been an inspiration to me in the way they lead. You have to be transparent here, you have to be honest. I think the level of transparency here is something that blows people away when they join the organisation. Transparency brings unity — everyone here is united around the cause.
 

Can you share a time in your career that tested you?

 

There are a number of times in my career where I've been tested, and it's been primarily around a decision process. Most of these challenges are particular to my role and are around making sure we are doing the right thing for our customers.  
 

"But if you can go to sleep at the end of the day knowing you've done the right thing for the customer, that's the most important thing."

 

I've been in numerous situations where we have committed to doing a certain deal by a certain date and where we can feel from the customer perspective that it is the wrong deal at the wrong time. Being conscious of this, and then being able to have the courage and conviction to say it isn't the right deal for the customer at this time. Coming to this understanding often involves very difficult conversations. The realisation that all the time and effort you've put into a deal isn't going to work out the way you planned is hard. But if you can go to sleep at the end of the day knowing you've done the right thing for the customer, that's the most important thing.
 

You are the executive sponsor for the Outforce Ohana Group. Tell us how you were inspired to become involved in this group, and why equality is important to you.

 

I was fortunate enough to have been brought up in a family where equality was a key value. In South Africa, which wasn't the best climate for equality at the time, I was taught to treat others with respect and everyone in my family was treated equally.  When I first came to Salesforce, I met a young BDR, Andrew, who shared with me some of the challenges gay men face in the workforce. Once their sexuality is known, they are treated differently — I was really astounded to hear this because I had never seen that complexity through this lens before. I took Andrew to a coffee and asked him to tell me more about these challenges. I was shocked to hear Andrew say that many gay people won't come out in their organisations because of how they get treated by colleagues and that they are often passed over for promotions because companies don't want to have them as leaders. I was blown away by this, especially because at Salesforce, we are conscious of creating an inclusive environment where people feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work every day.  Andrew had started the Outforce Ohana Group in the Sydney office and invited me to join them, so I did.

Very quickly I realised this small group needed a voice and an executive leader to support them, so I stepped up and have never looked back. I absolutely love it. Our strategy has changed and evolved throughout the years, but we have an incredible Outforce leadership team here in Sydney and we are changing the focus of the group from being one that has fun parties to one that is defined by core values. We are defining what is our “why?”, “What is our reason for existence?” and “What does it mean to be an ally?”. We've created a trail of what it means to be an ally, and once you complete the trail you are given a rainbow lanyard to wear with pride around the office. There will be a lot more direction and drive with these groups moving forward, especially from a leadership perspective.  We want to encourage every leader to be a part of an Ohana Group and help push their vision and agenda forward. And not just having the attitude of “I'm here, how can I help”, to “Here's the value I can bring from a leadership perspective”. It's a really exciting time for our Ohana Groups in the region, as we are starting to see a lot more momentum and investment in these programs and what it means to support our employees.
 

What actions, today, will have the greatest impact in ten years?

 

Living by our values. If we stick to our values, I honestly believe we will get to where we need to go.
 

Do you think there are any roadblocks for us to continue to live by our values?

 

Yes, ethics. This is going to be super difficult to keep an objective open view because the definition of ethics varies wherever people are on the spectrum. Wherever your perception of ethical is, the conversation will be very complex. Especially as we move into machine learning and AI, it's going to get very complex to navigate. How we deliver services to organisations that aren't necessarily aligned to our values is going to be interesting. We need to stick to our values — that's what we are about, and above all, it is the most important thing.
 

Which Salesforce value is most important to you and why?

 

This is so hard because all of them are so well selected. But if it was a life and death decision, I would choose Trust because I could roll up almost all other values into it. If I trust you, that means I know you treat others with respect and equality, I trust you to keep our customer's success at the forefront of everything you do, and I trust you to find innovative ways to do things better while looking out for the greater good.
 

If you could have dinner with anyone tomorrow (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

 

My mum, dad and Frank Sinatra, mainly because they are still in South Africa and I haven't seen them for about a year and my dad is one of Frank Sinatra's biggest fans. I would love to see the look on his face if he just casually joined us for dinner.

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