In 2016, all Zoe Lai knew of Salesforce was that it was “one of the CRM brands”. Fast forward to today and her Trailblazing journey is at full speed. Having recently moved on from her role at RMIT (where she worked for nine years), she is now a consultant at Salesforce Partner, Cloud Industry Group. She shares her Trailblazing journey.
I grew up in Taiwan, where I studied for a Bachelor of English Language and Literatures, while working as a marketing specialist part-time. I always loved copywriting and media communication, so working in marketing was a natural fit for me.
Then in the mid-2000s, I spent three years in London studying for a Master of Arts at the University of the Arts London. In the UK I met my husband.
When I moved back to Taiwan, the digital marketing sector was booming, so I seized the opportunity and started working as a Digital Project Manager for a web consultancy. This role involved helping clients – such as L’Oreal Taiwan, Garnier and Maybelline – with website architecture, website maintenance and digital marketing.
In 2009, my husband and I decided to move to Australia, and I was fortunate to quickly land a job at Melbourne’s RMIT. I first joined on a 12-month maternity leave cover, but I ended up staying there for nine years!
I had three different roles at RMIT. First, I worked as a Mobility Officer helping students secure opportunities to study abroad. I quite enjoyed this job but it was very different to the work I was doing back in Taiwan. So, in 2012, I was happy to move into a project management role in the industry engagement team, and start using some of my previous experience again.
It was in this role that I had the opportunity to be the project lead on a Salesforce pilot in 2016. Upon successful completion of the pilot, my role evolved, so I was specifically managing Salesforce and analytics for my team.
I’d heard of Salesforce – I knew it was one of the CRM brands – but that was it! What I lacked in experience, I made up for in enthusiasm. I was super excited we were implementing a proper CRM – our data previously lived in spreadsheets.
I did have a very clear vision of what the business needed the pilot to achieve. Working with RMIT’s IT services team and our implementation partner Cloud Industry Group (where I work now), I outlined the business processes we needed to evolve, key priorities and KPIs, and we worked back from there.
The pilot was very successful! So at this point I was motivated to learn more about Salesforce, and I started my Trailblazer journey at full speed. We’d kept the pilot very simple, so while I knew what we needed as a business unit, I didn’t have a grasp on what else Salesforce could do for us.
So, I went through the Salesforce User Acceptance Training (UAT). Then I discovered Trailhead and realised just how powerful Salesforce is – the scope of our pilot was just the tip of the iceberg.
I attended Salesforce World Tour in 2017, which was just a ‘wow’ experience. I learnt about Lightning and was quite impressed, so I put together a business case to upgrade from Classic to Lightning – and it was approved.
Cloud Industry helped out again, but this time in a consulting capacity, while I did 80 per cent of the hands-on configuration work.
Like at any large organisation, at RMIT we had people who loved the Salesforce platform but we also had people who were hesitant about learning a new technology. Adoption was something I was always trying to improve, running regular one-on-one coaching sessions and a fortnightly Trailhead Study Group where we’d workshop solutions. It was also helpful to get executive buy-in, so they could drive change from the top down.
I communicated the change to Lightning to the team in a considered way and was pleased to see Salesforce adoption significantly increase.
Five now! And I’m getting my sixth – Salesforce Sharing and Visibility Designer.
Not long after I’d launched the Salesforce pilot, I wanted to get the formal qualification to validate my skills, experience and involvement with the project, so I passed my first certification, Salesforce Certified Administrator.
Then I sat for the Sales Cloud Consultant exam, which I failed three times. Fortunately, I had an incredibly supportive director who encouraged me to put in the study time during work hours – that really helped me pass in the end.
Next was the Service Cloud Consultant exam, which I passed at the first go!
Continuous learning is key! Technology is always evolving and you need to stay relevant. Trailhead is such a great tool to help you achieve this, as is learning from the experiences of admins in other businesses.
Go along to as many Salesforce events as you can and connect with the community. It’s so valuable to learn how other Trailblazers are using Salesforce, and what their challenges and successes are.
If you’re not learning from others outside of your organisation you're doing yourself a disservice, because you’ll have a closed view of the Salesforce ecosystem, limiting your ability to innovate.
Build a Branded Chat – when I’m the customer, I prefer live chat as a service channel, so it was fascinating to learn how this experience is created.
I’ve just changed roles and companies, so I’m incredibly excited about the next 12 months and beyond. I want to grow my Salesforce career, which was the motivation behind taking the job with Cloud Industry Group. By working for a Salesforce Partner, I’ll have much more opportunities to learn and develop my skills, getting exposure to different products, industries and projects.
My long term goal is to become a Solution Architect. I’m working through the Architect Journey: Sharing and Visibility Trailmix in Trailhead, and I follow Ladies be Architects and many other inspirational Trailblazers – I’m taking baby steps and working towards becoming a certified Salesforce architect.
Accelerate your Salesforce career by learning new skills with Trailhead.
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