Our APAC Recruitment Director, Michael de Graaf, recently joined the Salesforce Ohana after the acquisition of integration platform MuleSoft. He shares what it’s like going through an acquisition, the power of an authentic employer brand and why working at Salesforce APAC is “like unwrapping a present that doesn't stop unwrapping”.

How did you get into recruiting?


I don't actually know anyone who studied to be a recruiter – everyone seems to fall into recruiting and then realise they love it. Well, that’s my story anyway.

After leaving high school, I trained to be a sommelier and did that for five years before realising that when I was working, everyone else was having fun. I wanted my weekends back. So I got into financial planning, working as a practice manager, helping financial advisers run and grow their business.

Then I spent 18 months living in the UK and travelling around that part of the world. But, I struggled to find work and somehow fell into a recruitment job.

The seed was sown. When I moved back to Australia in 2006, I stayed in recruiting, working my way through roles with a recruitment agency, ninemsn, Vodafone, Deloitte, MuleSoft and now Salesforce.

What do you love about recruiting?


As a recruiter, you get to see the inner workings of an organisation, and help shape and influence it – that’s such an amazing position to be in. In the organisations I’ve worked for, including Salesforce, I’ve been very fortunate that recruitment has had a seat at the table – it's been seen as the key strategic business function it is.

You joined Salesforce through an acquisition. Tell us about that experience.


It’s the first time I’ve gone through an acquisition on the non-acquiring side, and it’s certainly an interesting experience.

MuleSoft had a very strong employee value proposition and, while I’d only been there a short time, it was very quickly apparent that all the Muleys were emotionally invested in the business and it didn’t take me long to do so either. When the acquisition was announced and through the following months, it really forced many of the Muley’s to have to reevaluate who they were in this new world – it’s an emotional rollercoaster.

"At the end of the day, the acquisition has created a whole lot of new opportunities for a lot of people."


But, if MuleSoft was going to be acquired by anyone, there couldn’t have been a better company than Salesforce – our values and purpose are very much aligned and this made the transition much easier. And, at the end of the day, the acquisition has created a whole lot of new opportunities for a lot of people.


What’s surprised you about working at Salesforce?


I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how engaged, passionate and invested the Salesforce APAC leadership team is in talent acquisition. They understand the value of a high performing recruitment function, and this really motivates you as a recruiter.


How important is employer brand in today's war for talent?


The war for talent isn’t won by appealing to the masses, it’s won by creating an emotional attachment with each individual within a specific segment of professionals you’re looking to employ. Each person will or will not relate to your brand and related messaging. THose that have nailed their employer brand will emotionally engage the right talent for the business.

Strong employer brands are authentic, transparent and reflect externally exactly what’s going on internally. Too many organisations promote they’re a great place to work but it’s not authentic. If you scratch beneath the surface, it's just a lot of empty words and not a lot of action.

I like how Salesforce drives its employer brand through culture. The company is incredibly passionate and purposeful about creating a healthy, intentional culture that’s built around our core values of trust, customer success, innovation and equality for all. Culture is certainly no accident at Salesforce.

How does recruitment help feed Salesforce’s culture?


When recruiting, it’s important we bring people into the business who have values that align with ours. This means we’re not just looking for people who have the skills to do the job or those that have a “culture fit”, we’re looking for those who also have values alignment. Because that value alignment brings a certain set of behaviours that people need to be successful at Salesforce – skills alone don’t guarantee success.

"When recruiting, it’s important we bring people into the business who have values that align with ours."


If you’re executing your employer brand strategy right, you should be attracting people who believe in your values and purpose, so we all move forward in the same way. What’s great about looking for values alignment rather than cultural fit is that values alignment makes room for real diversity. I think Salesforce is doing a better job than most on this front.

In your job, what do you think the most about?


I think a lot about my team, their engagement and that their time at Salesforce is something they really enjoy and learn from. I think about how I can help them be successful now and in their careers in the future.

At the same time, I’m also thinking about how we deliver upon our commitment to the business. We’re still a business, we’re growing fast and we’ve got a job to do.

What makes you excited about coming to work?


Thinking about all the solutions to the above challenges, the awesome people and knowing that the business you work is about more than  profits and empty values. It stands for more.

What makes Salesforce APAC an exciting place to be right now?


There's so much change, so much opportunity and so many challenges. Every day there's a dozen new problems to solve and new solutions to find because we’ve reached the next stage of our growth. It's like unwrapping a present that doesn't stop unwrapping (and keeps giving).

"There's so much change, so much opportunity and so many challenges."


Some people could be really put off by that. But, if you have a solution mindset and positive approach to work, if you back yourself and are willing to come for a wild ride, then this is the best possible place to work. The growth that we're going through and will continue to go through makes every day truly exciting!

What's an app or gadget you can't live without? And don’t say your phone.


My SONOS wireless home sound system. I'm absolutely obsessed with it – it’s the best investment I’ve ever made. I've got speakers in every room of the house and it's all controlled by an app, so you can play different music in different rooms, at the same time. For example, I have a three-month-old baby, so I can put on white noise in the baby room, while listening to something completely different in the kitchen. It’s great!

If you’re ready to transform your life, inside and out of work, come join the Salesforce team. Sign up for our newsletter to be kept informed about upcoming jobs, plus receive tips to improve your work/life balance at your current job and more.