Salesforce Career Stories: The Importance Of Creating Your Own Luck
Eight years ago, Andrew Bourne was a little lost in his career – Salesforce was the jump-start he needed. Now Director of Sales Development in Australia, if he could give his 21-year-old self any advice it would be to join Salesforce sooner. He shares his career journey, revealing how he’s gotten lucky in his career, and why he now believes in the importance of creating your own luck and making your career aspirations known.
Where did you grow up and how did your career begin?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada – my entire family still lives there. After high school, I went to university, but I wasn’t ready, so I left.
I joined a management trainee program with a massive rental car organisation in North America. It was great, it taught me sales, management and how to run a business. I became a branch manager very quickly but it was a tough gig. I went to a historically low-performing branch in a bad location, and no matter what I did, I couldn’t lift the numbers.
So after spending many years working 60–80-hour weeks, stressed out of my mind, and chasing people for cars and money, I realised this wasn’t the life I wanted. Still relatively young, in my late 20s, I decided I wanted to do something different and travel the world.
During high school, I’d worked in a ski shop in Toronto. And, through friends, a ski shop in New Zealand offered me a job to run their workshop, paying for my flights and visa, and they did that for a few seasons. It was an amazing way to fund my travels around Australia and New Zealand.
Then one year, New Zealand had a tough ski season and there wasn’t much work. It was time to start taking my sales and management career a little more seriously again. Still living in New Zealand, I spent some time working as an Account Manager for Vodafone, met my wife and we made the decision to move to Canada.
How did your Salesforce adventure begin?
Back in Toronto, I got into recruitment and hated it – I only lasted three weeks. But my manager there suggested I talk to Salesforce – she saw in me the ‘Salesforce DNA’. I didn’t know anything about Salesforce, but not long after I saw an ad on TV for a recruiting night they were holding – it seemed like a sign.
I went along and met some amazing people. It was an instantly comfortable feeling and I said to myself, “These are the people I want to work with”. After that night, I landed a job as an ESB Account Executive – that was my entry into sales at Salesforce.
I did that role for 18 months, before my wife and I decided we wanted to move back to Australia or New Zealand to start a family. My manager at the time was incredibly supportive and introduced me to some key players in APAC, which was a really small team back then. They were looking for an SMB Account Executive, so we moved to Sydney in late 2011.
You’ve worked at Salesforce for eight years. How has the company changed?
I’ve seen a lot of acquisition and growth in that time, but also a lot of maturity in the Australian market. When I first started selling Salesforce in North America, I was selling into Boston and areas surrounding MIT – everyone knew about technology. You didn’t have to sell in the concept of cloud computing or Salesforce. But, it was a very different world in Australia.
I had to learn how to educate people on cloud computing, why it was important and what we were trying to do. Salesforce didn’t have any brand awareness and it was a much harder sell. The company’s grown a lot in that respect – I think being named one of Australia’s Best Places to Work three years in a row has helped.
And what’s stayed the same?
Everyone is still driven by the same thing: customer success. We’re all still incredibly passionate about what we do, and we live and breathe this company.
“Everyone is still driven by the same thing: customer success.”
The importance Salesforce puts on giving back also hasn’t changed. Any company can sign a big cheque, milk the photo opp and quickly get back to work, but at Salesforce it’s so different. You’re really empowered and supported to make a difference in the community.
What’s your best tip for someone who wants to grow their career at Salesforce?
Speak up, make your career ambitions known. I consider myself very lucky to be where I am now, because it was a chance encounter in 2013 that set me on a new path within the sales development side of Salesforce. I ran into one of our recruiters in the lift and by chance he let it slip they were hiring for a Manager of Sales Development. This was the role I wanted! Yet, I had no idea it was even open.
“Speak up, make your career ambitions known.”
I immediately called the Director of Sales Development at the time and asked if I was too late. They were quite advanced in the process but still let me apply and I got the job!
But, I learnt from that experience to speak up. I clearly hadn’t made people in my network aware of what I wanted to do next, so when the role came up, it wasn’t my name they thought of. How can you be put forward for a role that no-one knows you want?
What advice would you give your 21-year-old self?
Join Salesforce sooner! And stay in uni – dropping out was a big regret of mine. In fact, it impacted my chances of getting a job at Salesforce. The recruiters and hiring manager all said no because I didn’t have a degree. Fortunately, I was able to get in front of them and sell my passion and experience – it also helped that I had a plan to go back and study.
I ended up finishing my degree via distance education, which is a lot tougher to do when you have a full-time job. If I’d just stuck it out, it would have made life much easier down the track and no doubt led to career success much earlier in life.
What differentiates how we sell at Salesforce?
Our sales approach is very different to other companies. At Salesforce, you’re providing a solution to customers’ problems and it’s all about making them more successful. Externally, it’s very consultative; and internally, very collaborative.
“Externally, it’s very consultative; and internally, very collaborative.”
Why work at Salesforce right now?
We’re Australia’s Best Place to Work! We’re still growing, we’re still acquiring amazing companies and we’re still sticking to our core values. There’s so much more this company can achieve. I just can’t picture a better place to work that has a better culture, better group of people and better technology solution.
What makes someone successful at Salesforce?
You need to live the values (trust, customer success, innovation and equality) and can’t be afraid of hard work. You also need to be willing to put time and energy into both your success and the success of your team – you can’t just be out for yourself.
If you were to enter a food-eating contest, what would the food be?
Probably pizza. I can always find room for another slice of pizza.
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