In our second blog series of Incredible Salesforce Certification stories, we hear from Leanne. After becoming frustrated with the status quo, she took the brave move to quit her job, become Salesforce-certified, and set up her own business.

A little over two years ago, I was stuck in a rut, frustrated and going nowhere fast. I was unchallenged in my job and could feel some skills dwindling away, along with my confidence. I needed a new challenge and the freedom to run things my way.

A Salesforce user for years, I was introduced to the program while working in hotel sales. When I moved to my next role, I mentioned I had used Salesforce previously, and hey presto I was “volunteered” as the company admin. So I embarked on a dual role job as a Corporate Account Manager / System Administrator—a story I hear echoed many times from my students!

I quickly became fascinated with the admin side of Salesforce. As a salesperson, the reporting side grabbed my attention immediately, and I was able to set up our team with individual dashboards focusing on targets and bonuses. I did not have the chance to attend an official admin training course, so I self-taught over the next four years. The more I discovered, the more I realized the extent of the untapped potential we had—but my ideas, unfortunately, fell on deaf ears and my frustration levels rose.

The idea of becoming a consultant was actually a friend’s flash of inspiration. It sounded perfect, so I decided to jump right in and invest my savings in proper training and certification. What a life-changing decision! It started with a call to a Salesforce training partner about my options, when I suddenly found the conversation going along the lines of, “Hey, how about we train you up and then throw loads of work your way as a consultant instructor?” I couldn't believe my luck.

Having been an end user and an admin for over five years, I thought I “knew” Salesforce. But attending the Administration Essentials for New Admins (ADM201) class as a student was a shock to the system... and a wake up call! The enormity of the task ahead started to sink in, along with the added pressure of living off my life savings, as I had quit my job to pursue this new opportunity. Happily, I passed my Administrator certification the first time, within six weeks of leaving my job.

Then came my Instructor certification, which involved co-teaching a class. The course in London was booked out with 20 students—a full house (no pressure, then!). Even though I knew the material inside out, I still had the fear that there were people in that room who knew more than I did. I also knew I was going to get questions that fell outside of the course content. In the end, I could answer most but still needed to “car park” a whole load of stuff. It’s a horrible feeling, as there are only so many times you can say, “I’ll look into that” or “I’ll come back to you” before you start to feel like a chocolate teapot. Of course, teaching gets easier with time and practice and the real-world experience I already had proved invaluable in riding the steep learning curve of instructor-dom.

Next, I decided to get my Pardot Consultant credential. With a degree in Marketing, I naturally gravitated towards this side of the business, and with Marketing Automation becoming more and more ingrained into business processes, it certainly made sense to get Certified. This one was not a pass first time...or second...but third time's the charm! Definitely a very challenging exam, but well worth the effort.

It was while studying for this certification that I set up my own company. Finally, I was able to do things my own way! My friends and family say I made getting a new business off the ground look easy, but I feel it was my Salesforce certifications that opened many doors. The opportunities becoming certified gives you are very cool!

My Salesforce career is moving pretty quick. I now teach public courses all over EMEA and I am loving it. My students just want to learn everything Salesforce, are open minded, and ask great questions. In the past year, I've also had the privilege of working on bespoke end user projects, both in developing curriculum and then delivery, all over the world. I've taught in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai, Lisbon, Brussels and, as I write this, I’m in Hong Kong international airport waiting for my flight back home after 10 days of instruction.

However, I’m not going to sugarcoat it. These courses can be tough! It's human nature to do what we know best, so me strolling in on a Monday morning, introducing a new system and new way of doing things, can get a lot of push back. You need to be extremely patient, empathetic, and thick skinned. In saying that, I also think that I’m well-placed to deliver this training. Being ex-sales, I understand the pain these teams face (and I know all the excuses, too!). It gives me a certain credibility when I say I was an end user, and can then talk about how I used Salesforce to help me close deals.

So, am I still bored and in need of a challenge? Absolutely not. I got what I wished for by working hard. I am so happy (and proud), and I wouldn’t change a thing! My advice to you if you're looking for a change—get Salesforce-certified! You just never know what doors it could open for you.

Leanne's Certifications:
Salesforce Certified Administrator January 22, 2015
Salesforce Certified Pardot Consultant August 22, 2016

If you’ve been inspired by Leanne's story, learn more about how you, too, can become a Salesforce Certified Professional.