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Trailblazer Shuang Stoppe with Cloudy-the-goat both in iconic Trailblazer hoodies against a forest background
With Salesforce, Shuang can bring her own type of order to a sales leadership team.
Trailblazer Story

How I Discovered My Career Passion as a Sales Ops Leader

See how Shuang discovered her true career passion by leaving her comfort zone, keeping an open mind, and having a willingness to learn.

Little did I know that when I made the move from Singapore to Boston I would discover what I’m really passionate about.

“For me, running reports and dashboards in Salesforce brings order to a chaotic world.”

That move led me to become a director of sales operations — a dream role for me! Maybe it has to do with my personality — I’ve always been a math person — but for me, running reports and dashboards in Salesforce brings order to a chaotic world.

Just as a car’s dashboard tells you if you need to speed up or slow down, or if your engine is overheating, the Salesforce Platform makes sense of what’s happening inside a company.

Finding my passion

The first time someone offered me a job in sales operations, I wasn’t sure what the role entailed. It was 2010, and I had been working for a software company in Singapore, where I was initially a solutions engineer and then a client renewal sales manager.

“I became a Salesforce super user, not only helping to improve the company’s sales processes but also building a whole new personal brand in sales ops.”

I was looking for a way to transfer to its headquarters in Boston. The company’s sales leaders noticed that I had been involved in a cross-team project using Salesforce to find opportunities for revenue growth in the Asia-Pacific, and they thought I could do the same in the U.S.

I immediately loved being able to bring my type of order to a sales leadership team in a way that manual work could never accomplish. I became a Salesforce superuser, not only helping to improve the company’s sales processes but also building a whole new personal brand in sales ops.

Bridging two worlds

In 2014, I joined Bright Horizons, a leading global provider of high-quality early education and childcare, where I’m currently vice president of growth operations. Now, I get to work at the intersection of business and technology, two parts of a company that don’t always speak the same language.

It can be difficult for some companies to translate business goals into technology solutions, but I get to bridge the two worlds.

A willingness to learn

It’s funny to think back now at my initial reaction when a manager asked me to start using Salesforce back in 2008. I was just happy to be using spreadsheets, after seeing customer data in three-ring binders when I started. I wondered what Salesforce was and why it was worth using.

That just shows the importance of an open mind and a willingness to learn. I see those traits all around me today at Bright Horizons, where we upskill employees using Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform.

The gamification element lets us compete against each other and celebrate our top performers. And it’s not all about technology: I recently assigned the Empathetic Leadership trail to our entire leadership team.

Four top tips to help you on your journey

My journey has literally taken me across the world! Here are a few tips I’ve picked up along the way that I hope will help you with yours.

  1. Build your brand for the role you want.
    Research the role you’re interested in to find descriptions of what the job entails, including key responsibilities. Then, marry that with your current job and company. How can you describe your skills and strengths in a way that aligns to what companies need from people in these roles? If you don’t think something is a strength, how can you stretch yourself in that area? All of this will help you build your brand for the job you want — not just the one you have.
  2. Ask for professional development time.
    I had to spend a lot of my weekend time learning how to use Salesforce — but you shouldn’t have to. Today, there’s a growing awareness, at the corporate level, that employees need professional growth. Companies should have policies in place along the lines of, “You can dedicate 4 hours per week to professional growth.” If you’re interviewing for a job, ask what the company policy is. If you’re at a company that doesn’t have such a policy yet, start a conversation with your HR department. Ultimately, having that time is good for both the employee and the company.
  3. Look for a company that’s open-minded.
    You want to look at the growth potential of the company. If it seems very rigid in its structure — in other words, it operates how it operates, with no flexibility — then it may limit your trajectory. The reason I joined Bright Horizons is because I felt there was a lot of flexibility. There wasn’t a sales operations team at the time, but they encouraged me to build whatever I thought was the right thing to build, and gave me a lot of latitude to do so. 
  4. Lead with learning.
    As you move into leadership roles, you’ll be more effective if you can show that you’ve taken the time to learn everything your employees need to know for their jobs. That’s part of why I got my Salesforce Administrator Certification, even though I felt like I already knew plenty about the platform. If you can speak the language of your team members, then they’ll feel like, “You really understand my life. You understand what it takes to build something.” It’s also a counter check. They can’t bluff and say, “Well, this is going to take 2 weeks.” No, this is a 2-hour job. Watch me.

My growth track has been a process of taking myself out of my comfort zone — finding something uncomfortable and making it comfortable. Whichever path you pursue, I encourage you to do the same.

And finally, check out my favorite resources:

Follow Shuang in the Trailblazer Community at trailblazer.me/id/sstoppe

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