More than 2000 Trailblazers shared career transformation stories, leadership lessons, product expertise, and passion for equality and inclusivity during Dreamforce ’19. Here are four stand out stories.
Dreamforce has always been about bringing Trailblazers together. We gather to celebrate shared success, inspire each other, and transform our careers, companies, and communities. This year’s Dreamforce was no exception as more than 2,000 Trailblazers shared career transformation stories, leadership lessons, product expertise, and passion for equality and inclusivity. There is a lot to be optimistic about. IDC predicts that by 2025, there will be 4.2 million jobs and a worldwide economic impact of $1.2 trillion of new revenue in the new Salesforce global economy.
From the opening keynote to hundreds of sessions, Trailblazers of all stripes shared their stories — from new Salesforce Admins to seasoned entrepreneurs to global visionaries. And like true Trailblazers — pioneers, innovators, lifelong learners, and leaders creating a path for others — we’re ready to share what we know to inspire others. As Co-CEO Keith Block says in the opening keynote, we are a company that does things differently, “By doing well and doing good, together.”
We believe we can do better together.
That’s why we find these four stories of Trailblazers and the Trailblazer Community so inspiring.
1. Karen Rivera transformed her career
Karen Rivera was among 70+ Trailblazers to share her story in the first-ever Trailblazer Theater. After a layoff and a pivot to a job in the heavy industries, Rivera faced another company reorg with a possible layoff. This time, her boss offered a lifeline; she could stay to manage their Salesforce instance.
Karen decided the only way to go was “all-in.” She signed-up for anything associated with Salesforce, which led her to Trailhead, Trailblazer Community Groups, #SalesforceSaturday, Women in Technology, and eventually certification as a Salesforce Admin. She even won an app-building contest at Camp Innovation during her first Dreamforce in 2017.
She shares, “I didn’t know the first thing about tech, let alone Salesforce, but I figured I’d just take the leap and grow wings on the way down!”
2. Sheldon Simmons encourages fellow veterans and friends to follow in his footsteps
During the opening keynote, Co-CEO Keith Block shared a film about Sheldon Simmons’ story. Sheldon worked to transform his life with Merivis, a Trailhead Military nonprofit partner that helps veterans and military spouses with training, connections, and jobs in the Salesforce ecosystem. Keith then welcomed Sheldon onstage to retell his journey from an underpaid hourly worker to a Salesforce consultant earning six-figures. Now, to give back, Sheldon has followed in the footsteps of his mentor and Merivis Co-Founder Hector Perez. He is a board member with the nonprofit that gave him a shot and a PepUp Tech mentor who encourages others to skill up on Trailhead to pursue careers in the Salesforce economy.
3. Amy and Ben Wright built a business based on inclusion
At the Trailblazer Theater, Bitty & Beau’s Coffee Founders Amy and Ben Wright shared how their mission-driven coffee business changes the way people see, value, and include others. That’s why they built a retail coffee shop with a message of inclusion interwoven into the business model. Employees with intellectual and developmental disabilities run each of their coffee shops. While they brew satisfying cups of joe, it’s the staff’s unique customer service that keeps customers coming back. As Amy says, “We believe we exist to show business what is possible. And to bring people with disabilities into the economic fabric of society.”
4. Three C-suite executives invite others to the table
We believe Trailblazers can’t “do well and good, together” if individuals from our community don’t have a seat at the table. At Salesforce, our higher purpose is to drive equality and inclusivity. And we know businesses are powerful platforms for social change, a change that often starts at the top. This is why we invited three leaders of color to join the Representation Matters panel at the Dreamforce ’19 Equality Summit to share how they create opportunities for underrepresented candidates. United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz shared how a high school counselor changed his life by asking him where he wanted to go to college. His answer then was, “what’s a college?” She then took the opportunity to guide him through the process. Now, Oscar is one of 11 Latino CEOs at a Fortune 500 company and believes, “… it is my duty to care, and send [as] many kids [as possible] to college through our foundation.” Under his leadership, 33% of his senior executives are women and women of color, and he says we need to move from exception to expectation for diverse representation among leadership. Chairman and CEO Adtalem Global Education Lisa Wardell believes that continued education for employees and job candidates in the pipeline can assure them a place at the table. “In financial services we certify and upskill people [since] their jobs are changing because of AI.”
Beyond the Trailblazer ethos of lifting and supporting each other, there is an economic argument for inclusivity. As Tonie Leatherberry says, ”When we don’t invest, and when we have wealth and income inequality, we’re reducing our GDP … from 1 to 5% in highly developed countries. To me, that’s the wake-up call. Every time we aren’t investing (in diversity, in each other), we are losing our competitive edge.”