She’s fearlessly moved to new countries where she didn’t speak the language, taken on roles for which she had little previous experience and eagerly dove into learning about new technologies. 

Suffice it to say that Elodie Martinez has no problem trying new things. It’s one of the many attributes that makes her the kind of Trailblazer worth learning more about. 

As the Sales Operations Manager for Quebec City-based Gecko Alliance, Elodie spends her time identifying, designing, building, testing and deploying Salesforce solutions and related applications. She also helps with troubleshooting, suggests process improvements and works directly with the sales team in areas that include budgeting and strategy development. Oh, and let’s not forget all the training sessions she’s led, which has resulted in massive adoption across the team. 

“Today, when I see 100 per cent logins every day, it just feels like such a huge transition,” she says, noting that Gecko’s stack includes Sales Cloud, Service Cloud and a lot of custom objects that have been tied into the company’s sales processes. “We went from nothing to Salesforce.

The origin story

Elodie’s path to becoming a Trailblazer was anything but obvious. Born in France, she studied business and spent time in both Germany and the Netherlands before deciding to move to the United States. 

“I did not speak a word of English,” she recalls, “I found myself in Ohio, and it was kind of a cultural shock, and I was thinking the first month it was the biggest mistake I ever made. But then I met my husband and we wound up staying seven years.”

The couple moved to Quebec City in 2013 when Elodie’s husband got a job here in Canada. She eventually got her own career moving by joining Gecko as an executive assistant. 

“I will never regret working in that position,” she says now. “I would recommend anyone to do it. It really gives you a 360-degree view on how decisions are made, where you’re facing the reality of what other departments are facing and you have eight directors around a table who have to compromise with one another.” 

Things changed, however, when Elodie’s current boss joined the firm in 2015 and wanted Gecko to adopt Salesforce. 

“He knew it could make a difference in the way a company was organized,” she said. “He wanted someone to join the team as a Salesforce admin.

Although the initial Sales Cloud rollout involved only ten people, Gecko experienced double-digit growth in the first year after using the technology, Elodie says.

The Trailhead effect

It was around this time when, as Elodie jokes, “I got the very bad idea of getting pregnant.”

It’s not that a baby wasn’t welcome, but it meant leaving Gecko after a consultant had helped with the initial Salesforce implementation. There were still some things the organization needed to figure out in order to make the most of the technology. At home on maternity leave, meanwhile, Elodie felt called to help from afar.

Elodie started learning more about the ins and outs of Salesforce’s CRM, customer service applications and other tools through Trailhead. “It gave me a purpose for when I was going to return to work. I wanted to be as knowledgeable as I could.”

Learning through Trailhead did even more than that, helping Elodie to reposition herself among her coworkers. 

“In the beginning, it was tough to switch roles,” she says. “Coworkers were still seeing me as an assistant. It took a while for them to see me as an expert in my role. Once I was back with my team within a few months, though, there was no issue whatsoever. They were ready to turn to me for help.”

Life as a Trailblazer

Today, Elodie is not only thriving at Gecko. She’s also leading the Quebec City Salesforce User Group, which provides in-person opportunities to connect with the community she first encountered on Trailhead. A sure sign of success? She says those who participate tend to spend an extra 30 or 40 minutes beyond the scheduled meetings because there’s so much to discuss and share. 

“I’m part of the team at work, but what I do on a daily basis is not what they do,” she points out. “Being able to share your roadblocks, your fears with people in similar roles — it’s amazing.”

Of course, not everyone embraces change, and some of us are shy. In those cases, Elodie recommends not necessarily walking into a giant user group or conference with 600 people but starting small with a more intimate meeting of peers. 

“Even if you don't reach out to people, you can listen to what's going on. You see that you’re not the only one — we’re thousands of people in the same boat,” she says.

Being a Trailblazer also means being prepared to do whatever it takes to master a skill. This is the other great thing about a resource like Trailhead. 

“You can use it over and over again,” she says. “You can use it until you get it. And you will get it.”