“I never imagined I would be at Salesforce as long as I was the first time around. However, it was all the opportunities I was given to learn and be pushed outside of my comfort zone that kept me here. I had a lot of wins but I also had a lot of hard learnings, which were equally important. I highly credit and have to thank several leaders for these opportunities including Rajani Ramanathan
, Courtney Broadus
, Steve Fisher
, Randy Kern
, and Vijay Gill
. I continued to see successes in my role and always loved the succession planning aspect of the business, but am also driven by making differential impact for customers and the business. I was wondering what would be next for me in my career,” said Mark.
While figuring out what was next, Mark took a sabbatical from Salesforce to get away for a bit and clear his mind. During the sabbatical, Mark had conversations with other companies in the industry and ultimately felt intrigued by what Twilio had to offer him. “Twilio peaked my interest initially because of their mission to fuel the future of communications through API’s. Also, a number of Salesforce Alumni were there and it reminded me of Salesforce in the early days,” he said. In 2018, after twelve years with Salesforce, Mark joined Twilio as Vice President & GM of Data and Billing Platforms. However, as he told us, “I knew I would not be surprised if I one day returned to work for Salesforce in some capacity.”
Although Mark was no longer employed by Salesforce, he still kept in touch and stayed in the know about things that were happening at the company. “I definitely kept my ties. My sister, Laura Nelson
, worked at Salesforce at the time so obviously I had the family connection there, but I still kept in touch with many of my former colleagues and teammates,” said Mark. One of those people that Mark kept in touch with was Randy Kern
, a colleague from the engineering organization. Mark told us, “I was speaking with Randy and he told me he had to introduce me to the other Mark Nelson
(current CEO and President of Tableau
) because we were both good people and had the same name. Mark is brilliant and we hit it off.”
When leaving Salesforce, Mark told us there were things that he knew he would miss about the company no matter what new company he was a part of. “There were several things that I missed. I missed the structure around our focus on planning and execution. Using the V2MOM
as a mechanism for that is key and there isn’t anything like that elsewhere. I always knew what the north star was while employed at Salesforce. Marc Benioff does an amazing job of communicating, selling, and getting the organization excited. I also really missed the people — there is a lot of amazing talent at Salesforce. From the leadership team down to individual contributors — they are all unmatched.” said Mark.