alumni

Boomerang Spotlight - Lien Ceulemans

 
 

June 30, 2021

Theresa Ludvigson
& T.J. Vilardi

 

“Salesforce’s Culture is Something Really Special”

Our next Boomerang Spotlight is here! This month we sat down with Lien Ceulemans and learned about her journey to becoming a #SalesforceBoomerang. Read it here:
 

Arriving at Salesforce

Lien Ceulemans comes from, in her own words, “a small, modest, normal and lovely Belgian family.” Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that she would one day be a leader at one of the top technology companies in the world. However, today, that’s exactly what she’s doing as the country leader for Belgium and Luxembourg here at Salesforce. But her story doesn’t start there, so let’s rewind a bit.

In 2009, after finishing her law degree, Lien had the chance to study in the United States at Stanford University. While at Stanford, she was exposed to many exciting technology companies in Silicon Valley. One companies that peeked Lien’s interest was Salesforce. Lien told us, “While studying at Stanford, I gained amazing experience. I knew that if I ever wanted to get something like that again, I needed to break away from the law firms and go work for a top tech company — like Salesforce.” And just a few short years later, that’s what Lien did. “One day, I hopped on a train to London, arrived at the Salesforce office for my interview and never looked back,” said Lien.

In January of 2012, Lien started at Salesforce as a Corporate Counsel covering the EMEA region. “I knew I wanted to come work at Salesforce because of the challenge. I am always curious about learning new things and I felt Salesforce provided me that opportunity. Another reason is because of the people. One of the things I always value highly is people and I knew Salesforce did as well,” she said.

Lien was at Salesforce for the next 9 years and worked in a variety of roles. Lien told us, “I started on the legal team and then transitioned over to the privacy legal team as a Privacy Counsel. In 2016, I got the opportunity to lead the European Privacy team. This was a time where privacy was becoming an extremely important topic for many organizations and it was great to see how Salesforce took a leading exemplary role in this debate, given trust has always been Salesforce's number one value.” In 2018, Lien took on a global role as the Vice President of Global Privacy and Associate General Counsel. “We no longer say privacy legal team. We say privacy team because we cover a lot more than just legal. We had a fantastic time and I am still incredibly proud of the amazing work this team delivered for the entire organization and our customers. Most importantly, I made life-long friendships,” said Lien.

The Start of her Boomerang Journey

In 2020, Lien made the difficult decision to leave Salesforce. She told us, “while at Salesforce, I was always surrounded by well-rounded business leaders, which always made me wonder what it would be like to become one of those leaders one day. I was very intrigued by that thought of leading the core function of an organization.” Then, one of Lien’s biggest mentors and sponsors, Chris Ciauri, left Salesforce for Google. Shortly after leaving, he called Lien and asked her to become his Chief of Staff. “Chris is someone I look up to. He is a fantastic leader that I wanted to work with and learn from. I still loved Salesforce immensely when I left but I knew that I needed to explore this opportunity for myself and for the future of my career,” said Lien.

We asked Lien what she missed most about Salesforce while at Google. She told us, “I don’t know what it is about Salesforce but it is just special. The culture really is second to none.” She continued, “when I left Salesforce I always knew in the back of my mind that there was a strong possibility I would be back at the company one day.”

Then, in early 2021, Salesforce opened up a Country Leader position for Belgium and Luxembourg. This was the exact role that Lien had wanted and something she knew she couldn’t pass up. “It was really a no-brainer for me when this position opened up. It would surround me again with fantastic, smart, and supportive leaders that I know I can learn from each day. It would give me the opportunity to continue the business side of the role and at the same time it’s for a country with people that I know and love,” said Lien.

Salesforce: Part 2

Lien has been back at Salesforce as the Country Leader for Belgium and Luxembourg since May 2021. We asked Lien what excites her about being back at the company in this new role. She told us, “for me, it is about feeling that I have an opportunity to be a piece of the Salesforce puzzle. In BeLux, with my teams, we can to a certain extent, create our future and make a real difference. Anything we decide on, whether it be needing more office space, how many people we need to hire, how to invest in people’s development — it is all up to us to make it happen, create the best culture, and set the right ambition. I feel what I do with my team directly impacts the employees in the areas I lead. It’s people’s careers, wellbeing, the families, the customers, the partners, and the communities in which we live. It contributes to Belgium's future because it has a direct impact on people's lives.”
Team Picture: Legal and Compliance Team Offsite
When Lien left Salesforce, the company was still trying to figure out how to navigate the pandemic. She told us, “When I left, we went through this phase of ‘we need to make this work’, but there were a lot of unknowns. Now, there is a feeling of adapting to the new normal and we have found a lot of success in doing so. It is not over yet, especially in Europe, but it does feel like we are much more adapted with how to work and know-how to be successful.” 

Wellbeing and Giving Back

“Wellbeing is super important to me, but I am equally aware of the fact that I constantly need to put the effort in to find the right balance,” said Lien when speaking about her personal wellbeing. Lien’s theme of wellbeing is to mentally getaway. She told us, “if I am not sleeping enough it makes things much harder to get done and doesn’t allow me to be as creative. I also need to get away from my desk and make sure I am taking walks during the day. While on walks, I try and listen to podcasts to distract myself from thinking about work.” Which podcasts is she listening to on these walks? She told us her current favorites are “Work Life from Adam Grant” and “Unlocking Us from Brene Brown”. Lien also told us that healthy eating is another key to her success. “If I can get the balance of sleep, exercising, and healthy eating right, things are normally pretty good,” said Lien.
Team Building Rowing Event!
Giving back is something that Lien is very passionate about. She enjoys helping people through mentorship and coaching. “I have invested a lot in people. How can I use my knowledge and my platform to help others in their career? Can I have a half-hour conversation with someone and help them?,” she said. Lien is also passionate about Salesforce Equality Group, the Salesforce Women’s Network. She has also taken part in the #IamRemarkable program through Google, which is an initiative that empowers women and underrepresented groups to celebrate their achievements in the workplace and beyond. She told us, “it is such a simple idea but it gives people a platform to speak and uplift each other. It is a really fantastic initiative that is impacting lives everywhere.” Lien is also passionate about education. “I believe because of the education I have, like studying abroad, it completely changed my life and gave me great opportunities. I want to give others the same experiences,” said Lien.

Advice for Alumni

What advice does Lien have for other #SalesforceAlumni out there that may be interested in a return to the company? “If you want to come back, you can make that happen,” said Lien. She continued, “use your network, stay in touch with your connections to the company. Who do you need to reach out to to have coffee chats about current open roles? If you treat people nicely and with kindness, it really does goes a long way. It will help you build the network you need and that network will help you during your process of returning.”

Want to hear more about Lien’s amazing #SalesforceBoomerang story? Connect with her on LinkedIn! Or, if you’re inspired to find your next role at Salesforce, explore our openings today.

 

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