Saving Lives and Satisfying Customers
“I just ran to the car. I managed to get down there, and I was the fourth person on site.”
By day, Andy is London-based Principal Solution Engineer at Salesforce. He discovers prospects’ needs and showcases how Salesforce technology can solve their pain points, removing any technical objections from the sales cycle. Solution Engineers are problem-solvers, quick on their feet, and collaborative. All skills Andy needed that day — but for another use.
You see, Andy is also a volunteer with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), a UK and Ireland based charity.
Primarily a coastal rescue service, their motto is “saving lives at sea” — and it’s exactly what it sounds like. Andy has been part of a lifeboat rescue crew in England for the past 16 years, most recently in Lyme Regis where he now lives — it’s how he does his volunteering.
But this day was a little different.
“When I arrived, I ran into the crew room to make sure they had enough people, and they didn’t,” Andy told us. “I started getting ready, and I remember, the Helm said, ‘Get changed, but we’re not waiting for you.’ That was the signal that people were drowning.“
Andy changed into his gear in roughly 90 seconds. Shortly after, he and his crew loaded into a burnt orange lifeboat and launched into violent waters.
“We contacted the Coast Guard to let them know we were on our way. They wanted to know our estimated arrival time and we wanted to know if the guys were still in the water.”
The Coast Guard, meanwhile, had a crew on the beach with binoculars looking at the two 14-year old boys washed out to sea. That land team communicated to Andy’s boat and provided navigation.
“Our approach was pretty fast. Typically, people who are in danger at sea either get themselves out or a passing boat gets them, but they were 500 meters out and there were no other boats around. So no one else could assist. It was up to us.”
Receiving navigation from the Coast Guard, the boat crew soon spotted the two teen boys, Archie and Beau, who were getting tossed in rough, 59-degree waters, succumbing to hypothermia.
“We pulled the boat straight in and grabbed them,” Andy recounted. “In those moments, training sort of goes out the window – the single biggest thing is get ahold of them and do not let go.”
They monitored the boys’ vital signs in the boat, and proceeded to get them warm and protected from the wind with a plastic wrap until the helicopter overhead retrieved them by harness. The expedited rescue was especially needed because Archie kept drifting off.
“There was a really big difference between the two of them. Archie was minutes away from hypothermia. They were very, very cold… shivering. They were treading water the whole time and just physically exhausted.”
From launch to getting the boys out of the sea, it took Andy and his crew roughly 10 minutes to complete the rescue.
Archie and Beau both recovered at the hospital, and Archie even reunited with his rescuer two days later.
“Any time you save a life, it's always amazing. It's kind of why you do it — and that is that 'helping people' bug. I feel genuinely lucky that I got to go on the boat.”
Andy’s story leaves our adrenaline pumping — and curious — how can someone with such a thirst for adventure find fulfillment in an office job?
Well, like many of us, Andy’s interests are varied. “Salesforce’s volunteer time off (VTO) model enables me to attend lifeboat training and call outs during work days without using holiday time that I would spend with the family. It’s enabled me to save the lives of Archie and Beau, and rescue two stricken professional sailors,” he shares.
When he’s not protecting those at sea, he’s working with leading brands to solve the toughest problems. “I’ve been given some amazing opportunities to work with and solve the needs of global companies. I dive into the challenges they’re facing and help them see a solution.”
Andy is encouraged to explore uncharted waters (pun intended) in his career. He’s recently moved from Lead to Principal Solution Engineer. And now, he’s exploring management, where he can continue to use his passion for helping others by coaching. “A big part of my development has been the tools, projects and people around me. I have attended great training courses and worked within great teams.”
Are you a thrill-seeker hungry for your next adventure? Explore open roles at Salesforce to find a position that fuels your passions.