Curious about what it's like to be an intern at Salesforce? Welcome to the Salesforce Spotlight. The podcast series that highlights the extraordinary stories of Salesforce employees and future force interns. I'm Barbara Alberts and this episode of the Salesforce Spotlight features sales intern Samuel Gonzalez who helped establish an employee resource group in Madrid less than one month into his internship. Tune in for more and happy listening.
With me now all the way from Madrid is Samuel Gonzalez. Thank you for joining!
So about Futureforce and Salesforce was basically, I am a third year now so I am a junior [inaudible 00:01:36] last year [inaudible 00:01:37] Salesforce. This happened basically because right now on Madrid, since a couple years or so, there is a booming start-up scene. So there isn't a lot of conversations and conference happening and at the same time everywhere about technology, about startups, about technology world change, you know?
One of the big topics is customer centricity and actually one of the main start up hubs in Madrid which is a [inaudible 00:01:59]. Which is one of the account executives in Madrid came there and had a conference on customer centricity and how Salesforce was doing this. That was the moment I basically got to know Salesforce and then a week after that I got to go to the career firm, my university at IE and that's basically, Futureforce was there, I got to meet all the opportunities that happens at Futureforce specially and in Salesforce Madrid Office. That was a kick starting a great relationship with this amazing company.
Well that was a goosebumps day I have to say, cause the first day we had this presentation this Ohana presentation of the values and basically what is the culture at Salesforce. Now I really love that that is the first thing that they say whenever you enter the Salesforce door right?
So it's basically welcome to Ohana. What does it mean to be part of Ohana? What is Ohana? Basically now, so rather than focusing on your role or giving you a run up it's more business oriented.
I love that it's culture oriented from the first day and more specifically for interns, which is basically a future with company, and you know it's basically creating a new environment for you personally. And yeah, it was a day of presenting values, what do we do at Salesforce, what are products, et cetera and I remember having my manager who flew from Dublin and he was my direct manager from all Futureforce basically, and he was telling us about these stories of him being gay and him being after many companies in a place that valued him for what he was, and who he was and how he could bring his full self to the office now.
What all the programs around there without force and all the Ohana groups and that was basically a day that I had just goosebumps that day, I got very emotional at that point and was like, wow, this is the first time I feel like this in a company in somewhere basically. I had never felt that way in my school or my university or whatever but it was the first time in my life that it was like, wow! This is a warm welcome.
Yeah, so I'm going to get a little personal here.
I think it's important because, well for anyone that hears, if it's from Salesforce and not from Salesforce or is thinking about coming to Salesforce I guess, it's that moment that tells you about the values and about what really matters to Salesforce like being who you are. 100% of you in every single place. Specifically for LGBT community it's super important because of one thing, because whenever you go, and you have this office tour around and that's the normal thing in your mind you're going to be thinking. Like, okay I need this social validation if IO can be here myself, we're going to talk about my personal stuff, which is the normal thing that everyone talks about, and that moment really empowers you.
Whenever I tell you, okay, Salesforce is this way and this is the Ohana we value everyone, we respect everyone. Then, you go out, and you may be thinking, okay, this person may be a little less oriented to respectfulness or not, but you know, the company is protecting you in that sense.
Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely!
I mean, you mentioned that your manager had spoken to you about the Ohana groups that are available for Salesforce employees who are looking for a community. Did Madrid at that time have Outforce as an Ohana group available?
They had nothing, and it was like a midterm goal they had actually. I was today having lunch with the international CEO Arcenial, and he told me today two years ago we were actually talking with Nacha, which is like the office manager, the one who basically runs everything in the office, and he was like, "I was telling her we have to make something about this to happen".
They thought it was super complicated, super difficult to make it happen in Madrid because there was no...
Even though has one of the largest pride celebrations in the world, there was nothing of Out force or any Ohana groups, you know!
Then, last year it happened exactly that way. We had this conversation with the manager. We did this Ohana presentation and that day I got out of the office, I was still talking to my manager and it was like, okay so we have this great LGBT, well we call it LGBT at work event, where we talk about basically the issues and all the situations of LGBT community in the workplace and we organize it every year in my university.
We have great sponsors. It's been rolling since it was like, since 2006, and it's one of the biggest in the world and there's no Salesforce.
We're going to try to work it out, and finally the following day they called me. They said okay you know it was the first time this happens for Futureforce but it's going to be a gold sponsorship and we're going to get a gold sponsored event and we're going to take a lot of people there.
At that point they also told me okay, also if you want to make something happen for pride, go ahead and that was the moment it all started.
Kicked off pride and then it kicked off the basic information of the Outforce group itself.
So what was the response like from your co-workers and your peers around that first pride event?
It's was very tough because what I'm talking as if we had months of preparation, but it was really like two weeks away from that conversation. So, it was very crazy. We didn't have a budget for Outforce because it was like two weeks away and that starts with one year of preparation. We had nothing at that point, so it was a lot of conversations happening with everyone.
My manager told me okay, you want to do this? If you want to do this very well, prepare a plan, prepare a presentation a [inaudible 00:08:57] and not just for this pride, but for the whole year and you're going to present this to Arcenial, and you're going to present this to the country leader, and it was like, what?
Okay, you remember I'm an intern right? And he was like, that doesn't matter at Salesforce and it's completely true.
So, so yeah. I came up with his plan and prepared this for a whole year and there's all these angio communities and [inaudible 00:09:22] focused on this issue, and I got in touch with them. I got to talk to everyone, and I talked with all the organization of the pride itself and it was like okay so you're not accepting any longer new participants in pride right? Okay, you need to make one big exception.
It finally worked out, and it was a massive response. We took like 80 people, employees and their families and everyone from the Salesforce office in Madrid. Which 80 it's insane because it basically you think about an office of just 250 and not just in Madrid but in Barcelona at this point. It's a very big number for the first time in two weeks just away from it.
So, it was incredible. We have these Brazilian drums in Batuca. We have these incredible great balloons in there. Everyone's dancing! Wow! It was... It was... I get goosebumps!
Yeah, it sounds like you've been having a few goosebumps days but it's great to hear that. It's great to know that you know, interns have this ability to make and impact, work on a project that they're passionate about and kind of get in front of some higher-up people who are willing to support them in those projects which is really awesome!
So, before you had come to Salesforce though, had you interned at any other companies before?
It's a very different world. So, nothing related to internships in other companies. I had interned in start-ups before, but it wasn't nothing at all compared to this. There's nothing comparable but what I can say from other friends that I have that work in some big names out there now, I can say that the culture in Salesforce you can say many things but there is nothing you can say about it like it's not authentic.
Even many other companies I have like eight posters in the wall saying that respect is the first thing, and then all these values now, but in like in big posters they have in every single wall they have in the office but in Salesforce we may not have as many posters but we live up to those values and that's something that no one understands out of Salesforce. Sometimes it takes a lot of time, but yeah!
Actually this year that pride from 80 people grew to 230 people.
They're all a couple of weeks.
That was incredible!
So yeah, we were actually the largest pride in Amea and you really feel that from an office that is 250 people. We have 230 employees and their families coming to pride. That's a culture that really lives up to their values and they want to stand for everyone that needs it, and support every single minority or every single body that they want to respect so, again authenticity. That's the thing I really like about this company.
Looking too at just your internship in general, you are a sales intern so how has your experience interning at Salesforce changed the way you think about the business in general and the purpose of just the business?
Well, in this case I need to actually I was before, I was solution engineering last summer for summer internships and then I changed to sales programs, which is more like analytics and basically building the sales strategy.
That's kind of my role there. It's basically internal and integrated in to many state callers and not just in Madrid or Liberia, but throughout all Europe basically.
It's a very interesting euro because you get to know different departments, you know.
One of the things that has changed absolutely it's... I started in a university that used to be a business corporate, so the majority of my subjects are completely related to business, and I have this big marketing in finance and everything.
Many times of course you're focusing on the numbers, you're focusing on the goal that the business has to be successfully is to be profitable, and it's basically to make money you know!
But, you know when you come to Salesforce it's basically okay, making money is important, but you need to think about the long term goal which is to have a better world. In I want to say a couple of years, but in many years I'm going to leave this world as every none of us and it's like we have this long term world, this long term goal which is to basically improve this place for the humans and all the animal species and everyone that is to come and experience it after us.
It's very important to translate that to business and that's a message that is very clear and just branded in Salesforce.
You're building and today you're doing a great sale and you're getting this big company to sign a contract with Salesforce and to use their software because you want them to do better, but a part from that you'll want to create a long term goal which is improving the world to do better you know.
That is the role of the business, and that's the thing that Mark says to do better and that's the business of the business chain in the world and I totally feel identified with that. Actually, this year I had the opportunity to go to Stanford to other university things, and that's kind of the culture you live in the valley and the bay area everywhere with the start-ups it's like we're changing the world. We're making this a better place and that's something that Salesforce is taking to other places in the world and expanding that message.
I'm super grateful they changed my mindset and that they are doing that!
No, I thought that again there was some big poster you stick on the wall and that's it, and then you brag about it and you do lots of marketing on it.
But, not something that was going to be in every single decision that you take with the company.,
It's like you see these big decisions it's not only to a local place now, but you see this big decisions of Salesforce, well yeah, basically the direction of Salesforce saying that no we're not having a contract with a border's authority or whatever.
The employees didn't want it to be like that so you feel okay, some massive company, there's so many employees worldwide and it's going to get so much bigger.
You know, the values still matter and for every single decision like profit is nice, but profit is good for some big reason which is changing this for a better place.
No, not at all.
I'm going to have to be honest here. Not at all. I didn't imagine this was going to happen. You know, the goals you have as an intern maybe are like at the start whenever you're in the university and they tell you, whenever you go to the internship you can do this and this and that, and your goal needs to be basically to insure they hire you afterwards you know.
Then you go to the company and then you have a meeting with the CEO of the company and it's like, wow!
What is it about? Pride! You're kidding me!
Personally, it's always a great impact professionally, yes! Personally, it helped me a lot and I can just be as grateful as I can.
The treatment I've had, and the help I've had with Salesforce, and thanks to Salesforce you know all these years that you have hearing these homophobic or whatever surround you and suddenly you go to a place where they value you and support you and not just that, but they escalate that so you can have higher support. It's just, wow!
There's nothing out there like this.
It's been awesome speaking with you about your experience.
Before we wrap this up, I do want to ask, given your experience what piece of advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Futureforce intern and just what makes interning at Salesforce so special?
Well I guess it's been pretty clear throughout this podcast.
There's something that you really shouldn't think about, and it's your role or whatever this role or what being an intern means somewhere else because in Salesforce it's completely different. So just don't go without prejudices, don't go asking and don't go trying to be a good intern or whatever it means outside, but just try to have a big impact.
If you want to do something which is good for the company which is good for the culture and at the end of the day it's good for the world they're going to hear you. Just go out and do it. Don't ask many questions, they're going to support you and they're going to empower you to make that happen.
At the end of the day, it will be a win, win for you. You will learn, you will be supported, you will be heard. It will help you a lot to grow and learn and you will be helping out great culture as is the Ohana!
That's my number one and number a hundred advice because I think that is super important.
So can you also tell me too how your internship at Salesforce has really helped you career wise and skill wise?
Yeah, so this is more like role related I guess. As I said, I've been a part of solution engineering, which is basically doing all the presale and designing the product for the cast members so that they can have a preview of what it's going to look like for them once they have Salesforce and to help the sales process basically.
Then, being a part of sales programs which is more analytical and just understanding every single KPI and understanding the sales targets and with those trying to create some strategies to reach those targets basically.
What I've learned here is that this role actually gave me this 360 view that I could basically learn from every single thing I was doing. From the AVC to areal feed to every business number, all those numbers are now in my head, and I was the one basically a trusted advisor of so many high stake calls over at Salesforce. They were asking me how we could improve the pipeline, how can we improve the sales numbers, how can we improve everything and you have in your mind suddenly.
One year ago I was like what does all these titles mean? What those numbers mean you know or even AOV means which is very basic once you get to Salesforce.
Right now it's like they ask me something and I have all these different strategies in my mind to just reach those targets. It's just something that you cannot just apply at Salesforce but if I were to go somewhere else I'll be able to supply those numbers for the business every single place that I am.
Career wise I guess it has given me this amazing view and for this I'm super grateful. It was not an opportunity that every single person of my age has and just of the start of your career. I had the opportunity to oversee many departments and roles and I want to think clear and I want to work with people and that is very important.
I love numbers, I love the business part, I love the technology but I want to work with people around and one of the good things at Salesforce is that you have one of the best talents out there.
Take many coffees. Have many breakfasts with people. They're always willing to do it even like people that you wouldn't think.
The other day there was an intern in Madrid now, one of the new summer interns, and they were asking to have a breakfast with the country leader and one of my colleagues was like okay so he's just two weeks in and he's trying to have a meeting it's that bad? What is he going to tell them?
They were like no, it doesn't work like that. People love talking about theirs jobs, that's a very important fact and they're going to get in to breakfast and he's going to learn so much and actually the country leader will give them another view that is very important for the business.
Don't feel like again you have a specific role with boundaries, just don't think about that, just do it and learn and have many networking coffees and people love talking about their jobs so just listen. You're going to learn a lot so you can decide after it whatever you want to do.
Well Samuel this has been an amazing conversation and I really did enjoy more about your intern experience and how you were able to help make the community around you better. So, thank you for sharing!
Thank you, it was a great time.