With a background in politics and education, UK-based mother-of-three Papya Qureshi completed the Pathfinder Program in Autumn 2022. She now works for Inardua as an Associate Consultant, and joined World Tour London on the Trailblazer Theatre stage. Here’s her story.
Hello Papya. Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and brought up in Central London in a big, close and loving Bengali family who were involved in the local community. My father and brother were involved in local politics and I followed in their footsteps, becoming a local Councillor for the City of Westminster, Westbourne Ward, from 2006 until 2022. My mother and sisters have successful careers in interior design, social work and the civil service. I studied in Manchester and Roehampton and became a qualified Primary School Teacher in 2013. I have a background in local government marketing and communications. I’m married to someone who also works in tech, and was my inspiration in the industry, and we are raising three bright, creative and adventurous girls.
How did you first hear about Salesforce?
I completed a 12-week bootcamp at Makers Academy in 2019 and saw Salesforce roles being advertised by Deloitte at our Careers Fair. Soon after, I got my first Junior Developer role, but I felt lost as there was no structure to what I was learning in a sea of languages and projects. Salesforce played on my mind and I began to research it. I assumed it was another coding language, but the more I read the more it became clear that it wasn’t. Last year, I reached out to a Makers Academy alumni, who was working in a Salesforce role. They mentored me into signing up to Salesforce and starting my first Trailhead modules and informed me about the Pathfinders program. I applied and completed the 24-week programme last Autumn.
What was your experience like during the Pathfinder program?
The Pathfinder program was a breath of fresh air for me. It had structure which I craved, we had weekly trails and a session with the Pathfinder team to discuss how we tackled the business case. On top of that, we had a coaching session every few weeks with a smaller team of pathfinders. Towards the end of the program, we were able to specialise in BA, UX or marketing (to name a few) and attempt the Admin Certification exam after a week of intense studying. I downloaded the Trailhead app on my phone so that I could still be learning if I was on the go, either picking my children up or travelling back from somewhere. It was flexible learning on another level which I had never experienced! You could work alongside the program too as the commitment was one evening and some weekly trails. The team were always on hand to discuss issues with trails, what to expect, and how to prepare for which was reassuring. We were regularly rewarded with meals and swag if we completed a milestone.
How did you use Trailhead?
Knowledge is power and that’s what Salesforce gives you with Trailhead. It is an awesome learning platform for knowledge and technical skills. For the first time, learning was flexible; I wasn’t tied down to a laptop or book. I could read and complete quiz-based trails on the go wherever I was. Trailhead revolutionised and gamified learning for me. I wanted to complete the trails to get the badge and increase my ranking. I’m always hungry to move on to the next trail of learning. Coming from a background in teaching where you needed the computer to transfer resources onto memory sticks to work, this was a total game changer for me.
How did your job hunt go?
Finding a job in a new industry can be a bumpy ride. I think networking and connecting with Trailblazers in community groups is a good idea as you never know how or where it will lead. Contacts really go a long way to finding a role. I found my job a month after completing the Pathfinder program. I got recommendations from friends on the course which led to my first role as an Associate Consultant at Inardua, a B Corp company that specialises in energy and utilities.
What does your job at Inardua entail?
I’m part of the Net Zero Cloud implementation team so there’s a lot of scope and I’m learning all the time. I’m talking with clients about Net Zero Cloud, innovating what can be done and demo-ing it to them. I’ve always chosen roles with social good and that give back, like teaching and helping the community in local government as a Councillor. Working on Net Zero Cloud I feel like I’m carrying that mission on.
Inardua values education and learning so I’m also working towards my next certification. I have a team who are supportive and engaging, and we’re encouraged to collaborate, make effective change and work with products that deliver sustainability.
Do you need soft skills in your work?
When I started at Inardua, I was on their Associate programme, which was a full 12-week immersive implementation of Sales and Service Cloud features. It was technical as I was applying a business case to build a Salesforce instance.
As the role has developed I’m bringing my full self to work and using skills I picked up with previous roles. I’m helping research companies that could benefit from using different Clouds, connecting and networking at community groups to bring back learnings to the company, and communicating with clients to show them what Salesforce can do for them.
How well did the course meet your expectations in terms of salary, job opportunities and learning new skills?
The course opened up an entire world to me. The program gives you a great insight into the capabilities of Salesforce to start your journey. I work for a start-up but we’re aware that big companies also use Salesforce and that it’s an established market, full of companies of all sizes. The Pathfinder team gave us an idea of what kind of jobs were available and we were informed when roles came up on a dedicated channel. After finishing Pathfinder, I’ve thrown myself into learning another cloud which is Net Zero Cloud, but there is no end to where your learning can go and the amount of certifications you can get.
What have you gained since participating in Pathfinder?
The Pathfinder program has carved out an exciting new career path for me and I have gained a community. I enjoy meeting up with the Women in Tech group every month and attending a host of events which allow me to network and even talk about my own experiences.
What advice would you give to someone just starting out on this path?
- You don’t need to know anything to start learning as a Trailblazer, just sign up and Salesforce will explain it all.
- Reach out to other Trailblazers or contacts you know in the community to guide and mentor you in the right direction.
- Look into the different clouds based on your past experience; chances are you’ll find one you can relate to. As a Pathfinder, we mainly worked on Sales Cloud but there’s Service Cloud, Health Cloud, Education Cloud, Experience Cloud and many more – it’s an endless list!
- Make sure you join and go to community groups. They are a great way to network, connect and learn from others and their journey.
One sentence – What’s it like working in the Salesforce Ecosystem?
I’m loving it! I’m working on a new product which feels like it’s given me a mission and really resonates with my principles.