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‘This Is My Way Out’: How a Retail Manager Used Salesforce to Land a Fulfilling Career in Tech

Quick Take:

  • While working in retail, Shakil Kamran faced numerous challenges, like 60-hour work weeks and struggling to find financial security for his growing family. 
  • His life changed when he discovered Trailhead and the Trailblazer Community through PepUp Tech, a non-profit that provides tech training to underserved communities. 
  • Today, Kamran helps businesses harness the power of generative AI.

Six years ago, Shakil Kamran felt stuck. 

While attending college full time, he worked a grueling 60 hours a week as a retail manager at an electronics store to support his wife and newborn. Together, they lived in a cramped apartment in the Bronx, not far from where he’d grown up. 

While he was getting by, it wasn’t easy. Kamran wanted more financial security than he’d had as the son of a taxi driver and homemaker, both emigrants from Bangladesh. 

He had a hunch that a tech career was the path forward, which is why he was earning a degree in computer information systems. But, he wasn’t sure how to take it to the next step.

“I knew that technology changed the world, and I wanted to be part of that, but I couldn’t figure out how to get there,” he said.

A new path forward

That changed during Kamran’s third year in college, when PepUp Tech, a non-profit committed to increasing underrepresented populations in tech, hosted a two-day bootcamp at his school. They introduced him to Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform. Kamran was hooked. “It’s free, it’s readily accessible, it’s gamified, it’s fun, it’s hands-on — it was life-changing,” he said. 

Kamran started taking courses on Trailhead after school and work, from midnight until two in the morning. He learned about the Salesforce platform, as well as soft skills, such as how to give feedback. “This is my way out,” he thought.

Kamran wanted to delve deeper into Salesforce by attending Dreamforce, the company’s annual global conference, but was struggling to find a way to make it work. In the end though, he took the leap and decided to attend.

“I didn’t know exactly what was out there, but I knew I made the right decision,” he said. “I took a bet on myself and, more importantly, I took a bet on Salesforce.” 

I took a bet on myself and, more importantly, I took a bet on Salesforce.

The power of community

At what he called “Disney World for techies,” Kamran learned even more about Salesforce’s innovations and made life-long connections with other Trailblazers. Soon after, a contact he met at Dreamforce offered him a job as a remote Salesforce sales consultant with Now IT Matters, a tech consulting firm based in Montana. It was the start of a fulfilling career trajectory that landed Kamran in his current role: Strategic Alliances Manager for North America at AllCloud, where he helps clients harness the power of generative AI.  

Kamran credits the Trailblazer Community – a global network of millions who help each other learn new skills and thrive within the Salesforce ecosystem – with helping to propel his career forward. 

“I am where I am today because of that community,” he said. “You have access not just to resources, training, and knowledge, but they’re there to help you glow and grow — they are your champions.”

I am where I am today because of that community,” he said. “You have access not just to resources, training, and knowledge, but they’re there to help you glow and grow — they are your champions.

That community-minded sentiment resonated, and even inspired Kamran. Kamran has since spent several years volunteering with PepUp Tech, the organization that set him on his career journey, by teaching Salesforce basics at underserved colleges. “Salesforce changed my life, and I wanted to change people’s lives,” he said.

Continuous learning powered by AI

Being a Trailblazer also helped Kamran see how technology can shape the future — and today, nothing is more top-of-mind for him and his colleagues than AI. 

IDC predicts the Salesforce economy, powered by AI, will generate a net gain of $2.02 trillion in worldwide business revenues and 11.6 million jobs worldwide between 2022 and 2028.

Kamran and his team continue to use Trailhead to stay informed on the latest trends and technology, including artificial intelligence. He’s completed Trails like the fundamentals of generative AI, optimizing data set usage, and prompt writing, and he uses that knowledge to help his clients.

“We’re trying to figure out how to leverage AI and CRM to help our customers and partners make processes better and faster on a foundation of trust,” he said. “When you’re thinking about sustainability and scalability, you’re thinking about AI.” 

A generational impact

In the meantime, Kamran credits his experience on Trailhead and in the Salesforce ecosystem with transforming his and his family’s quality of life. 

He went from renting a one-bedroom apartment to purchasing a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house. Kamran’s jobs have taken him on business trips all over the world – everywhere including Canada, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic. He has also taken his wife and two sons on vacations to Paris, London, and Niagara Falls. 

“For me, Trailhead and Salesforce made a generational impact,” he said. “They changed the trajectory of my entire family tree.”

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