There is a quirky Salesforce community event which brings together Salesforce, surfing and saving the planet - right here in the U.K! I caught up with the characters behind this true embodiment of Trailblazer spirit to hear their story, and what's in store at this year's event in Cornwall. 


1. Can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do for a job? 


Shaun Holmes: I am currently the COO of Taskfeed, A Customer Onboarding Project management Application on the Salesforce AppExchange. You can catch me on Twitter: @ShaunHolmless

Marcelle Braithwaite:  I’m currently a Customer Solutions Lead with a IS Partner, CloudShift. Find me on Twitter: @marcelleau

We are also lucky enough to have the incredible Scott Gassmann (@scottgassmann) Senior Solution Architect, ISV Partner Skedulo, recently awarded Salesforce MVP Kerry Townsend (@KerryTownsend) who is an Associate Manager at Accenture and wonderful Michael Wheeler (@mickwheelz_), Software Engineer at OVO Energy on the team.


2. How and when did you get involved in the Salesforce Trailblazer Community?


Marcelle: I was a total newbie at Salesforce so I think within 6 months I was posting questions in the Community Chatter groups. Over the coming years I started attending User Groups in Brisbane and ended up Co-Leading the Brisbane Admin User Group and Brisbane Women in Tech User Group (Shout out to the incredible Aussie crew!) 

Shaun: It was not even a thing when I first got involved with Salesforce User Groups  through ForceWest, which was initiated by Gary McGeorge and run very successfully by Amy Grenham of Desynit, a system integrations partner based in Bristol. The UG’s ran monthly and I met so many wonderful people, learned so many amazing tips and tricks that I decided to focus my entire energy on building my career within the Salesforce community, and what an exciting adventure it has been!

Kerry: I attended my first User Group almost 10yrs ago when they were organised by the Customer Success Team. I got to know the community as it is now when I moved to London. The people are so talented and inspiring I can’t imagine not being involved. This Surf Force team is a very special passionate group who take on a challenge that most wouldn’t.


3. Surf Force is happening in a few months. I’ve got to ask Surfing & Salesforce, what is that, and how did that come about? 


Shaun: I was looking for a way to contribute to the Salesforce community in a meaningful way. My day job is business focused (Sales, Growth etc) so I found it tough to find community events where I could use my skills to help others (most talks are very Admin/Dev oriented). After a long walk and talk with Erica Kuhl, she suggested finding an authentic way to leverage my passions (surfing and the ocean), much like the folks at SnowForce Utah have. It dawned on me that there must be a number of surfers, and people wanting to learn to surf and then participate in educational sessions too, in the Salesforce community. Surfboards are awash within Salesforce itself (so it is not too risky) and Surf Force was born. 

Surf Force has evolved from its primary focus of introducing new people into Salesforce to now having a Tech & Ocean Awareness theme. Single-use plastics issue is a challenge and we as a tech community need to educate and encourage each other in long-term behavioral changes. On a positive note, job creation will come with these as we tackle new challenges and I believe the tech sector and the Salesforce community can create amazing products to help us make better decisions as consumers.

Kerry: I got involved with Surf Force during a period of time I was off work. It was a difficult time, Shaun would call me regularly, he would run ideas past me and ask my opinion. It allowed my to feel like I was contributing. I know he did it to check that I was ok, it helped with my recovery and I will be eternally grateful. The people who organise this are some of the kindest you will meet and this event has real heart. 



4. What can we expect at this year's event?


Marcelle: Haha well the name gives one part away - there will be a surf of course (but seriously it’s optional). But, don’t be fooled by the name, there is so much more than just surfing! I like to think we are the Salesforce Community's answer to a Tedx Event.

Shaun: 3 primary outcomes:

  1. You will be disgusted as you participate in a beach cleanup activity.
  2. You will be amazed by the beauty of the waves and the ocean as you participate in a surfing lesson.
  3. You will be educated about how you can change your behaviour by amazing people who focus on these issues and help our environment.

As this is a tech event, we will of course also have an amazing lineup of fantastic industry experts who will leave you inspired and eager to make a difference in your day.

Kerry: We are keeping people together as much as possible this year as we got feedback that it was something attendees really valued.


5. How do I get involved?


Marcelle: Well we’d love to see you down in Newquay this year with us...It’s a beautiful place & I definitely would suggest you make your Surf Force experience a weekend long trip (bring the whole fam bam) Register here:

If you can’t make the event, I think we’d all ask one thing - please consider your own personal single use plastic consumption. Take the reusable cup, refillable bottle and say no to the plastic straw. Even small but consistent actions will  make a difference.

Kerry: If you have a Salesforce idea you would like to share with the community at the event, please submit it here. Don’t worry that someone has talked about it before, we all benefit from a different perspective. 



6. You must put huge amounts of effort into running the event. On a personal level, what drives that? 


Marcelle: I love having the opportunity to work with this passionate bunch to produce an event that I really believe in. We can educate our community about our Oceans and how collectively we can make a difference. What's more motivating than that? 

I’d want to attend this event if I wasn’t apart of it! 

Shaun: I am so lucky to have been blessed with a wonderful family, a supportive employer, and friends that laugh at me when I fall, but more importantly pick me up and encourage me to persevere through the hard times. Surf Force allows me to be that friend to the Salesforce community and to share my passion for surfing, the sea, and technology with them too.

Kerry: As I mentioned before this is truly a great team and I am proud that we have big goals and we are out there trying to achieve them. We have all had times when we have been told or thought it can’t work. 


7. In three words, describe Surf Force...


Marcelle:  Unique. Intimate. Informative.

Shaun: Marcelle stole all mine so I’ll go with Educational, challenging and fun. 

Kerry: Bold. Heartfelt. Life-affirming 


8. Finally, what is the one Trailhead trail everyone should complete before Surf Force? 


Shaun: Whilst Trailhead is packed with hands-on Salesforce training, there is so much great content beyond that. So with the goals of Surf Force in mind, it would have to be World's Largest Lesson—The Global Goals


And that's a wrap and roll (with a plastic-free wrapper of course!). So grab your boarding shorts, your laptop and your sense of adventure and I hope to meet you down in Newquay on July 13th-14th