On Thursday 25th June, I was thrilled to welcome over 40 leading Hi-Tech companies into the Salesforce Trailblazer Community – accompanied by a British Olympic hero no less – at the inaugural Salesforce UK&I Hi-Tech Trailblazer Community Event.

On what was the hottest day of the year so far, it would’ve been pleasant for this event to be at a sophisticated location with a cold drink in our hands. However, in the new normal, it was still fantastic to be able to celebrate the beginning of a burgeoning new community virtually.

Our goal for this event was to provide the platform to connect customers in our Hi-Tech accounts, further develop their network with like minded people, and to start fostering the sort of community spirit that has proven so valuable to all Salesforce Trailblazers. 

The Hi-Tech industry is at the cutting edge of technology, and businesses are characterised by constant change and innovation. These are the disruptors delivering superior customer experiences and advanced solutions across a range of sectors. As such, I believe that the community will provide a great opportunity for Trailblazers to grow their business, become influencers, and build on their own success. 



The power to pivot with Concentra

I was delighted to welcome Alistair Birrell, Operations Director at Concentra Analytics, who shared his experiences of how Concentra has been adapting to the aforementioned new normal. You can learn more about how Salesforce recently enabled the SaaS analytics company to pivot quickly in my next article, but I believe it served as a good example of the way the community can discuss what is trending in technology, and share ways to use Salesforce more effectively in their own organisation. 

I’m proud to say there has been plenty of precedent on that front in the 14 years since we held our first community group meeting. Of those engaging in the Trailblazer Community, 90% agree it has helped them increase innovation. Moreover, 73% say being a member has helped build their network, with nearly half (49%) saying it has been useful to help develop leadership skills and understand new career paths.

While a useful way to exchange ideas, vote for new features, collaborate and find answers from knowledgeable peers, I believe most of all that the Trailblazer Community offers the chance to give something back, and have fun in a welcoming culture filled with interesting people.


Inspiration and resilience with Dame Kelly Holmes

On that note, the event was headlined by a very special guest speaker – Olympic gold medallist and motivational speaker and one of my heroes, Dame Kelly Holmes DBE. Although Dame Kelly is best known as an international athlete (in particular her medal winning performances at the 2004 Summer Olympics at Athens), she has accomplished a great deal more, not least serving ten years in the British Army alongside her sporting career, where she reached the rank of sergeant (and later appointed Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment in 2018).

Despite retiring from athletics 16 years ago, Dame Kelly doesn’t appear to have slowed down. She has launched her own charity, acted as National School Sport Champion to mentor school children, and more recently, launched her own employee fitness and wellbeing app. The latter has brought together a lifetime of personal training instructor experience, as well as presented the opportunity to share her own challenges with her mental health.

There was a great deal Trailblazers could take from Dame Kelly’s talk, particularly while we are all navigating such uncertain times. This included having the right mindset to pick yourself up and go again (her sporting career was often blighted by injury), reinventing yourself, and adapting what you are doing. Like all of us, Dame Kelly has had to negotiate a new world of Zoom meetings, along with getting to grips with social media live streaming.

She also talked about resilience, something we all need and are probably struggling with in the current professional and personal environment. Having tackled depression, along with dealing with the extreme highs and lows that come with both military service and top-level sport, she knows better than many the importance of staying positive, determined, and motivated. Persistence has played a huge part in Dame Kelly’s successes over the years. If she can overcome mental health issues and ruptured calf muscles and still go on to be a medal winner, I think we can all learn something from that.

I’d like to thank everybody who took the time to join the event, and for those of you who dutifully wore their Trailblazer hoodies, even in 30+ degree heat. I look forward to seeing how the Hi-Tech community will continue to grow from here and I hope next time, it will be at one of our Campfire or Dreamforce events, or even one the community has organised itself!