How Individual Contributors Can Have a Transformative Global Impact

by Valerie Nadi
 
In May 2018, Salesforce completed its acquisition of MuleSoft, one of the world's leading platforms for building application networks. With MuleSoft, Salesforce can accelerate their customers’ digital transformation efforts, enabling them to unlock data across legacy systems, cloud apps, and devices. In this blog, we feature Salesforce Regional Lead – Account Development Adheeb Rifdi, who specialises in the MuleSoft product from the London office.
 

Often, when someone describes their life as a “whirlwind,” it’s poetic but not entirely accurate. Nevertheless, Salesforce Regional Lead Adheeb Rifdi — who was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, moved to Canada and now resides in London — wears that description comfortably.

With an undergraduate degree in finance, Adheeb was heading towards a career in banking but realised that wasn’t the life he wanted. So, he took a graduate degree in management, which opened his eyes to opportunities in tech. While backpacking in Indonesia, a former colleague’s post on Facebook kickstarted his journey to MuleSoft.

“I’d found the right fit. I moved to London in under three weeks. I couldn’t have thought of a better place to start my career.”

 

Shape how companies interact with customers and employees

As an application and data integration platform, MuleSoft is pivotal to the digital transformation efforts of companies. This immediately elevates sales conversations to the executive levels of an organisation — including the C-suite.

“We're always talking about something that's transformative to the organisation. We ask, ‘How are you delivering great experiences to customers and internal and external stakeholders?’ The leaders are all ears.”

Adheeb on Komodo Island in Indonesia

Case in point: the CEO of a large pharmaceutical company in the UK wanted to create a great place to work. The firm had clunky HR systems that didn’t deliver an engaging experience to employees as they worked, and changed roles or locations.

MuleSoft created an integration layer through a single mobile app, which serves the company’s global offices and integrates 76 applications across its environment. With it, people can book parking spaces, meeting rooms, and time off, in addition to HR services.

Through interactions with senior executives across industries, Adheeb offers this advice:

  • Develop a Point of View

“With any customer, but especially executives, you have to give before you take. Don’t approach them without first learning about their business from the employees' point of view. Then you can start a conversation knowing what their pain points are and how you can help. Otherwise you're just wasting their time.”

  • Understand the Business of Verticals

“Take advantage of the internal knowledge your company has. Don’t hesitate to reach out to senior leaders for their insights so you can build a relevant point of view about how to address industry challenges.”

Acquisitions present transformational opportunities

Once under the Salesforce umbrella, acquired companies grow quickly, which presents opportunities to create new strategies, processes, and roles. This means that even relatively junior individual contributors (ICs) can work on influential projects. But there’s one caveat, which Adheeb explains:

“When you’re in a sales role, your quota matters. If you want more responsibility and to become involved in projects outside your role, you have to ask for it. Your supervisors won’t give you more until they know you’re comfortable consistently hitting your number.”

For example, Adheeb worked on a small team that revamped the company’s sales qualification criteria.

“Account development is right at the top of the funnel. If we correct something there, it has downstream effects on the entire organisation and our bottom line. That opportunity existed because MuleSoft was growing very fast. We need to constantly evolve in order to adapt to the needs of our business, employees, and customers.”

Adheeb managing the MuleSoft demo booth at Dreamforce 2018

Win big for the team

As Adheeb became comfortable with his role and what it required, he realised his sales quota was more than simply his “number.” Behind whatever success he had was a cross-functional account team, and he’s made it a priority to acknowledge the importance of its role. The realisation also convinced Adheeb that more could be done to increase account team collaboration. 

“Our team is very capable of hitting their quotas on an IC basis, but much more could be done to improve the cross-functional aspect of the job. That’s why I want to move into management.”

Adheeb sees the Sales Development Representative (SDR) and Account Development Representative (ADR) roles as talent engines for the company. SDRs and ADRs have the opportunity to speak with people throughout the organisation and learn what the business requires. He also suggests that real growth occurs outside one’s comfort zone.

“When I joined MuleSoft, I wanted to work in financial services because I was comfortable with it. But my manager said, ‘Okay, cool, you’re not doing that. Do something you’re not comfortable with.’ That really stretched me. I had to learn a lot very quickly. Now, I’m going to lead the team I originally wanted to join.”

Voluntary time off — the 1-1-1 model in action

The Salesforce approach to philanthropy, known as the 1-1-1 Model, dedicates one percent of Salesforce equity, products and employee time — to serving communities around the world.
Adheeb and the UK team volunteering with Crisis at Christmas

Adheeb uses his voluntary time off (VTO) to support Hackney Pirates, which helps children with learning disabilities who fall behind at school. Its approach is creative and unusual.

“It’s very interactive. The kids do things like write books and scripts for movies. You’re paired with a new child each time, so they become comfortable building relationships with different people in a safe space.”

If Adheeb’s journey has sparked your interest, then let us know you’d like to learn more about a career at Salesforce. Or if you’re already convinced, apply for a role today!

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