After more than a decade supporting Salesforce’s Chair & Co-CEO Marc Benioff, Joe Poch was taking a well-deserved sabbatical in Italy.
He was in awe of the incredible architecture, and inspired by many of the Italian structures he visited. It got him thinking about the company’s newest venture Trailblazer Ranch, and he knew he had to be a part of it.
Sorry, did we hear that right — Trailblazer Ranch?
In February of this year, Salesforce announced Trailblazer Ranch – an inclusive gathering space for Salesforce employees to come together for offsites, training, and other programming. It is, in many ways, designed to make up for time lost connecting in person during the last two years of the pandemic. Trailblazer Ranch is going to help support the company’s future growth and scale its culture.
“Culture is our greatest competitive advantage — it engages our people, drives the creation of our innovative products, and ultimately, helps our customers succeed. With Trailblazer Ranch, we’re igniting our culture for our next chapter,” said Chief People Officer Brent Hyder in the company’s announcement.
From RNA to ranch
Building and operationalizing a ranch for 73,000 employees is no small feat.
While Poch might not have experience building a ranch (who does?), he knows Salesforce like the back of his hand, and draws on his non-linear career path to shape Salesforce’s investment in its employees and culture.
Poch graduated with a Master’s in Biology, conducting studies on gene flow and then going into clinical trials for a medical device company. After a few years working in the medical field, however, Poch was looking for a change. When the opportunity presented itself at Salesforce to work in Marc Benioff’s office, he knew he had to take it.
While he was new to the technology industry, he felt well-positioned to take on a new challenge.
“It was uncomfortable at first and I didn’t know technology,” Poch said. “But my role and background in biology helped me. In biology, you are always researching and trying new things, and those are skills you need to be successful at Salesforce.”
In biology, you are always researching and trying new things, and those are skills you need to be successful at Salesforce.
Poch spent 12 years leading the Office of the CEO, before he again got the itch for another opportunity. Around the same time, he heard about Trailblazer Ranch – or, as he puts it, “Marc’s brainchild.” He felt a spark and realized there was a massive opportunity in helping bring this vision to life.
In April 2021, he earned the unique title as head of Salesforce’s Trailblazer Ranch Experience.
Trailblazer Ranch, now and in the future
The interim Trailblazer Ranch at 1440 Multiversity in Scotts Valley, California began piloting programming for employees in March and will open its doors to employees, the community and Trailblazers later this year.
“As we’ve navigated the new world of work over the past two years, we’ve listened and learned from our employees along the way,” Poch shared. “What we’ve heard from them is that they miss being together and forming connections with each other and our culture. Our offices are an important part of coming together to collaborate and meet as teams, but we’re also thinking of new opportunities to connect, get inspired, and give back to the community.”
Our offices are an important part of coming together to collaborate and meet as teams, but we’re also thinking of new opportunities to connect, get inspired, and give back to the community.
According to Salesforce employee survey results, one in three employees have reported high levels of work-related stress and one in four are at high risk of burnout. Additionally, only seven in ten employees think the pace of work is sustainable. Trailblazer Ranch is designed to help solve some of these work-related challenges.
“Our goal for Trailblazer Ranch is to focus on areas where we can have the biggest impact and support people and teams who need it most,” Poch added. “Some of these groups include employees who are feeling disconnected, people who shifted roles or came over from acquired companies, new people leaders, or teams that have recently gone through a re-org.”
Every session will have unique programming to help employees connect with Salesforce’s values, culture and each other.
“We are just two months into piloting Trailblazer Ranch and our programming,” Poch said. “Already, we’ve had incredible feedback – employees who come leave feeling renewed, refreshed and reinvigorated. We’re experimenting and learning a lot and we’re looking forward to bringing even more of our community to the ranch.”
To learn more about the ranch, check out this announcement.