Wed, 13 February 2019
Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we have another great PepUp Tech story from Sasha Manford, Salesforce Admin at Carl Marks Advisors. We get a chance to hear her amazing career story and how she moved from a power user to a full-blown admin.
Join us as we talk about building your career, Selina Suarez’s amazing mentorship, and the entrepreneurial spirit you need to be a great Salesforce admin.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Sasha Manford.
The Salesforce Princess.
Like many admins, “my journey to Salesforce started accidentally,” Sasha says. She was working at a company that really invested in employee training and happened to use Salesforce to keep track of everything. “I remember the first day of orientation I was so enamored with the platform,” she says. She took to it quickly as a user, and when the previous admin left she took over the role. It came with a great new nickname: the Salesforce Princess.
As a new admin, Sasha needed a lot of help to get started, “but that’s the great thing about the Salesforce ecosystem—everybody wants to help you out,” she says. Between Trailhead and user groups, she felt fully supported by the community as she grew into her new role. Her company had major struggles with Salesforce, however, so after about a year, she had to leave her position. Before that, however, Sasha attended a Women in Tech User Group meeting where she met Selina Suarez.
The amazing mentorship of Selina Suarez and PepUp Tech.
As soon as Sasha told Selina her story, “she immediately was like, ‘Here’s my number, text me, come to the Word Tour and find me.’” When she went to that event (on her birthday!), Selina took her around and introduced her to just about everybody. “It was the most magical day of my life,” she says, and just like that Sasha was signed up for the Spring semester of the PepUp Tech Bootcamp.
Sasha actually got a job before class had even begun, in part thanks to a book Selina recommended called Knock ‘em Dead. Even though she had a Salesforce position, the bootcamp was super valuable. “I was able to learn a lot of stuff I never knew I was able to do on the platform,” she says.
Currently, Sasha is a Salesforce admin at Carl Marks Advisors, a financial services firm. When she was interviewing, she was nervous because she only had a year of admin experience under her belt. Throughout the process, however, Selina was like a guiding angel. “I told Selina that they’re wary of me because I don’t have my certification,” she says, “and Selina was like, ‘Who cares? Read the book, study up on the company, and knock ‘em dead.’”
The keys to being an awesome admin (it’s not just your tech skills).
“Being a Salesforce admin I feel like I’ve grown so much—it’s helped me have a voice,” Sasha says. “Being an admin, you really have to have an entrepreneurial spirit,” she says, “you’re in charge of the platform, you are the guru, you are the expert.” Because of that, you’re in charge of your own work and responsible for your own growth. “People look to me for help, and to me, that’s the biggest achievement ever,” she says.
After getting the job, Sasha started immediately looking for problems that needed to be solved to prove that they hired the right person. She fixed her company’s Box integration, created custom dashboards for a user, and generated a timeline to clean up their instance.
Moving forward, Sasha is focusing on the finer points of being a great admin. “A lot of people think that being an admin is technical; it’s technical but you also have to have really great people skills,” she says. “You’re going to be dealing with a lot of people who have different personalities who don’t want to use the platform, and you have to persuade them.” It’s challenging, but it also means that there’s something to look forward to every day at work.
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins podcast where we talk about product, community, and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I'm Gillian Bruce. Today we have another great PepUp Tech story for you.
Gillian Bruce: This story is from Sasha Manford, who I got the opportunity to meet and chat with at the world tour in New York City in December. She has an amazing story to share. She has an incredible career story that I'm excited to get her on the podcast to talk more about, to help inspire all of us listeners, but also some really good tips about how to be a great admin. So without further ado, let's get Sasha on the podcast.
Gillian Bruce: Sasha, welcome to the podcast.
Sasha Manford: Are we recording?
Gillian Bruce: Yes, we are. You are live.
Sasha Manford: Thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you so much for coming up and taking the time to chat with me.
Sasha Manford: Of course, of course.
Gillian Bruce: We are here in New York City, which ... I'm here for the world tour, and this is where you work and call home. That is awesome. Yeah. I wanted to get you in the podcast because you've got a great story and I want to definitely dig in and just start sharing that with our listeners. But before we get into all that, I'd love to start with the question, Sasha, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Sasha Manford: When I was little, I was really fortunate to go to really good public school. One of my favorite teachers was my fourth grade teacher, Ms. Derulo, and her teaching style ... I looked forward to going to her class all the time and I wanted to become a teacher because of her.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, that's awesome. That is great. So you wanted to be a teacher, and now you are working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Connect the dots for me. Tell me a little bit more about your journey.
Sasha Manford: My journey to Salesforce started accidentally. I was working at this startup company called [On the Roam. 00:00:02:09] The bread and butter of the company is presentation training and public speaking. But I love that they had a message that they wanted to train everybody to be confident and to basically get over themselves and realize that in life, it's not all about you. It's about what kind of message you're delivering.
Sasha Manford: I was there, and they used Salesforce to track different deals that they were working on; different clients they were working on. I remember the first day of orientation I was so enamored by the platform, I said, "Wow."
Sasha Manford: While everybody else was stumbling, I was able to pick up on how to enter an account, had to enter a contact. My favorite part to this day is running reports. I love running reports and creating dashboards is especially enlightening. It's just, for me, a magical experience.
Sasha Manford: When the admin left at that company, I kind of took on the role. I started learning through Trailhead, and also going to different user groups as well, meeting with different peers who knew the platform so well and were willing to help me out.
Sasha Manford: That's the great thing about the Salesforce ecosystem. Everybody wants to help you out. Nobody is like, "Oh no, I'm not going to teach you. You're going to steal my role." No, it's not like that at all. Everybody is super friendly and willing to help you out.
Sasha Manford: I was there for about a year. It was challenging because the adoption was hard, and of course you run into issues like data integrity. Because it was such a small company, they found Salesforce to be a beast, a monster, so unfortunately I got let go around January of this year actually.
Sasha Manford: But before that, I met Selina at a women in tech user group.
Gillian Bruce: Selina Suarez?
Sasha Manford: Selina Suarez, yes, the founder of PepUp Tech. Before I went to the user group meeting, I did my research on her and I did my research on PepUp Tech. I'm like, "Wow, I wish this was around when I was learning Salesforce."
Sasha Manford: But of course with Salesforce, you never stop learning. There's so much to learn.
Gillian Bruce: So much. It's a huge platform.
Sasha Manford: It's a huge, huge platform. When I went there, I met her. I told her my story. She immediately was like, "Here's my number. Text me, come to the world tour. Look for me at the world tour." And I did, I went to the world tour. I remember it was on my birthday last year. It was the most magical day of my life.
Sasha Manford: Selina immediately grabs me by the hand and was like, "Here, this is x, y, z. This is this person. Get to know this person." She just took me in. She told me like, registration for the spring class, "We'll be opening up soon and you should register for it."
Sasha Manford: A couple months went by. She also recommended a book called Knock 'em Dead, which also helped me land my job, my current role, actually. I read that book through and through, and it helped me do really well at my current job, because I went through six rounds of interviews and three technical tests.
Gillian Bruce: That's a lot of hoops to jump through.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, a lot of hoops. Because you know, they don't want to just hire anybody. They really wanted to make sure I knew my stuff. Through that process I had spoke to Selina. She helped me out, and I was able to land the job before I started PepUp Tech class.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: I kind of did it backwards. I did PepUp Tech. I did the boot camp while I was a newbie at my job. Through the boot camp I was able to learn a lot of stuff that I never knew I could do within the platform.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. So, you started basically as a user of Salesforce.
Sasha Manford: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that as a user you were already in love with running reports and using dashboards, because I always feel like that's ... If you see a user who's like really about that, it's like, "Oh, that's a sign. Maybe they want to be an admin someday."
Sasha Manford: Exactly, yeah. It's something else. The platform is really something. There's so much you can do with it, and the fact that you can customize it ... I know if I was a sales manager using Salesforce, I would be totally motivated to use it every single day.
Sasha Manford: I would be curious to see how my teammate is doing, and that would motivate me to bring in more deals.
Gillian Bruce: Right, and just have that, be able to bring in all that data. Oh, I totally get you. And the little competitive side inside of me would be like, "Are they getting more deals? Oh, I'm going to get more. Let's track it every day." Right?
Sasha Manford: Exactly. Let's track it every day. Let's run a report. Let's do pivot tables afterwards. I love that stuff. It makes me excited. I love data and I just love Salesforce. It's the greatest thing ever.
Gillian Bruce: I see the stars in your eyes.
Sasha Manford: The stars really aligned for me because when I graduated from college, I wasn't landing anything ... Not substantial, but I was very stagnant. It was like support roles and assistant roles.
Sasha Manford: I wasn't growing, I wasn't learning anything. But with this being a Salesforce Admin, I feel like I've grown so much, and it's helped me have a voice as well. I'm just so grateful, I can't believe. Sometimes I wake up, I'm like, "Wow, this is my life."
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. So tell me ... You just said. It helps you kind of have a voice as well. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, so I feel like being an admin, you really have to have an entrepreneurial spirit, because you're in charge of the platform and you are the guru, you are the expert. You have no one to rely on to teach you stuff. People come to you to teach you. I feel like it's ... For so long I've been looking for a role that could help me grow and take on my own tasks and stuff.
Sasha Manford: I basically create my own day and my own week, and it makes me feel like I'm accomplishing something. Also, I get to help people and kind of teach people, in a way, kind of. I'm a teacher. People look to me for help. To me, that's the biggest achievement ever.
Sasha Manford: When I am teaching someone new in the company how to use Salesforce and their eyes light up like "Oh my God, you can do that?" To me, that feels amazing.
Gillian Bruce: Well, I mean it goes back to what you wanted to be when you grew up back in forth grade, getting inspired by that teacher.
Sasha Manford: My teacher in fourth grade, she was amazing and she always told me, "Yeah, grades are important, but that doesn't measure your smartness and your ability to do well in life."
Sasha Manford: And she always told me, she's like, "I know you're going to do all ..." Because I did struggle with math a little bit, but she always encouraged me all the time. She is the best.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. I mean I love how somebody that early in your life can really ... Still you carry that with you and it's helped empower you to basically take on this career.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, she definitely empowered me. She did.
Gillian Bruce: Tell me, I want to dig in also a little bit more to the piece of your story of how you got this job even before you had completed the PepUp Tech bootcamp. You had kind of been figuring out Salesforce on your own with Trailhead, after you moved into that admin role. Actually, I may even want to go back to that too.
Gillian Bruce: So, you were a super user essentially at your organization. The admin role opened up. How did you get that role? Did you ask for it? Did you seek it out? Tell me a little bit more about that.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, when I found out that the admin was leaving, it was kind of like ... Sasha will take it on. I heard conversations about it, but I'm like, "You know what? I'm going to take it on. I'm going to be the admin. I'll do it. It seems really, really easy to use."
Sasha Manford: Then within like two months, everybody's like, "Yeah, that's the Salesforce princess there."
Gillian Bruce: Oh, I love that.
Sasha Manford: That was my nickname, the Salesforce princess. People came to me for everything.
Gillian Bruce: That's fantastic. I'm envisioning a little Salesforce tiara.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, yeah. One of my coworkers, she Photoshopped the picture with on with me on it with like the Salesforce cloud crown, and she put it in the refrigerator in the kitchen.
Gillian Bruce: That's great.
Sasha Manford: I was like, "Okay, then I really have to take this on."
Gillian Bruce: Well that's great, because another thing that we kind of talk about, especially as you're growing your career is like putting, making, creating your brand, making people aware this is like ... You want to be tied to Salesforce. You want to be a Salesforce admin.
Gillian Bruce: That's really cool that that happened kind of organically within that organization.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, it manifested big time.
Gillian Bruce: Talk to me about getting your ... What do you do now?
Sasha Manford: Right now I'm a Salesforce admin at Carl Marx Advisors. It's a financial service firm. They deal with all types of companies that are going through bankruptcy, restructuring, wealth management. It's just a whole cycle of things that they do within the financial industry.
Gillian Bruce: I bet that's a lot of complex systems and processes to manage.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, a lot of financial vocabulary that I'm still like, "What is that? What is CRO? What does 363 mean?"
Gillian Bruce: Well, that on top of the Salesforce jargon, so you've got two languages. You're trilingual.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, exactly. I've always wanted to learn different languages, and this role is allowing me to do so.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. You said that you got this role even before kind of going through the bootcamp and all that. Tell me more about that. You mentioned a little bit about the Knock 'em Dead and how that helped you. Tell me more about that process.
Sasha Manford: I feel like if I didn't meet Selina in December and she didn't guide me and recommend that book, I don't know if I would have landed this role. I mean, even though I didn't do the bootcamp, even though I got the job first, then the bootcamp, I feel like she was my guardian angel carrying me before I took the classes.
Sasha Manford: I actually had a recruiter that reached out to me and she was just like, "Here's a great role for you. It's located in New York. It's in the financial service industry. They are a little like wary because you only have a year under your belt."
Sasha Manford: But I literally read that book. I told Selina like, "They are wary of me because I don't have my certification. I only have a year under my belt. And she just was like, "Who cares? Read the book, study up on the company, and knock 'em dead. You got this."
Sasha Manford: She guided me. She really did guide me. If it wasn't for a guidance, I don't know where I would be right now.
Gillian Bruce: That's amazing. Because I mean, it takes a lot of courage to kind of go for that, and knowing that you're being like ... Maybe a little extra scrutiny, but yet you got it.
Sasha Manford: I did it.
Gillian Bruce: Congratulations, by the way. Very cool.
Sasha Manford: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: I imagine you probably felt a fair amount of pressure starting the job, right? Trying to prove yourself and kind of get things going. What are some of the first kind of quick wins, or things that you were able to get done to kind of say, "Hey, I got this." To show to everyone that they hired the right person.
Sasha Manford: Right. They had issues with the Box integration. It wasn't showing up in the Salesforce records. I noticed that within day two. I was like, all right, I'm going to tackle this, and I'm going to fix it. So I called up Box, they guided me through it, and I was able to fix that.
Sasha Manford: Another user was having issues with showing that he's actually going to different clients and he's meeting with them, but they wanted to see what's going on.
Sasha Manford: I was able to create this beautiful dashboard for him.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, I love those dashboards skills coming in handy.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, dashboard skills came through. I created that for him and they were just like, "Wow, that's amazing." Then also I kind of assessed the entire platform, identified the issues, what needs to be done, and a timeline for them as well.
Sasha Manford: I think that's a win. Fully assessing ... Obsessing ... Assessing the platform.
Gillian Bruce: Well, you obsess over the platform and then it lets you assess correctly.
Sasha Manford: Right. Obsess and that assess.
Gillian Bruce: It's just a good one, two, one, two right there. That's really great. I mean, what I hear when I hear you say that is that you came in really trying to look for problems that needed to be solved and talking to users and figuring out kind of some misses there.
Gillian Bruce: I mean I think that's one of the qualities that makes an amazing admin, is being able to identify problems and connecting with users.
Sasha Manford: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: And then having the curiosity and the tenacity to go out and figure it out and implement the solution.
Sasha Manford: Exactly, yeah. A lot of people think like, "Oh, being an admin is technical." It's technical. We also have to have really good people skills.
Gillian Bruce: Absolutely.
Sasha Manford: Because you're going to be dealing with a lot of people who have different personalities who don't want to use the platform, and you have to persuade them, and you have to be flexible too, that is key.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. I think that's a really good point because adoption and training is one of the hardest pieces of this puzzle.
Sasha Manford: It's really hard, and I'm still dealing with it, but it's exciting because there's something to look forward to everyday at work.
Sasha Manford: I have this one user who's just like anti Salesforce. I'm just like ... He excites me because he makes my job challenging, but that's a good thing. I'm convinced that I will convert him next year. That's on my goal. He's going to be converted.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Well, let us know. We will cheer along with you.
Sasha Manford: Me too.
Gillian Bruce: That's awesome. Okay, so you're now in this role. You are rocking it as a Salesforce admin. What's next for you? What's the next step in your plan?
Sasha Manford: My next step is to continue to learn the platform inside out, be a complete expert. Then hopefully I would love to get into the developing side, because we have ... I'm dying for us to go to Lightning, but a lot of our components in Classic don't transfer to Lightning, and I just don't want to rely on the developer. I want to be the developer. I want to be the one stop shop for everything. I would love to get into development.
Gillian Bruce: We got plenty of resources to help you do that. That's exciting. I love that though. Yeah. I mean to be able to be completely independent and be able to make those changes and really own the platform end to end.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, it's important. Not only are you learning how to code and owning the platform, you ... I want to own it. I want it to be like, that's my baby. It's my baby now, but I want it to be completely my child.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. I want to own all of it.
Sasha Manford: Like, "That's mine." I love it. I love that people come to me if they have a Salesforce question. They come to me in distress and I'm just like, "Calm down. It's going to get fixed." Then I fixed it and they're like, "Okay, we get it. Thank you-"
Gillian Bruce: Because you're the Salesforce princess.
Sasha Manford: Yes, I am the queen.
Gillian Bruce: The queen. Yeah.
Sasha Manford: I own it. Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. I love that. Well, Sasha, you've done some amazing things. I'm super excited to see what's next for you. I want to know, what is some advice you have for folks who are maybe early on in their Salesforce career, or looking for that for Salesforce job, because you've been there. What are some tips you have for people in that position?
Sasha Manford: I say don't only sit behind your computer and Google stuff. Go to user group meetings. Go on Linkedin. Find someone who's in the ecosystem. Invite them to coffee. Have informational interviews. Go out there. Be proactive. Network.
Sasha Manford: I think networking is a huge thing because if I didn't ... I talk about this a lot. If I didn't go to that women in tech event, I don't know where I would be right now.
Gillian Bruce: It was those connections that helped you get to ...
Sasha Manford: Definitely, definitely. Because a lot of people say they're self made. We're really not self made. There was somebody or some someone that helped us get to where we are.
Gillian Bruce: It's like that saying, it takes a village.
Sasha Manford: Yeah, exactly. It takes a village. And don't be afraid to lean on people and ask questions. No question is dumb. I love when ... I ask questions all the time and I don't care if it sounds silly, I'll still ask it.
Gillian Bruce: Well, it's ... I mean if nothing else, even if you're asking a question that you realize, "Oh I knew the answer to that." It just validates that what you know.
Sasha Manford: Exactly.
Gillian Bruce: I think one of the things we see in the community a lot is people love to help answer questions, because it actually helps them learn too.
Sasha Manford: Exactly. Exactly. It helps them learn a lot. Yeah, I know it helps me learn when somebody asks me a question and I don't have the answer. I'm like, "Well, let find that out. Let me research." It's like, "Wow, I didn't know that."
Gillian Bruce: Yeah. That's great. Well, I want to thank you so much for sharing with us on the podcast. I feel like we could talk for hours, which I'm sure we will continue to do.
Sasha Manford: Yes, we will.
Gillian Bruce: I want to check in with you in a year or two and see where you're at and what other skills you've got going on.
Sasha Manford: Yes, of course. I would love that. This has been so much fun. I love it.
Gillian Bruce: That's great. Okay, but before I let you go, I have to ask you a lightning round question. There's no right or wrong answer. First thing that comes to mind. We're doing in New York themed lightning round because we're in New York this week recording with so many amazing people. Okay. So your lightning round question is, what is one thing you recommend for people visiting New York to go check out or do?
Sasha Manford: Oh, wow. I highly recommend people go to Rockefeller Center. It is so magical there. Even if you do not know how to ice skate, you should still try to ice skate, especially during Christmas time. It's the most euphoric feeling ever. Seeing the Christmas tree just makes you so happy, and just ice skating and just feeling the cold wind slap you in the face. It hurts. But just being ... There's nothing like New York City during Christmas time. It's the most magical place in the world. So definitely Rockefeller Center.
Gillian Bruce: Well thank you. I agree with you. I just got to go walk by the other day and I was like, "Oh my gosh, this is so cool." I mean just the whole ... Everything's lit up, all the decorations. The tree is amazing. The vibe is amazing. People are just happy.
Sasha Manford: It's the only time in the year where people are happy here.
Gillian Bruce: Well, good. I'm a huge fan of holiday time in New York.
Sasha Manford: Exactly. And Central Park. Central Park is nice.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah, that's awesome. Well, Sasha, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I look forward to seeing what's next.
Sasha Manford: Yes. Thank you so much.
Sasha Manford: It was amazing getting to chat with Sasha. She is incredibly inspiring. She has just really got a great energy to be around, in case you couldn't tell over the waves coming out of your earbuds or over your speakers.
Sasha Manford: She has such a fantastic career story. I really liked how she described, she found Salesforce, immediately was enamored with the platform. She loved, as an end user, running reports and dashboards, especially in Lightning.
Sasha Manford: There's where that magic started to hit her. Then she voiced how she wanted to become the admin at the company that she was at when the admin left. We talked about that several times with other guests on the podcast, about making your intentions and your desires clear.
Sasha Manford: There is so much value in that, because that really set her in this trajectory. She then met Selina, found PepUp Tech, signed up for the boot camp. But even before she was able to start the boot camp, she landed her first official Salesforce admin job, thanks in part to this amazing book that Selina recommended to her, Knock 'em Dead.
Sasha Manford: We talk about Selina Suarez a couple times. She's a great resource, but she really is a symbol for what the Salesforce community does to help amplify and promote each other. I put the link to the book, Knock 'em Dead in the show notes.
Sasha Manford: The idea is you basically go for it. Don't be scared, study up, do the work, be aggressive, go for those opportunities that you want to get, and you could be like Sasha, ending up in this role, learning a whole new industry, whole new type of jargon. Now she is absolutely loving being a Salesforce admin. I love how she described how being a Salesforce Admin, you have to have an entrepreneurial spirit.
Sasha Manford: She was always searching for a way to kind of create her own role, create her own change and impact. Now she's able to do that as a Salesforce admin, because she gets to help and teach people. Sasha wanted to be a teacher when she grew up. Now she's doing that every day in her role as a Salesforce admin.
Sasha Manford: I also really liked how she mentioned that you have to have very good people skills in order to be a great admin. You need those technical skills in order to know how to use the platform, but having those people skills is really what's gonna make you a great admin, because you have to understand how to talk to your users, understand their needs, and help them solve problems.
Sasha Manford: Also, reach out and be proactive about networking. That is how you are going to open doors for yourself in the Salesforce ecosystem, so don't hesitate. Don't be afraid. Take some tips from Sasha and really get out there. Be aggressive, go for opportunities that you're interested in. Don't get that self doubt thing going on in your mind and let that take you down.
Sasha Manford: If you want to learn a little bit more about some of the things that Sasha mentioned, as always I've got great links in the show notes for you. There's a Trailhead module about navigating your Salesforce career. Put that link in the show notes. It's a great way to kind of understand what opportunities lie in the Salesforce ecosystem and how you can kind of get your career plan going and in place.
Sasha Manford: As always, please make sure that you share this podcast with your friends, with your other Salesforce Ohana. If you subscribe to the podcast, that makes sure you get the latest and greatest episodes delivered to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released.
Sasha Manford: As always, you can find more about being an awesome admin on admin.salesforce.com where you'll find more blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcasts.
Sasha Manford: You can find us on Twitter @SalesforceAdmns, no i. Our guest today, Sasha, is on Twitter @SashaManford, and you can find myself at @gilliankbruce.
Sasha Manford: Thank you so much for listening to this episode, and we'll catch you next time in the cloud.