Salesforce Admins Podcast

Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Susannah Kate St-Germain, Lead Evangelist, Architect Relations at Salesforce.


Join us as we talk about music theory as tech philosophy and the skills of an architect.


You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Susannah.

The Essential Habits for Admin Success, now on Trailhead


We’re really excited about The Essential Habits for Admin Success on Trailhead, and we think you should be too. Jump on board and be one of the first to grab that shiny new badge.

Second fiddle to no one.

If you enjoyed our conversation with Stephan Chandler-Garcia about the spectrum of Salesforce roles. This week, we’re getting up close and personal with Susannah to get to know what it’s like to be an Architect. But before her Architecting adventures, Susannah started things out as accidental Admin, and before that started her masters in viola performance.


“I thought I’d be playing viola in an orchestra somewhere but life took me a different way,” Susannah says. She started out working for an orchestra registering gifts and records in a database, which lead to her changing careers and going into fundraising. When she tried out being an Individual Gift Officer, she realized she was much more interested in working with the reports than anything else.


“I realized I wanted to always be that person who was always able to give the person who ended up doing the frontline work the information they needed in the format they needed without too much back and forth,” Susannah says. Shortly thereafter, she started working with Salesforce and got her Admin certification.

The road to becoming an Architect.

Over the years, Susannah picked up some skills. It started with trying to get to the bottom of how to make a trigger work as intended and ease the load on a Developer stretched too thin. This led to her participating in RAD Women Code. “It’s the bridge between being a really great Admin and being able to consume and take things away from the Developer documentation,” she says, “RAD Women makes you code literate so you can work with your Developers more effectively.”


One theme that comes up several times in Susannah’s story is applying for roles where she didn’t necessarily meet all of the tech requirements but had other experience that would make her effective in the position. She still applied for those roles, made her case, and, in both instances, got the job she was after. Her path to becoming an Architect was similar—when she started, she had a frank conversation with her manager about how her career could progress and what it would take to get there.


“The first time I applied to be an Architect, I actually didn’t get the role,” Susannah says, “but I had a wonderful support system that wanted to help me fill the gaps that I had in my background in order to be ready for when there was another role opening.” Again, it comes back to clearly communicating her career goals and getting people invested in helping her succeed.


Podcast Swag:

Learn More:


Love our podcasts?

Subscribe today or review us on iTunes!


Full Show Transcript

J Steadman: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast, where we talk about product, community, and career to help you become an awesome admin. This week, I'm talking with Susannah St-Germain, lead evangelist architect relations about music theorist tech philosophy, and the skills of an architect. If you enjoyed my chat with Stephan Chandler-Garcia, I think you'll enjoy today. But before we jump into that, I have some exciting news. Available now on Trailhead is a new module for the essential habits for admin success. That's right. The webinar/Trailhead live/presentation you have all loved and listened to is now a learning module on Trailhead. The link is in the show notes. So after this episode, head on over to Trailhead and be one of the first admins to get the new Essential habits Trailhead batch. Now, let's get to podcasting.
So let's just get cracking here. Everyone, welcome to another wonderful episode of the Admins Podcast. I am J Steadman, lead admin evangelist. I am your host today filling in for Mike Holt while he enjoys some very much deserved time off. And I'm very excited about our conversation. Today. We are joined by Susannah St-Germain, who is a lead evangelist in our architect relations team. And I want to build on some of that conversation that we had with Stephan a few weeks ago, where we discussed the spectrum of Salesforce roles, like admin, developer, architect. Talk about the skills that correspond to those roles, where some skills may overlap. But also just have a person to person conversation with somebody who has been in an architect role for some time and who has that architectural perspective to share that with you, you wonderful human being or beings that is listening today. So, that is a bit of intro from me. Susannah, would you mind introducing yourself and talking a little bit about your path into technology, into Salesforce and into architecture-dum?

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely J. Thank you for having me and thank you for probably bearing with my dog barking in the background. I think the mail man just came, which is always exciting. But I'm here today, yes, to chat about my background, my architect background. And like you I believe, and probably many of you who are listening, I came into the Salesforce world not on purpose. I came into the Salesforce world as an accidental admin, actually. I studied-

J Steadman: We love to hear it.

Susannah St-Ger...: Oh yes. I love accidental admins. Yes. So I started out my career thinking that I was going to be an orchestral musician. We have something in common there, I know.

J Steadman: Wonderful. Yeah. That's awesome.

Susannah St-Ger...: You're a musician as well. So I went to college and did my masters, well part of my masters, in viola performance. So viola, for those of you who might not know, is like a violin but just a little bigger and has slightly different strings. It makes a little bit different lower sound. But that's what I thought I'd be doing with my life. I thought I'd be playing viola in an orchestra somewhere or in a quartet or something like that. But life took me a different way. And I actually the truth is I got burned out a little bit doing my masters in music, and wasn't really seeing a path forward for myself. I wasn't really seeing where I would be in my career. It was a bit of a funny time around 2006.

J Steadman: Oh yeah, that was a very funny time.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. And did what I never really thought I would do and I dropped out of my masters. I took a leap and ended up temping around Boston. I was living in Boston at the time and had this random opportunity to go work at an orchestra in Colorado for the summer and be their fundraising intern. And I took that opportunity and I moved out to Colorado for three months and was doing fundraising, which as it turns out involved working with a database, which I ended up absolutely loving to do. I was entering records for gifts and people that attended events and things like that in a software system called, I'll have to remember, I think it was eTapestry. It wasn't Salesforce, but-

J Steadman: It sounds great.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. I'm not sure that it's around anymore. But just the concept of learning about a new piece of technology and working with it and entering data and running reports was just something that I loved. And fast forward quite a bit, I loved it so much that when I went back to Boston I decided that I wanted to get a job in fundraising because I enjoyed my internship experience so much, and worked at an organization called the Celebrity Series of Boston. It's an organization that puts on concerts in really famous halls, like Symphony Hall in Boston. And there, I ended up also working with a database, still not Salesforce, but we did database migration. And I was the lead of that in addition to doing my fundraising work. Wearing my fundraising hat, holding it on one hand, and then on my other hand I had my database hat.
And I thought, okay, I love this so much, I guess I'm going to be a fundraiser. I guess I'm going to do that for the rest of my life. And being, I don't know, the diligent person that I am, I was like, well, what's the best way to be the best fundraiser that you can be? And in my mind, that was to become what's called an individual gift officer. So sort of like a salesperson, the person who goes out and asks for gifts. And I went out and I got myself a job doing just that at the Museum of Science in Boston. And instantly after I started the job, I say instantly, it was within the first week, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake. Yes.

J Steadman: So I'm laughing there, and I've got some questions about the stuff that we've covered previous to this, but I'm laughing because I think it's an experience that we've all had. I think it's funny to hear that. You take the new role, you're stoked about the new role, you're diving into it and it is just totally wrong. So how did you know it was wrong? And what was wrong about it for you?

Susannah St-Ger...: Well, I knew it was wrong, so I was at my desk and they were like, "Here's your one report. Here's the report that you get on all of the prospects that you need to work with." And I said, "Oh, well, I'd love to know how I can customize this report and how I can put filters on it or get a different view." And the answer was, "You don't, you're not responsible for that. You're supposed to just take the report and go out and raise money." And at that moment, I was like, well, I want to know how this report works. I want to be able to customize it. I'm more interested in figuring that out than necessarily being on the front lines and talking to people and doing all of that work.
So I realized that I missed the back of house efforts and I really missed working with the database. And I realized that I never wanted to give that answer of you can't customize a report to someone. I wanted to always be that person who was able to give the person who ended up doing the frontline work the information that they needed in the format that they needed, without having too much back and forth. So I realized what I was missing when I wasn't able to get that customer report that I wanted without going to a different team and working with them and all of that. So, that's how I realized I had made a terrible mistake.

J Steadman: So what you're talking about, I think, is an experience that most of us as admins we're really to trying to avoid. I'd actually argue that like all of us as admins, very rarely do we want to [styne] anyone's curiosity about the thing that they're trying to explore. Of course there are things like compliance or DevOps procedures or whatever that we might have to follow. Our backlog the amount of time that we've got in a day, those are limitations that can offset what we're able to deliver to people. But rarely do we want to be in a position where we're desiring to say no to someone especially if it sounds like you were the kind of user that was really the reason you were interested in slicing and dicing that data was because you wanted to ask questions of it. You wanted to gain insights from it, so that presumably you'd be more effective in your job as that gift officer.

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly. Yeah. So I had a lovely experience of having to cobble together multiple Excel spreadsheets because I couldn't get what I wanted out of, again, still not using Salesforce yet, but the database that we were using. And I was like, this is not okay. I want to know how to solve this problem. And it's because of that reason that I made the choice to go and try and find another job that was focused more in operations. I was like, well, maybe I'm not in this frontline fundraiser role. Maybe I want to find a role in development, what's called development operations.
So I actually went out and again, found myself a job at an organization called Citizen Schools, it's based in Boston as well. And it was there that I had to convince someone to hire me, even though I didn't have Salesforce experience. So Salesforce was on the job description and I frankly didn't know what it was at the time, but I knew it was a CRM database. That's about as far as I knew. And I had to convince someone that my transferable skills of all these other jobs that we've covered already were enough. And my desire to learn was enough to hire me as a director of development operations at this education nonprofit.

J Steadman: This is fantastic. And I have to interject because I'm too excited not to, my apologies. I think you who have just given me the most perfect layup. In terms of the kind of content that we talk about in this podcast, or that I've been particularly interested in exploring with our guests most recently, there's this conversation about skills. How skills apply to technical roles or roles that we call technical and how we can have a conversation with folks about this is where I came from and here is how the skills that I developed being a violist, working in fundraising as an intern, being the gift officer and all of the skills that I'm talking to you about, this is how they'll apply to the role that I am looking for right now. And having that conversation when it might not be on the job description.
And what I like about you introducing this concept is, I've been joting down a few notes as I've been listening to your story, and the first thing that I think is very interesting is you played the viola. And for those of you that are listening out there, and of course Susannah I'm open to your correction here, but my grandmother was a violist, I actually started playing upright bass. That was how I got into music. So what's interesting about the viola as an instrument, its purpose is one of harmony.

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly.

J Steadman: It's very rare that you have a viola that's playing the melody. And for those of you that are just totally not into dissecting music, totally respect that melody is that thing that we all listen along to. It is the lead line of music. It's what people are singing. That's typically the melody.
The harmony is something that other instruments layer into that melody and support the melody. It's very rare that somebody who's playing a harmony is taking center stage. But if you remove the harmony from a piece of music, that melody can feel very empty, it can feel very flat. And so I find this fascinating because it's my perspective that this concern with harmony is actually interlaced throughout all of these Salesforce jobs, but particularly the architect role where you have to look at an entire organizations' implementation of sales source and other systems and ensure that they are harmonious with one another.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. Exactly. I've never thought of it that way.

J Steadman: Yeah. So first, I think that that is super fantastic. Second, I think the thing that is really interesting to me is, like our conversation with Stephan, you had this opportunity of a system migration to really push you to a decision point of how you wanted to interact with systems. Then it led you to this place where you got a report and you were in charge of soliciting some gifts and you realized that you were constrained. So this idea of harmony as your experience as an end user, suddenly there is no harmony. You're given the sheet music, play exactly what's written here, there are no other parts, it can't be changed in any way and have fun. And that's where it seems like you drew back a little bit and you said, well, okay, I need to make my own solution, which creates what I think is something that many admins deal with on a regular basis, which is a shadow application or shadow IT.
You were given a report that was produced by your company, and you were asked to work from that report. But to get the value you needed, you had to drive yourself into a spreadsheet that was probably private or shared amongst a small number of people at your organization. It was not in one of those official IT applications. It's very that your spreadsheet didn't exist in the CRM application that your nonprofit was actually working in. And then that leads to bigger problems with the system.
Now we don't have that what we call at Salesforce that 360 degree view.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%.

J Steadman: And from working in that way, you have then decided, you know what? This sucks. Pardon my lack of a more elegant way to say it. Let me see if I can have a broader impact and strengthen this experience. I don't want other people to have this kind of limited experience where they become frustrated with the system and are driven out of it. Let me start to get into developer operations at Citizen School. So everything kind of came together for me there. I know I just shouted everything out, but that really seems like your experience.

Susannah St-Ger...: It has been, it absolutely has been my experience. And I got that role where I could affect change, where I could actually make those reports that people wanted. And I was able to do that because we were using Salesforce. And it brought that experience of not getting the type of customer service that I wanted to get, not getting the data that I needed. I remembered that experience and was able to provide a better experience to my colleagues in this new role that I was working in and also happened to be using Salesforce. And it was at Citizen Schools where I got my admin certification. I fell in love with Salesforce. I dove into the deep end and I'll fast forward a little bit. I worked there for a number of years and got a couple more certifications, went to my first Dreamforce while I was there and that completely blew my mind

J Steadman: For context. What year was that? Do you remember?

Susannah St-Ger...: This was 2010.

J Steadman: Yeah.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. So a while ago.

J Steadman: A while ago.

Susannah St-Ger...: A while ago.

J Steadman: Pre... No, it was post-Trailhead, but not by much.

Susannah St-Ger...: It was pre-Trailhead, actually.

J Steadman: No. Yeah, you're right. It is pre-Trailhead.

Susannah St-Ger...: Pre-Trailhead. We had the workbooks. So when I studied for different things, there was on how to build a dashboard and the laminated cheat sheets on yep. Limits and things like that. But it was a great time. I was able to learn a lot. As I mentioned, I absolutely fell in love with Salesforce. And over the years, decided that I wanted to learn a little bit more about the development side of the house. So at that time that was learning more about visualforce and things like that. I just missed S controls. I didn't have the joy.

J Steadman: Dodged a bullet there.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. The joy of learning that. But I-

J Steadman: If I could pause you for a second, I'm interested. So you started to take interest in developer stuff a little bit more, what was the trigger for that or the cause for that? If there is one that you can identify.

Susannah St-Ger...: There is one and it's great. It was a trigger actually. So I was working in a relatively, I don't know, a midsize nonprofit. We had one developer in house and there was this trigger on our opportunity object that was doing things that I didn't want it to do. And I didn't want to have to rely on our one developer who was stretched too thin. I wanted to understand how it worked and I wanted to understand how to make the logic work for me. So that was definitely my impetus to learn more about Apex in particular and then also visualforce, just because I knew that it was a thing that existed and I was curious.

J Steadman: Yeah. So one thing that I've heard in common from the conversation with Stephan and in the conversation here with you, and I think is also a big frequent point of conversation is, I'm out there talking with admins in our community, this idea of understanding how things work and curiosity. And the reason that I'm highlighting this learner's mindset is because I find it valuable to and how Salesforce professionals can work with one another across roles. And to understand that devs like Stephan, architects, like yourself Susannah, admins like me and so many others, that we share a curiosity to understand how things work. And often when things aren't happening, for example, you weren't able to get the changes that you wanted out of the trigger. You called out the developer was stretch too thin. And Stephan also had a similar conversation.
So there are these opportunities where if we feel so compelled, we find that there's a bottleneck, our curiosity can lead us into greater understanding, enhance some of our existing skills and bring us what we need to get that next role. So just wanted to highlight that for the admins before we continue, because whether it's trying to understand how a complex flow works or you're cracking into a trigger and trying to understand how that trigger works, or you're looking at the entire system layout that you might be interacting on a day to day basis, including integrations and the upstream downstream effects of data choices, all of this can be approached through this lens of I really want to know how this works. I'm really curious. I want to improve things.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. And my curiosity in learning more about development led me to participate in a wonderful organization called RAD Women Code.

J Steadman: Yes.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yeah. You've heard of them before?

J Steadman: Yes, I have. Why don't you give us, if you had to give a 30 second pitch to someone out in the audience who hasn't heard of RAD Women Code, how would you pitch it?

Susannah St-Ger...: I would pitch it as RAD Women is the bridge between being a really great admin and being able to consume and take things away from the developer documentation. Because there's a big gap there in being great at customization and being able to read and teach yourself how to code. So RAD Women makes women in the ecosystem who know how to config really well, it takes them and makes them code literate, I would say, so that they can read code and they can work better with their developers, sort of the challenge that I had. And they do that through a 10 week program that's free and is led by two wonderful coaches in the ecosystem. And it really, again, just bridges that gap. That would be my elevator pitch.

J Steadman: I love that pitch. And focusing on this idea of literacy and in increasing your communication skills across roles, again admins, I've talked to you for a while now about this idea of how we communicate with one another and great to know that this is a resource that exists. RAD Women are out there, you can find them on Twitter. We'll make sure that we throw a link to RAD Women as well in the podcast notes, just so if anyone's interested and wants to know more, you can check it out.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. So I participated in this wonderful program and around the same time I took a solo admin role at a larger organization, which is an interesting move.

J Steadman: Yeah, that's an interesting setup.

Susannah St-Ger...: Yep. It was an admineloper, now we have that lingo, we didn't at the time. But I was their sole Salesforce resource. It was for a larger nonprofit. And I took it because I was interested in the area that the nonprofit was working. It was in global health and public health arena. So again another fork in the road, it was at that role where I realized I'm still doing fundraising stuff 60%, if not 70% of my time. And I'm only spending 30% or 40% of my time on Salesforce. And I would see the people that worked in the IT department at my company and I would think I really want to work in IT I think. There's something missing. I don't want to be doing this fundraising work anymore. I want to be in Salesforce 100% of my time.
And it was that realization that led me to do something that I always like to share because I think it says a lot about networking and getting jobs in this, in, in this current time. But I went on the Trailblazer, well it wasn't called the Trailblazer community at the time, it was the Success community. I went on the Success community in the Boston Mass jobs board. And there was someone who had posted a job for an organization called Boston Scientific. I'd heard of them I think, but I had to Google. I was like they're a medical device company, interesting.
And I saw that posting and they were posting for a business analyst, a business analyst in Minnesota. And I thought to myself, huh? I read through the job description. And I was like, this sounds like something I could do, but it's in Minnesota. So let me reach out to this person who posted the job and ask if they would accept someone in the role in Boston, because they posted it in the Boston group and it had Boston in the name I was thinking I'll reach out and not just write it off.
So I reached out directly to this person and they said, "Oh yeah, of course we'll accept someone in Boston." So they said, "Send me your details." So I sent them my cover letter and resume and they said, "Okay, great. I'll forward it on to the hiring manager." Whatever. 100%, or maybe 99%, but 99.9% sure that I would not have gotten past the automatic screen for this job, because I had never worked in an IT department. I have this weird musical nonprofit background. I've never worked at a for-profit company before and I didn't have a business analyst certification or anything like that. But I was able to make a connection with this person through the community and bypass that blind screen that filters so many folks out when you're trying to make a bit of a pivot in your career.

J Steadman: Yeah. I need to interject a little bit here, I suddenly became it again and you'll have to pardon me. So, sometimes we get into conversations about language here, language is really important to me. And dear listener, you may have listened to a previous conversation with Renee and I as we talked about shifting our thinking from the word problem to the word challenge. I love that you brought up your background and this is something that I talk a lot about as well, because I've got what I call an untraditional background, an unusual background. I come from acting and music and what have you. And when you described your background, you said you have this weird background.
I just want to highlight that because the conversations that I'm having with people out there, I am finding that there aren't... This is my experience. Your mileage may vary listener. Your mileage may vary as well. But this idea of the weird background, especially as we look at Salesforce jobs. I think as long as you do some of the things that you've done here in your story, Susannah, I feel like weird isn't applicable anymore. You have a background and that background is varied and multifaceted and I would argue rich. But weird, to me, and I don't mean to call you out, but weird I think this is an opportunity for us to... Weird? No. Interesting.
And the reason that I say that is what you've embodied in your approach to this conversation as you talked about it is you weren't assuming no. And this is a concept that I think is really important if you're a Salesforce admin that is out there that is trying to get your first role or if you're a junior and you're trying to step up a level or if you're a BA and you want to move into a more technical role. Really anywhere that you're at, taking the time to pause, look at what's being asked on that job description, see if there's a way that you're able to talk to that hiring manager or recruiter, and then reach out with your well thought out and well structured query. Know who the company is, know where they're based, know what they're asking of you, but then come to them and say, actually, here's what I have to bring to the table. Are you cool with that?
Asking the question, not assuming the no. Maybe having, I hesitate to say courage. But it can be scary to reach out to somebody when, as we all know when we look at Salesforce roles, the job descriptions are like, "I need a junior Salesforce admin with eight years of lightning web component development experience." It can be hard because those screeners, they can actually remove a lot of really valuable candidates. So I just needed to interject. I have all of these notes now, I can give you a whole document on your story so far. To me, this is a great background and you have been constantly curious about the technology that you're acting with, but also curious about where you go with that technology. And not assuming no has been a great ally to you. It's allowed opportunities to be opportunities, which I think is just fantastic.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. And it's been asking for what I want, without necessarily feeling like I have to know 100% that I'm right. Knowing that you can try something like I did in my individual gift officer job. And it's okay if you try it and you realize you don't like it, because then you realize more about what you do enjoy. And I think that carries over nicely into, I promise we're going to get to my architect background in just a second, that leads me to again asking for what I think I want. And that's what I did in my new role when I arrived at Boston Scientific. It was, again, my first for-profit role in an IT department, I never worked in an IT department before.
And I sat down with my manager who happened to be wonderful, I'm very thankful for that, and I asked about my career path. We had an upfront conversation about what career paths looked like at this organization. And she told me that there are two paths. There's the managerial path where you go from BA to junior manager to manager, et cetera. And then the other path that is the more "technical" path, that goes BA, technical lead, architect, senior architect, et cetera. And I thought to myself, well, I've been waiting to work in an IT department this whole time and work with Salesforce 100%, I want to follow that technical path. And I told her that, and she was like, "Great, well, we'll find ways to get you down that path."
And I was promoted without a lot of fanfare eventually, after a year or so working there, to technical lead. And then I have a, I don't know if it's a fun story but it's a true story, about making that final leap to architect. Because I was an internal candidate, I was told we have an architectural opening and we're interviewing some folks externally and we want to interview you internally as well. And I got all ready and I did those awkward interviews with people that you know, that you work with. And I did my rounds and I got the call and I got informed that I actually didn't get the role the first time I applied to be an architect. And my ego and my first reaction was, well, I'm just going to have to go find another or organization to be an architect at. Or I'll just find another role and maybe they'll appreciate me or something like this. It was this very bruised ego initial reaction.
And I'm so happy that after I licked my wounds, I was able to take a step back and know that there was going to be another role because of the type of organization we were because of how big we were, that there was going to be another opportunity. And that I still had this wonderful support system that wanted to help me fill the gaps that I had in my background in order to be ready for when there was another role opening. And-

J Steadman: I have to pause you there please. I think you've talked on something or you've brought up a topic that I think is really important and is probably vital to this specific experience that you've brought up, which is when you joined the organization, first, you sat down and you had a really transparent conversation with your manager about what your career could progress into. You were very specific about choosing which path was most appealing to you. And then it sounds to me like you moved to achieve what you needed to achieve to get the promotions to lead you to your goal. Right?

Susannah St-Ger...: Exactly.

J Steadman: But beyond that, when you took a chance at something and your desired outcome didn't occur, you mentioned in passing that you had a group of people around you that really cared about you and your growth goals, that understood that there might be places that you could develop a little bit further to achieve those goals.
The reason I'm highlighting these things is as we're looking at roles out there, regardless of the title that we hold, if we're trying to get a job somewhere, the things that Susannah is outlining are culture. This is culture. And having a culture of people around you that cares about your goals, that asks about your goals, that tries to lift you up and send you to the place that you want to be and cares about identifying areas where you continue to develop in the positive way, that to me is an organization worth investing in.
So, as you're looking at roles out there, keep in mind that this is a part of culture. It can be a part of your or interview process as an admin trying to find a new gig, asking questions about this, what is the career progression for this role? How do you support people when they're looking to continue to grow their skills? How often do we receive feedback on the way in which we're performing and what kind of feedback is that? Can I talk to other people on the team who have received feedback? I'd love to learn their experience. These are all things that I want to highlight, because I think that they are just so valuable as you're going through your experience. And I didn't want to lose the opportunity to bring that up to our audience, Susannah.

Susannah St-Ger...: 100%. And one of my personal rules for myself now, having been in the job market for quite some time, is I won't go and pursue a role or accept a role unless I have talked to someone who works there to talk about that culture piece. Because like you said J, that's so important. Other than knowing who your manager's going to be is also an important piece. But just knowing the company culture is absolutely vital to, like you said, being set up for success. Because even if you do the best work of your life, if you're at an organization that doesn't appreciate you, or isn't going to lift you up, you're you're going to have a bit of a hard time. So 100% agree.

J Steadman: To your point, culture is not only the ads that you'll see about working at a company or the employee experience website that you could see for some larger companies. Culture can shift from team to team. And so to your point Susannah, actually having a conversation with people that are doing your role that are on or adjacent to the team that you're hoping to join and really hearing about that microculture and seeing whether or not it lives up to your expectations or your needs. I think that needs is probably the best word here. We all have a need. There's a certain kind of culture that we all crave or that we all hope to work in, that we need to thrive. And this is a great tip. I appreciate you reviewing that idea with us.

Susannah St-Ger...: Of course. And that's how I ended up becoming an architect. That was my first role as an architect. And I was, again, lucky enough to be working on a team where I had some senior folks that I could learn from. It was around the time of the first Trailhead architect boot camps that existed around TDX. So I was able to do some skilling up there and really the rest is a bit of history. I have now, what, something like 23 certifications. Worked as a customer architect and worked at an ISV as an architect as well. And now I'm here in Salesforce working as an evangelist.

J Steadman: And important to highlight this idea that you've had, to me... I'm drawing all of these parallels. I've got the thread and the board with the thumb tacks and the map, I'm drawing all-

Susannah St-Ger...: The string.

J Steadman: Yeah, all the string. That constraint that you experienced as an end user with a report. As you transition from being a Salesforce architect customer into becoming a part of the architect relations team, the ability to impact your end users presumably has increased. Now what you're doing is you're trying to identify other people who have that similar curiosity that you have toward system design, application design, and the entire landscape of how an enterprise might structure things. You want to make sure that people that are doing that job don't feel constrained like you did as the end user. At least in our limited conversation here, that's how it seems to me.

Susannah St-Ger...: Absolutely. So I want to make sure that the folks who are helping define the architectures and the structures that will allow people to make good reports, that those people have the resources and the tools and the knowledge that they need to do their job well. And that's something that I'm incredibly passionate about. And to your point, I think it does probably tie back to that that bad experience that I had. I want to make sure that no one feels like they don't have the tools that they need to do their job, especially as an architect or as an admin or as a developer.

J Steadman: Yeah. I think that this is a wonderful place for us to conclude the conversation. I think my final thought on this idea of making sure that people don't feel limited. To me, when I look at your story, I see it just... Are you familiar with the Grinch Who Stole Christmas?

Susannah St-Ger...: I am. Yes.

J Steadman: So I'm not saying you're the Grinch in any way, but at the end, the Grinch's heart is very tiny and then it grows a bunch of sizes. I feel the same way about your curiosity and your interest in freeing people from walls. It started at the size that it was at, and over the course of your career it has grown and grown. And it has brought you broader and broader vision. From a report, to an application, to the entire system, to how are we structuring the architecture for a company. So you've got this curiosity and this interest in removing barriers of entry to people that has just gotten larger and larger. You are not a Grinch, but you have growing curiosity, like the Grinch had a growing heart.

Susannah St-Ger...: I love it.

J Steadman: Cool. Well, thank you so much Susannah St-Germain, lead evangelist of architect relations here at Salesforce for joining us today. This has been a fantastic conversation and I hope to have you back again soon. I had some other are questions that I'd really love to get your perspective on.

Susannah St-Ger...: Anytime. Thank you, J.

J Steadman: If you want to learn more about all things Salesforce admin, go to to find more resources, including all the links we mentioned in this episode, as well as a full transcript. You can stay up to date with us on social, we are @SalesforceAdmns, no I, on Twitter. I am @J__mdt and Susannah is @sunnydalelow. Stay safe, stay awesome, and stay tuned for the next episode. We'll see you in the cloud.

Direct download: On_Becoming_an_Architect_with_Susannah_St-Germain.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:00am PDT