Salesforce Admins Podcast

This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Ciara Skiles, a Senior Consultant and Business Analyst at Cirrius Solutions Inc. We learn how her experience in retail translated into a career in Salesforce.

Join us as we talk about how a career in retail taught her to break down barriers and communicate successfully, why it’s so important to be genuinely interested in the person and the result, and how your community and friends can support you in your career.

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

Jumping from retail to a career in Salesforce.

Just like Mike, Ciara has a background in retail. “When I was in college I did what most college students do, I worked a typical retail job,” she says, and since she had already been promoted into a supervisory role she decided to give it a go after graduation. That lead to a ten-year career specializing in workforce management and operations. “I was a go-to resource in my community to help struggling stores,” Ciara says.

In 2012 Ciara met her husband, an active duty service member in the Navy, which lead to a lot of moving around. They’ve lived in Charleston, SC, Newport, RI, Jacksonville, FL, as well as time abroad in Spain and Japan. In Japan, she attended a Hiring Our Heroes event where she heard about the Salesforce Military program. She quickly got her certifications and took a job as a Senior Consultant and Business Analyst at Cirrius Solutions Inc where she’s been working since late October.

The skills Ciara learned that translate across careers.

“When I found out about Salesforce Military, I was almost turned off by it,” Ciara says, “but when I did more research I found out that Trailhead is actually geared towards people who don’t necessarily have a tech background.” It also turns out that retail is a great training ground that translates into any number of careers. From managing personalities including training people who are working their first job to retirees with advanced degrees who are just trying to get out of the house a couple of days a week, Ciara’s seen it all.

“One commonality that I saw across the board is that you really need to figure out how to break down barriers and build trust quickly,” Ciara says, “and I think the key to success for me was that I always went into it with a genuine interest in the person and their end result.” That involves talking to a lot of customers and figuring out how to get them what they really want. “When you’re dealing with stakeholders who may have a broken process who come to you for help, a lot times they feel really insecure and unsure of how to proceed which puts them totally off-kilter,” she says, “I always try to very clearly communicate that I’m on your side, that I’m here to make your job easier, that your success is my passion.”

The amazing community that supported Ciara’s journey.

Thinking outside of the box is a big part of Ciara’s toolkit. “I’ve always been a natural problem solver, so if I see a friction point I want to do what I can to alleviate it,” she says, “which is what I think made me a really successful retail manager.” It’s the same with consulting—identify the big pain points and solve those first, then clean up the small issues later. There’s no template, however, so you need to coordinate with different departments to make sure everything is in alignment.

Through her entire Salesforce journey, Ciara has been able to rely on the support of a strong community of military spouses. “If you have a problem that you need to fix, call a group of military spouses,” she says, “give them twenty minutes and you will have five viable solutions with plans and Powerpoints and spreadsheets and all of the tools and resources you would ever need to make it happen.” Those skills translate directly into a career in Salesforce, and Ciara is proof that you don’t need a tech degree to make it happen. As she says, “my other life experience has been what has made me so successful in my current role.”



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