Saturday 7 May 2016

Salesforce - It's not just for Ladies

Salesforce - It’s not just for Ladies



This week I (and many, many others - check the picture above!) attended the “An Evening with Ladies who Salesforce" event at Salesforce Tower in London, organised by the team behind the London Salesforce Women in Tech - Freya Crawshaw, Louise Lockie and Jodi Wagner. This was a vertical journey for me, as the BrightGen offices are on the 18th floor!


The keynote talk was from Anne-Marie Imafidon, Head Stemette. Stemettes are doing an amazing job of enabling the next generation of girls into STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  Note that I’ve chosen the word enabling rather than encouraging deliberately - part of Anne-Marie’s slot included a video from the Outbox Incubator, and its clear that these girls already have an enormous amount of interest and enthusiasm (and energy!) for technology and development. 

Panel Time

The second part of the evening was a panel discussion on career pathing in the Salesforce ecosystem, with an impressive panel lineup including Salesforce MVP Jenny Bamber, Certified Technical Architect Doina Figural (the first female CTA outside of the US and one of only three worldwide) and Salesforce EVP and GM of App Cloud, Adam Seligman.

I found this an enlightening discussion, as it covered a lot of areas that I’ve never really thought about before - planning where you want to be and structuring an approach to get there for example. My own “career” (which it has taken me a long time to accept that I have one, as opposed to a series of jobs) has tended to be more about following the tech that I’m interested in, so I’ve worked for a number of small companies that either haven’t made it or have turned into very different places from the one I’ve joined. When that has happened I’ve moved on to the next one, usually taking a pay cut and dropping down from a senior to a mid-level position while I learn the ropes.

Only once or twice, when this has happened in the midst of a recession for example, have I actually worried about whether I’d be able to find another position, so it was very interesting to hear from people who have had to take a very different approach to their career, purely because through an accident of birth they happen to be a different gender.

One of the questions from the audience was around how companies can attract more women to apply for their open positions - something very close to my heart as I’ve been on a long journey to attract the first female developer to BrightGen, which finally came to an end in early 2016. It wasn’t that we were interviewing females and rejecting them, but we were getting very few CVs, and understandably many of those that we interviewed weren’t keen on being the one and only female writing code. One  panelist’s answer was around what do you tell the recruitment agents in terms of the diversity that you want from the CVs that they send you. This resonated enormously, as it has never occurred to me that I have to do anything other than ask agents to send me their best CVs.

Its not just for Ladies!

So what was I doing there? The clue is in the name - An Evening with Ladies who Salesforce, not for Ladies who Salesforce! I wasn’t the only man either - there were three or four others outside of Adam on the panel and various Salesforce representatives. It was unusual, shall we say, being at a Salesforce community event in London where I was very much in the minority, but how dull would life be if everything was always the same.

So I’d recommend these events to any men in the Salesforce ecosystem, especially those hoping to lead - its vital to understand things from the viewpoint of others, and the best way to achieve this is to listen to others. If you are worried about being the only man there, tough! We expect the women that attend the developer events to be able to handle being in the minority (and at times flying solo), so we should be able to handle this when the roles are reversed.


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