Salesforce Career Converstions #9: Andrew Hart
Episode 9: Andrew Hart talks to Lee about his 2.5 year journey from zero Salesforce certs to #202 CTA of around 302 (last time he checked).
[This interview with Andrew Hart has been transcribed for your benefit. Please ignore any rogue typos. Thank You.]
Lee: So, Andrew Hart, hello. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. How are things going?
Andrew Hart: Yeah, thanks, Lee. Things are going well, thank you. Busy as ever with work and family and everything else that we have in our lives, but well, healthy.
Lee: Good. That’s good in this current time. So I am… Ordinarily, I would go on about giving an intro for you, but why don’t you do it yourself? Tell everybody mainly I suppose what you’re doing now, and then we can rewind time and go back to the beginning. Okay?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. Of course. So I am Andrew Hart. I’m a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect. I’m the lead Technical Architect for the Accenture Salesforce group in the UK. I always describe my role as having three pillars. A bit of pre-sales, so using the CTA cert to get in front of customers quite often, helping shape and sell projects.
Andrew Hart: Delivery, so helping to deliver the projects, and in my case, that’s usually around delivery assurance or high-level support or engagement at the sort of technical executive level. The final bit is team development, so looking after those who I consider in my care, and that’s the technical team for the most part—so looking out from hiring, upward to training and enablement support when they’re on projects and just general set of ears and a brain if they need it and feel that my brain can help them on their projects.
Lee: There’s a lot to what you’re doing obviously. It’s been a wild ride I think, correct me if I’m wrong, going back to the beginning. When I say the beginning, I kind of mean slightly before Salesforce. Again, please tell me if I’m mistaken here, but is it fair to say that your background didn’t necessarily lend to being what people would associate with a CTA, sort of a Technical Architect? Am I right with that?
Andrew Hart: Well, I mean, I’ve been a consultant my whole… More or less my entire working life, and I think as a consultant, you play several different roles, project to project, customer to customer.
Andrew Hart: I’ve never been… You know, I’m not a classic TA path if you think computer science degree, software engineering, product development type background, but I’ve always been technically leaning. But I very much feel that technology is an enabler for solving problems, or it should be business-led, and that starts with conversations.
Andrew Hart: I’ve always approached my role in that way. I encourage TAs that I work with to work in that way as well. We are never… In the consultancy space anyway, we’re never just building an academic, technical solution. It’s always solving business problems, and it can’t be lead by technology.
Andrew Hart: In Salesforce, you see this in their go-to-market as well. It’s all about business benefits, and it’s KPIs in either service or sales or whatever other clouds they’re pitching. It’s never just about “look at this cool tech”. It’s always about looking at the problems it can solve, and I’ve approached my career that way.
Andrew Hart: I acted on some advice I was given maybe 15 years ago from a manager I had at the time within Oracle, which was, you know, we can offshore development, we can offshore testing, we can offshore a lot of things. We’ll never offshore someone looking in the customer’s eyes and asking what their problems are. There always needs to be someone to have those conversations.
Andrew Hart: I wouldn’t say that radically changed how I approached my job, but it’s always been in the back of my mind, that a lot of skills can be outsourced or sent elsewhere, but somebody in the room to understand a customer is always going to be needed.
Lee: That leads me actually to what I was going to say, because your pathway to Salesforce, for this podcast anyway, this phase of this podcast, is a little different in what I think, because you were at Oracle for quite a long time, maybe ten years, weren’t you?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. And actually, I was a Siebel guy for a few years before that as well. Yeah, when you asked me about this I did say to you well I haven’t been working with Salesforce 10 years yet, but-
Lee: Well, we’ll let you off on that one because your rise to where you’ve got to is fascinating. So yeah, sort of 10 years… Nearly ten years at Oracle.
Andrew Hart: Yeah.
Andrew Hart: So I-
Lee: Go on.
Andrew Hart: Well, no, I mean, I went to Siebel as it was. I was Siebel trained, and I had been working for small consultancies, and I went to Siebel, which was the CRN mothership programme at the time. Shortly before, about a year earlier, Siebel got acquired Oracle, which, to be honest, was a relatively smooth transition for us at Siebel. I think it was more difficult for the Oracle CRN people when Siebel arrived.
Andrew Hart: That was where I cut my teeth in terms of working for a big consultancy, with their big projects, for technology as well to a certain extent. But it was undoubtedly where I, in those nine years, building on maybe the few years I had had before working with Siebel, that I moved up levels, and by the time I left there I was at the advisory architect level. Oracle had quite a similar model to what Salesforce has in that while they do some project themselves, they are more comfortable putting architects into critical customers.
Andrew Hart: Then, I made a move to Salesforce. To be honest, I probably stayed at Oracle a little bit too long for my career, but I was enjoying the work, and if I’m frank with myself I was very comfortable there in every regard. I thought about leaving a few times and never entirely, quite pulled the trigger.
Andrew Hart: By the time I did, I got into Salesforce, as I say, nearly seven years ago, so not early. I mean you’ve had people on this series who have been around in the Salesforce space for much longer than I have, but I feel that I got in at a good time. I got to go straight to Salesforce, so I got to learn the product very closely with the best at that time.
Lee: And obviously… Just to go back a little bit, after… You mentioned being very comfortable and thinking about leaving but never quite making the leap. What was it then that… What happened? Were you headhunted? Because there’s a connection between Oracle and Salesforce if I’m not mistaken?
Andrew Hart: Yeah.
Lee: So was that an obvious move to make? What made you then to go switching, considering all of your career had been on that other… You know, Siebel and Oracle. It was a big decision to make, isn’t it, I guess?
Andrew Hart: It was. But Salesforce was… As you say, I had grown out of Siebel in some ways, and there was a lot of similarities in terms of how the Salesforce clouds were structured and how the Siebel products were being made. Siebel had never really made a move to the cloud. It had been an ambition for a while, and Salesforce was there already. I think even seven years ago it was still very much an evolving product and certainly nowhere compared to where it is today, but it was nevertheless this cloud-based, zero-footprint product.
Andrew Hart: That was going to be the next phase, and I think we all recognised that Siebel was on the downslope, and there were quite a few people who made a move from working with Siebel to working with Salesforce.
Andrew Hart: For me, it was the right time for several factors. The projects I was getting, the interest that I had in the platform at that point, I felt I probably hit a bit of a career dead end, where I didn’t see the right prospects at Oracle, and that’s not an indictment of Oracle. That’s more an indictment of myself. But, yeah, several things just came together, and I was headhunted directly from Salesforce. We have in-house recruiters.
Lee: Very flattering, I imagine? Just brilliant.
Andrew Hart: Oh, everyone loves being headhunted. It is flattering. We try and make out it’s an inconvenience, and sometimes it can be, but it’s incredibly flattering to be approached for any roles.
Lee: Yeah. Of course. I imagine you get a lot now as well, but that’s a conversation for in a minute. So Salesforce… In a relatively short period of time then at Salesforce, because you’re only there three and a half years, what was the first project you did, or what was the first bit of work you did then on Salesforce?
Andrew Hart: My first project was a service cloud implementation at a global pharmaceutical company, actually one I had worked at before in the Siebel years and one that I’ve worked at since in the Salesforce years. They’re a big customer, lots of Salesforce instances, lots of projects going on.
Andrew Hart: I joined a team that was mostly in flight. It was coming towards the end if I’m honest, but I got to get hands-on with some Visualforce, and there was still a lot of clicking as well, and ultimately helped the project through the test phase and get it live.
Andrew Hart: Yeah, it was good, and it was at that point… I had done a lot of transition from Siebel to Salesforce, so learning the terminology differences, learning how Salesforce did things that I might have recognised from doing the Siebel platform.
Andrew Hart: But then I started finding the new things. I remember once, it was quite early on, I was just trying to think there must be a way that I can limit some behaviour in Visualforce based on the user that’s being on the page, and it just led me down a documentation wormhole. But I discovered there were… This had been thought about before me by the Salesforce engineers. This had been built in, and I could use a specific piece of the platform to do that.
Andrew Hart: And I remembered being quite not enlightened, but pleasantly surprised that there was going to be this amount of freedom with the platform and this amount of kind of magic baked in that I would be able to make use of to solve problems. So, yeah, it was… As I say, not eyeopening, but it was… Made me feel like I had made the right decision, sort of validated that yeah, this was the right technology for me.
Lee: You mean in the ecosystem at Salesforce being slightly more collaborative than the Siebel/Oracle one?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. I think so. I mean even seven years ago there was… I mean there was no Trailhead, and the success community wasn’t as vast as it is today, but there were still people talking about what they had done. There were a lot of blogs that were the beginnings of what we now recognise as all the learning and documentation. And actually to Salesforce’s credit, their documentation has always been excellent, so once you know what you’re looking for you can generally find out. It’s just getting pointed in the right direction, which was the case here.
Andrew Hart: So yeah, it was more open than the Siebel years had been at the end. But if I go back to when I first started at Siebel, and this is going back like nearly 20 years, the [inaudible] forums used to be completely open and people could raise tickets with Siebel and then other customers could just reply to them.
Andrew Hart: They shut that down I think in 2001-2002ish. But kind of reminded me of that a bit, that there was this culture of openness and transparency, and enablement as well. No one ever says that there’s not enough information or examples or war stories, whatever it might be, in Salesforce space. There’s plenty of documentation and materials you can access.
Lee: Like you say, it’s just having someone tell you where to look. I mean I was going to ask you, because your name has come up I think once or twice in the short amount of time we’ve been doing these podcasts as a mentor for people. Keep in mind I was speaking to some pretty heavy people in this space.
Lee: Did you, yourself, have anybody? You don’t have to name them, but I’m just asking if you had someone as a mentor that helped you through, guided you through those first few years of projects at Salesforce?
Andrew Hart: At Salesforce I wouldn’t say there was any specific individual, but there’s a great community of… So I was a programme architect, and there were other programme architects who… And it was a good little community. We tried to have monthly meetups, and we maybe managed eight of those a year, where we would learn about each other’s projects or problems or new technologies or whatever, so it was community enabled I guess.
Andrew Hart: But I wouldn’t probably pick out any single one of them. I think there were different people I went to for different problems. And that was true when I went… You know, as I was ramping up to my CTA. I’m more apt to tell people now… And, sorry, you’re going to probably ask me about this in a minute, but to segue in, is the CTAs made up multiple domains, and we all know the pyramid in this, the individual certs that are appointed to each of those domains.
Andrew Hart: Some people are better at some domains than they are at others, and some people are real, true, deep level subject matter experts in identity, just to take one, and you need to learn from a breadth of people.
Andrew Hart: I think going further back in my career there was a… Actually he was my manager for many years at Oracle. Just through multiple restructurings I seemed to hang on to Scott, and I always got good advice from him. I don’t think I’m a needy employee, but whenever I did ring him up, he would answer and we could have an honest conversation, or I could vent or just outlay whatever my frustrations were, and he was always there, so he was a good sounding board and helped me through the Siebel years.
Lee: Was he still there when you left to go to Salesforce?
Andrew Hart: He was, yeah, I think he is still at Oracle. I think he’s… I don’t remember his exact role now, but something in Oracle cloud space. But he’s still about. Yeah. I haven’t touched base with him for a while actually, but I see him on Facebook and LinkedIn, et cetera.
Lee: Yeah. Cool. Okay. Okay. So you touched it… We may as well take about it now if you want. I don’t know if people listening will know. They might look up your profile and see it. But you were at Salesforce you were a part of the CTA panel. Is that right?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. Well yes, I was. I only sat on one week of panels when I was there, and since I’ve left Salesforce that unfortunately hasn’t been an option, although it may be again in the future, that Salesforce will have partners play the role as the judges on the panel.
Andrew Hart: But yeah, I sat a week. I was in North America, actually. Flew out there for the week and sat… I think we had maybe eight candidates come in and present.
Lee: Wow. Okay. Do you know how many of those eight became CTAs?
Andrew Hart: I do. From that week, it was none that week. One candidate was very close and did actually pass his section retake a few months later, but it was… I mean, I knew… I mean, like I say, I’d been through it twice actually in the past, so I was aware it was a tough environment.
Andrew Hart: It was quite interesting for me because I was working with a couple of judges from the east coast, from New York, and you’re all looking for different things. That’s why you have a panel of judges. They all have strengths and weaknesses. They all take slightly different angles on the problems. They all have different ideas on the most optimal solution.
Andrew Hart: But it was quite interesting to be in that space and see their line of questionings and sort of get used to what they would look for. I always say when I do mocks with people, when I sit and actually judge the real… I always learn something, be it something about the individual, but more often something about the technology or a way to solve a problem that I might not have thought of immediately or I might have disregarded for reasons that somebody else has mentioned.
Andrew Hart: So it was a good week. It’s a tough week. I mean it’s a tough job judging the CTA. Don’t get me wrong, it’s pretty tough taking it as well, but it’s not easy for the judges. There’s a lot of work that goes in before you enter the room, and there’s an awful lot of work that goes in once the candidate has left the room in terms of the scoring, the moderation, the discussions, and ultimately the final grading.
Lee: You said yourself, you’ve been through it twice. For people that might not know you, you were 200-
Andrew Hart: 202.
Lee: 202 on the planet?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. At Training Force last year we got told that there were 302 I think at that point. But, yeah I was number 202. I actually didn’t know that until we had the first CTA Summit. I knew I was about at the 200s. We had the first CTA Summit back in 2018, the day before Training Force, and we were all given a bag of goodies, pens, stickers, a T-shirt, et cetera. But they weren’t names, they were just laid out in numbers, and you had to go and find your number by talking to people who you knew had passed before or after you, et cetera. So it was a good little networking exercise, but I actually got to know what my number was, and we should take pride in those numbers.
Andrew Hart: There are some certifications, I mean the CTA most notably in the Salesforce space, but if you look at Cisco engineers, for instance, they list their number, and they’re very proud of their number if they’re certified in that space.
Lee: The CCIEs. Yeah, you get to the point where they… There are so many of them they get kind of a bit watered down, the names.
Andrew Hart: I think the network engineers are still held with a certain level of prestige, but I know they list their numbers, which was I guess the point, and we should be proud of ours as well. And there are people who are… I can’t remember if you’ve spoken to some of them actually, you know, who passed in the first 10 or first 50, who were the real trailblazers in the space, and it’s right that they’re recognised for that.
Andrew Hart: I’m proud that I passed it, and I’m proud of my number, and I’m proud of those I’ve helped come afterwards, so yeah, I don’t see any issue with taking some pride in having passed it.
Lee: Of course. Absolutely. And you should be proud of it. Do you… This is a strange question, but is it fair to say that people have to do it twice? I’ve heard this somewhere before, but does anyone ever pass it first time?
Andrew Hart: They do. Actually I think all the best people pass the second time. Seriously, I think… And I know of at least three people who went in, knocked it out of the park, walked out of the room knowing they passed and had absolutely zero doubt that when the email come in they were going to have passed. And they are special individuals. They are super bright, super talented, super technical, but also have the right approach to sort of studying and ultimately passing the exam.
Andrew Hart: It’s the exam to be passed remember, ultimately learning the methods and the ways to do it. But that is very rare, that somebody comes out and puts their fist in the air and says, “Yes, I’ve got that. I’ve just got to wait for the email.”
Lee: God, yeah. Okay. Well, we got there probably quicker than we need to in the sense of that side of things. It’s something I’ll probably keep coming back to because there was a question later on about certification and stuff.
Lee: Let’s go back to where you ended up, what choices you’ve made I guess, to be where you are now because you were at Salesforce for three years or so. Then you’ve made the move to the consultancy side of things, so what was the decision… What was that decision based on?
Andrew Hart: That decision was based on… At Salesforce I was doing advisory services again, so I was an advisory architect, and that is what I had been doing at Oracle for my final few years there, and I was just ready for the change. I’d been working on individual projects and I wanted to take the next step up in my career, which was towards leadership or management, if you prefer, but to actually help to start to develop the next set of architects.
Andrew Hart: People have been very kind. I’ve listened to a lot of your… A lot of podcasts and a lot of people in those and elsewhere say that I have helped them, and I’m pleased that that’s the case. But I felt at that point that was something I wanted to do, which was build something and be able to look back and say I helped those people, or I helped that business, or whatever it might be, beyond the project level.
Lee: But you’re not a fan of Salesforce, or you would have thought that would be the best place to do it?
Andrew Hart: I could have done, and I really liked my time at Salesforce. I think if you really want to learn a company and a technology, then you can’t be working for that vendor. I honestly believe that.
Andrew Hart: But, you know, it sounds silly, but I never really felt like I belonged at Salesforce. I’ve said that to other people, and they don’t really understand, because it is such a great place to work and it really is a great, great place to work. But I always felt like I had only one foot in the company.
Andrew Hart: And when I got my CTA, and the CTA does open doors for you with customers or new employers or in potential employers, I thought well I’m going to have a look around and just see what’s about. There would definitely have been a career for me at Salesforce, and I’ve seen that with my colleagues and my peers, who are all doing very well, who are still there, and the way the company has restructured over the last few years.
Andrew Hart: But I wished I had a feeling that actually… I really like delivery, and Salesforce is a fantastic technology company, and they’re a sales and marketing machine, but in terms of delivery, that was still happening at the partners, at the GSIs in particular for the global transformation, because there’s plenty of boutique and smaller consultancies that are doing excellent work in the delivery space. But, you know, for me, I wanted to see okay, what are these big projects really like?
Lee: Yeah. Okay. That’s cool. So you now have the experience of being at the mothership for a partner, for two very big partners. So what’s the sort of difference then, other than the thing you said about the delivery and the advisory?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. Well, my first thought when I left Salesforce, and I went to Bluehawk, which was actually in the process of getting acquired by IBM, was to help grow out the architect’s team. There were only a few architects. There was good delivery experience within the company, and it was well regarded, but certainly in the UK when you just help build out this sort of senior delivery capability, by that it’s the solution and not the technical, the techs, which who I always think of as the creative heart of the project. They are the ones that bring the solution together and ultimately make it work to the customer’s vision.
Andrew Hart: But I got to play a part in hiring, in recruitment strategy and training and enablement, and kind of made big leaps in the time I was there in terms of my personal development, but also my view of, you know, my commercial awareness, my view of the market and a whole lot of other skills that I kind of hadn’t gone in there looking to learn, but that came to me.
Lee: You’ve talked… It looks like you were an architect [inaudible 00:23:21], coaching architects and growing the firm to quite a few people. You grew it from five to 25. That’s fantastic.
Andrew Hart: Yeah. Yeah. It was great. But even that approach… I mean we couldn’t just go out and hire 25 experienced Salesforce architects, so it was about who are the right people? What are the types of people that we want to approach that we want to speak to?
Andrew Hart: Actually, if you think about what comes… Kind of what makes a good architect, it’s technology experience. Ideally, it’s customer-facing experience as well, but actually of those things, the technology is the easiest bit to learn. So if you can find an experienced consultant and they have the technology base from Siebel or SAP or whatever, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter.
Andrew Hart: But they know… Coming back to my earlier point, they know how to talk to a customer, how to get into the issues, how to conduct themselves on a customer’s site, and ultimately how to use the technology in the right way. Then those make good, good candidates. I had a pretty good success rate at hiring people. Not all of them was good. You know, hiring a broad spectrum of people who ultimately grew into a good team.
Andrew Hart: Yeah, I was again proud to look back and say this is the people I’ve hired and they’re doing great work and a lot of them… I mean it’s not that long ago, but a lot of them have moved on to other roles now and are continuing to develop or are very successful at the companies they’ve gone to.
Lee: That’s a nice feeling, to see all these people out there that have fantastic careers and it’s with your help.
Andrew Hart: Yeah, it is. I’m not one to take a lot of credit. That’s just not in my nature, because I always feel that management leadership is all about connecting the dots. So if you can just connect the dots to get somebody onto the right project that’s going to be good for them, and vice versa. Or you can just suggest to somebody they go down a certain learning path and they are successful from that.
Andrew Hart: It’s still self-lead. They’re the one that’s done that. They’re the one that’s put out work, and they deserve the praise, but behind the scenes you’re like, you know, I am pleased if a move that I have made a suggestion that I’ve hinted at or whatever it is has led to somebody’s success.
Lee: I suppose, as you were just saying, you’re a good example of that with, you know, your experience at Siebel/Oracle. Obviously at that point, you didn’t know about Salesforce but then looked beyond them, realising that you were this very, very, very good architect and consultant, and as you said, which is a quote I will use, the easiest thing to learn is the tech.
Lee: So many times when… Now they want to see the Salesforce certifications and all this stuff; they sometimes overlook someone that could be amazing if given the right chance. I still feel that that sometimes happens, unfortunately, so it’s quite refreshing to hear you say that you look beyond that sometimes.
Andrew Hart: Yeah. No, I definitely look beyond that and it actually puts me… It reminds me of something that happened about that time. When I was looking to leave Siebel I spoke to a number of companies and… I won’t name them, but one company I spoke to, they were interested, but they felt they couldn’t spend the time to ramp me up on the Salesforce technology, and it’s fine. It panned out I went elsewhere.
Andrew Hart: But when I got my CTA, which was less than two and a half years later, I remember thinking that, you know, firstly I had made the right move because I had got to that place, but I also remember thinking that they missed a trick there, just missing out on what was basically three months ramp-up to learn some Salesforce, get the first couple of certs and then go in and… Someone once said to me, and this is ages ago, consultancy is odd because you only need to know one page more than the customer. That’s a little bit blasé, and it’s literally true as well.
Andrew Hart: Just by walking in and having a rate card attached to you, the customer will look to you to be the expertise, and sometimes you won’t have the expertise. You will know a tiny bit more, or you’ll know where to look, or you’ll know who to ask, and that’s all you need.
Andrew Hart: So that short amount of ramp-up was time well invested for Salesforce, and you know, yes, I’m not still at Salesforce, but Salesforce doesn’t hesitate to invest in the ecosystem, which is kind of ultimately what they did with me. I have been helping to grow the skills base and the people within the system since I left there.
Lee: Exactly. So Siebel/Oracle and the main company’s loss has definitely been Salesforce and the ecosystem’s gain, isn’t it, because of what you’ve done since then?
Andrew Hart: Yeah.
Lee: Let’s just move on a little bit. Did you say that two and a half years… So from not knowing Salesforce, two and a half years later, you were a Certified Technical Architect?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. It was about that.
Lee: Is that normal?
Andrew Hart: No. Nowhere near. Honestly nowhere near.
Lee: Has someone done that quicker?
Andrew Hart: I know of one person, and this was one of the two I mentioned earlier who knew they passed the panel, who I think went from zero to CTA in about eight months, and that’s… I mean that zero isn’t really a zero.
Lee: Yeah, that’s… Yes.
Andrew Hart: A lot of consultancy and technology background, but in terms of learning the platform, yeah. I mean when I joined, we were given an eight-week run, so we had no changeability target. What we had to do was… We had to go to boot camp, and we had to sort of do a lot of internal admin and what have you, but it was mostly just to train.
Andrew Hart: This was pretrial here, but there was still plenty of materials around, and there were five certs we were expected to gain in the first six months. And actually, we couldn’t come up to probation until you got those five certs. But admin, for instance, I think I got in my second week, and developer I got at the end of the first month. There were people doing it quicker than that, you know, just coming in and booking admin in for like Friday of week one and just nailing the training and getting on with it.
Andrew Hart: That was… It’s probably changed since then, but that was how it was for people coming into Salesforce in the customer success space, which was okay. You got this ramp period. Use it wisely because, after that, you’ll be out on projects. You’ll be delivering success to customers. You look back fondly at these eight weeks, where you actually had nothing to do other than just learn and network. Yeah, and that was just what was expected.
Andrew Hart: And at the end of that eight weeks, for me, I did not have the CTA in mind as a target. It was kind of off in the distance, in the gap between… I mean it’s not like it is now, where there’s the well-documented and well-guided certification journey towards the CTA. My CTA was my sixth that I got. The gap between advanced admin… No, I think it might have been sales cloud and service cloud I got fourth and fifth. Then next on was CTA, and that was just all there was at the time.
Andrew Hart: Again, there was a lot of internal materials around the demands, materials that ultimately turned into the main level architect certifications that exist now. But it was, you know, all done very differently. It was much more self-paced, and there was a lot more discretion as to what you could look at and how you could learn these things. It was a lot of just being able to produce documentation rather than sort of training plans and Trailheads, et cetera. But yeah, it was a rapid rise, I guess, but many people have done it quicker than me.
Lee: Well I bet out of the 202 that you could have been… I’m sure they don’t do it, but it would be interesting to see a bit… You’re there in the lower numbers, in two and a half years. Quickly. That’s still very good, isn’t it?
Andrew Hart: Yeah, it’s very good. Not to be… What’s the word? I don’t know. Not to be to intellectual about this, but I’m not interested in comparing myself to the others. I get what you’re saying, but I’m pleased with my journey, and as I said earlier, I think the zero that’s being used by Salesforce does vary for everyone as well. I had a lot of CRM experience at that point. I had 14 years of CRM experience, so it wasn’t like a lot of the concepts were new to me. It was about learning how Salesforce did things.
Andrew Hart: And if you think about… You know, on the system architect side of the architect pyramid that Salesforce used, integration, identity, dead life cycle, those are not concepts unique to Salesforce by any stretch of the imagination. They’re all industry standards and best practise, and I had seen a lot of those before, so I was able to move quite quickly.
Andrew Hart: Yeah, so I don’t mean to be a bit negative about you ranking me there, but yeah, I’m pleased with the pace that I made.
Lee: This is the way it is these days as well, isn’t it? You look at Trailhead… I can’t remember the link. I’ll try and share it afterwards, but you can go on the Trailhead sort of website, and there is just this [inaudible 00:32:23], isn’t it, of people that got the most Trailhead badges or the most certifications? It’s obviously changed a lot since you left Salesforce. You can go on there and you refresh it and someone jumps up a space because they’ve just got another badge or something. So though you don’t look at it that way, a lot of other people will look at it that way.
Andrew Hart: Yeah. And I know Salesforce will look at it as well in terms of the certs and the badges for how they evaluate the partners, and that’s… It is a reality, that certs play a part in positioning individuals and also companies in the broader sense.
Lee: That leads me to the next question, which is obviously for people listening to this that perhaps want to follow in your footsteps or near abouts, the whole certification versus experience kind of debate… It’s amazing how often we still get asked, and there’s never a direct answer from our point of view.
Lee: But what’s your take, on having recruited people and having looked for jobs yourself, how do you see that whole, you know, oh, he’s not certified, but he’s got five years experience type of conversation?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. And you know what? It is tricky, and I try not to apply one size fits all because there’s always… If somebody in that example, there’s probably some circumstances as to why they haven’t certified.
Andrew Hart: I think there were… I don’t know how many certs there are nowadays, but there’s a lot. But there are some of them that are harder to get. There are some of them that will be held… That I hold, anyway, to a slightly different standard. If I see somebody has got CPQ or CTA obviously or even platform development two, these are not the easiest ones to get.
Andrew Hart: This is not to belittle some of the other certs, not by any stretch of the imagination, and people learn in different ways at different paces. But a couple of them don’t really speak to experience or any sort of insight as to somebody’s ability to learn and study or actually get practical experience, because they’re… You know, they are the entry-level certs, for want of a better expression.
Andrew Hart: Honestly, it sounds like I’m belittling a whole bunch of certs and the people who have them, and that’s not what I’m trying to do. But it is much easier to find somebody with an admin cert than it is to find somebody with CPQ, and that’s just the reality. And if someone has been doing the job for five years and they don’t have the admin cert I’m probably not that bothered. If they’ve been doing it a year and they have CPQ and PD2, then they’ve obviously accelerated very quickly, but we’ve almost gone the other way there.
Andrew Hart: Then I’ll say, okay, have they certified beyond their experience at this point? It’s a fine balancing act because for me the certification should act as milestones of somebody’s experience rather than an aspirational reach. You know, I’ve studied and I’ve studied, and I’ve done 20 online exams, and then I’ve passed a cert, a service cloud cert for instance. Okay, but how many service cloud projects have you actually done? Just one or none or I’d like to. Then that person has gone the other way.
Andrew Hart: People approach the certs in a different way. Some of them do use them in an aspirational sense, and other people use them as kind of how I view them, which is in a milestone sense. Okay, we’ll I’ve found lots of service cloud. I’m going to take the cert. It’s going to be a capstone on my service cloud experience, rather than, as I say, an aspirational, now I’d like to do more service cloud.
Lee: Yeah. It makes a lot of sense. I guess it’s still… It’s probably easier to do that if you’re working at a partner… Again, tell me if I’m wrong, but if you’re working as… Say you’re a sales administrator or a customer, and it’s business as usual, and you think I really want to kick up my career and do CDQ or something. So for those people, you could say it’s a good idea to do it, but it’s [inaudible] on these projects, so now do a certification?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. In that way is that a milestone, as I say? I think… And I do do everybody differently. As I say, it’s not a one size fits all by any stretch, because somebody… An end customer might not have the budget or the materials or the people around them to be able to study for a cert, and that’s why they’re looking for a job change. That might be some of the reasons that they actually change, is they want to gain experience in a certain area, and the big partners have… You know, they’ll fund for the certs.
Andrew Hart: We didn’t pay for our certs, which is great. Actually it changes the thought process again, because you could just run at a cert over and over again, and that’s up to the partners to manage internally, okay, what is the process? How do we make sure people are ready and aren’t just taking 10 attempts to pass the cert because it looks good on their CV?
Andrew Hart: But yeah, somebody… An end customer who’s only working in one part of the application but has done a bunch of Trailheads on other things and maybe has some super badges and aspires to develop their skillset more broadly on the platform, I’m not ruling those people out in an interview sense, not at all. But you have to take… You must see this all the time, right? You try and take the whole person when you’re looking at either a CV or you’re meeting them in person. It’s not about individual bits. It’s the holistic view of who they are and the journey they’ve taken to where they are.
Lee: Yeah. Some people are finding now that now that you’ve got some advice on this, is that some people try and just do everything. They want to be a specialist in all the clouds. They want to… And that’s fine. Would your advice be up against that point that people need to specialise a little bit and pick one power point, or can you be all things to all-
Andrew Hart: So with the Salesforce, the breadth of the technology as it is right now, I don’t think you can be one thing at all, and I don’t think anyone should try to do that. You would end up with a very broad, but very shallow, amount of knowledge. You consider the different skills that are needed for things like marketing cloud to commerce cloud to health cloud, to full-service lightning, they are vastly different in their architecture, in the way that they work. Some of those are built on different technologies.
Andrew Hart: You can have knowledge of them and sort of know from an architectural view how they fit into an overall solution, but I think trying to be an expert in everything is probably a road to madness. But there are… I think there are 18 clouds now Salesforce has.
Andrew Hart: Yeah. I seem to remember hearing that number. It’s about that, and a lot of them are on the same platform. So you could say for instance service cloud, health cloud and financial services cloud… Or health cloud and financial services cloud, they’re not the same, but there’s a lot of similar concepts applied to them.
Andrew Hart: Service is service, whatever industry you’re working in. Sales is sales. The processes will change, but the underlying principles will remain the same, and you’ll be using the sales cloud product. So I think it’s probably possible to specialise in a few, but my advice would be – don’t try and master everything.
Andrew Hart: We talk nowadays about people having multiple careers in their lives, and there’s no reason why you couldn’t have multiple specialties on the Salesforce platform to see where your career takes you. But I think trying to be an expert in everything at the same time is going to be very difficult.
Lee: Yeah. That’s good advice, I think. What would you say has been your most challenging part of your career in Salesforce to date, whether as a project or something else?
Andrew Hart: Oh, most challenging? I think working at my current employer, I think we get… You know, the projects are challenging in that they are super complex, not from what’s required, but from the technical landscape, the amount of people involved, the size of the user base, the multiple vendors that are often involved, multiple partners, [inaudible] partners that are also involved. So projects can become very challenging, just to kind of organise them and get them moving in the right direction.
Andrew Hart: I’m not a delivery expert in terms of being a programme manager or a project manager. That’s not my strength, but even as a senior technical architect you’re still having to manage multiple stakeholders on projects, be it vendors, partners, customers of course, and speaking with what I call different voices, so the TA… This is the most challenging part of the TA role, I feel is you have to speak to developers. You have to speak to the functional architect. You have to speak to the customer CIO. You have to speak to the test team, the dev ops team, and possibly the users if you’re aren’t lucky, and every one of those requires different a voice, a different way of speaking, a different set of terminology, a different level of that, even the technical and the delivery and the functional space that you are speaking.
Andrew Hart: That is the most challenging thing I think for the modern TA, is can they pitch… Pitching themselves in the right way to the right audience.
Lee: I can’t imagine. I didn’t realise it was that vast. And of course, you’re talking language in terms of just the way a developer communicates versus the way a functional person communicates, not just-
Andrew Hart: I am. Yeah.
Lee: Offshore and onshore stuff as well I would imagine?
Andrew Hart: No. No. Absolutely. And obviously being English, I’m very lazy about expecting everybody to talk English. But no, you’re right. It’s a… You know, a developer, you will speak a different level of technical depth than you would to a test lead or a project manager or even the CIO, where you really elevate. Yeah, that’s what I mean.
Lee: And what would you say is your sort of favourite thing about Salesforce even as a platform or as an ecosystem, or a bit of both? Is there something that you’re proud to be a part of it?
Andrew Hart: Yeah, there are a couple… I mean I love the platform from a technology point of view. One of the things I like is what a lot of people dislike, is that there are limits and it is a platform, so you have to be creative and solve within the boundaries of what you’re given. It’s not a case of just opening an ID and having a white page and just writing a programme.
Andrew Hart: You are always within the context of whatever cloud you’re working with, and I actually enjoy that. I think it brings out… You know, it really brings out the creativity in myself and hopefully in others as well, because you have got these boundaries to work with.
Andrew Hart: I think on the ecosystem, I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like the Salesforce [inaudible] with any other technology, sort of the passionate way that people are with the company and the technology, and the willingness… We saw this actually, to tell you that people have to help one another, whatever the problem might be.
Andrew Hart: You can just Google it, and you’re going to find pages and pages of people who have ideas. Everyone will have an opinion on Twitter or LinkedIn or wherever it is that you discuss it, and I think that’s great. I personally with my certs, I’m always a little bit guarded about asking for help, and maybe I should be more open because I always get the feeling someone is going to say well surely you’ve done that before. But there are plenty out there.
Andrew Hart: I think the final thing about Salesforce as a company is that they are a company with a clear moral compass. I think they… Ultimately they’re responsible to their shareholders, and they’re looking to turn a profit, and I get that, but I also think that they will put their money where their mouth is. Sometimes you see them take an ethical stance on issues right across the board. Marc is very vocal in that regard, and the company follows his lead and has always done that, right down to… On the ground, one of the things I used to like the most when I worked there was, you know, that we could take the volunteer days that they issued for all employees, and to be honest I have these at my current company as well. Accenture does that. But it was new to me at that point. You take six or seven days a year just to go and do… Just help people. Sometimes that was digging ditches or putting up fences. Sometimes it was helping charities who were running Salesforce, just tweak their work, that kind of thing.
Andrew Hart: So yeah, you asked me one thing, and I’ve given you three, one on the company and one on the ecosystem.
Lee: I was going to ask about Accenture. You said that you also do that model?
Andrew Hart: Yeah.
Lee: Did they do that before they were Salesforce partners? Do you know?
Andrew Hart: I don’t know. My feeling would be they probably did, but I honestly don’t know.
Lee: I was just curious to see if they influenced other companies. I know they influence the ecosystem in the sense of the partners like you say. Even small ones, even we did it, which is [inaudible 00:45:57]. Yeah, it’s nice that that filtrates down to the whole… Even the little companies that are in the ecosystem. I think that’s brilliant.
Andrew Hart: Yeah. And I guess one… And also they take it quite seriously. I had an exchange with the Trailheads leadership a few months ago, because I was doing the Trailhead on unconscious bias, and it occurred to me that if this was the only source of education I got around unconscious bias then Salesforce was in a very powerful position to sort of influence people with a way of thinking, and I kind of put this out there.
Andrew Hart: Well, my train of thought then went what if I accidentally got something wrong and thousands and thousands of people would learn this, and then my train of thought went what if they deliberately did something wrong, and they are in an incredible position of power to be able to influence people’s way of thinking?
Andrew Hart: I just put this out as a train of thought on Twitter and they did respond, and mostly spoke about the process and the guidelines that they have in place around when they put out some of the Trailheads that are about the technology, that are about ways of thinking or ways of working, or ethics, or whatever it is, that they take a massive amount of diligence to get it right.
Andrew Hart: And that’s quite reassuring as well, because as you say when Salesforce takes a position a lot of other companies follow, and Salesforce takes that seriously. They do take a moral and ethical stand on a lot of issues and a way for people to follow, and that’s doing good. That’s… I want to say that’s Mark’s technology for doing good.
Andrew Hart: That’s a good thing. It is a positive thing. And I hope that as we move more into data analytics and AI and sort of Pandora’s box of opportunities and problems that that brings, that they continue to take that ethical stance and make sure that data analysis is done in the right way, that reflects the future than just reflects the past.
Lee: Do you foresee a time where Salesforce might sell to a bigger company? Is that something you think might happen? Is that something that concerns you, bearing in mind would that side of Salesforce be the first thing to go, if you know what I mean?
Andrew Hart: Yeah. I mean Salesforce could always get purchased. I think the number… As its revenue continues to grow, I think the number of companies that could afford it are probably getting smaller and smaller, but the possibility is there. I’ve seen it before, and we’ll see it again I suspect in our lives, that a technology company will grow rapidly out of nowhere and become a market leader in multiple sectors, and then they get bought out.
Andrew Hart: I think it would be foolish to say it could never happen. Yeah, I mean fingers crossed I guess that it remains the brand that we know with the values that we all understand and recognise if it were acquired by anybody.
Lee: Yeah. Okay. Well, one last… I say one last question, because I appreciate that you’ve chatted quite long, but what would you say you’re most excited about them moving forward in the Salesforce ecosystem for the next few years?
Andrew Hart: There’s a lot actually. Most of it’s around the breadth of technology that they now offer. When I started, there were just a handful of clouds, as I mentioned. Now there’s perhaps 18. They are continuing to grow through innovations they’ve always done, but also through acquisition. In the last two years alone we’ve seen Mulesoft and Tableau and Velocity, which are all massive, massive acquisitions, and change the landscape in terms of how we engage with our customers, and indeed what customers can expect from Salesforce as a company.
Andrew Hart: So I think for me the most exciting thing would be to hope that those products start to come together in a more integrated fashion, that it’s not… You know, you don’t need completely different skillsets to use them all in different partners, that we start to see a tighter alignment I guess of all of those clouds.
Andrew Hart: But what excites me is that you never know what’s going to come next. What product is going to kind of catch Marc’s eye in the future, and how will that then be incorporated into the core platform or the core offerings, and how do we have to adjust to learn to that?
Andrew Hart: That’s been my Salesforce career so far. It’s always been the next piece of technology to learn, the next product, the next industry or customer that’s now been targeted, and long may that continue, because that keeps us fresh.
Lee: Absolutely. I really appreciate your time. Feel free to let me know if there’s a question I haven’t asked that you wanted me to ask, because I know we’ve skipped around a little bit. But was there anything else you wanted to say or-
Andrew Hart: I think the only thing… You talked about… Well you’ve talked repeatedly about in your previous podcast was about, you know, advising people looking to start their career. We touched on a lot of that already I think, but just to sort of draw a line under that, it’s easy to learn the technology, so don’t hesitate to do that. There is Trailhead, and it’s easy to spin up an [inaudible] and just play with the technology.
Andrew Hart: I would say from that point, don’t say no to opportunities. Every industry has its own flavour, its own best practises, its own ways of working, but any lessons you learn from any customer, from any industry, are going to apply elsewhere as well, and that’s becoming more and more true as customers are driven towards a digital experience, but actually retail, life sciences, you pick an industry, they’re all learning lessons from each other today, which hasn’t always been maybe the case in the past.
Andrew Hart: So don’t be afraid to just say yes to that next opportunity. You’re going to learn something from it. You are going to finish that opportunity better informed, better experienced, and probably better certified than when you went in, and that’s going to do you good in the long term. So don’t be fixed to one path. Follow the opportunities as they come.
Lee: And not necessarily always for the money. Would that be a fair thing to add? Because sometimes people just move for the sake of just moving to get pay rises, but sometimes it’s nice to take the slightly more exciting opportunity.
Andrew Hart: It is. Yeah. And that’s… It’s an easy thing to say, but people are motivated in different ways, and I wouldn’t be one to… I don’t necessarily follow the money, but at the same time I recognise that some people do and that’s what motivates them to go out and learn more about Salesforce and take that next opportunity, so I think this causes a little bit. But if you need to be excited at work and you need to be stimulated and look forward to going in, then yeah, the money is certainly not everything.
Lee: Yeah. That’s a good way to end actually. Again, thanks for reminding me of that question, because it’s the most obvious one and I missed it. It’s been brilliant. Thank you for taking the time to speak to us. I know I say this a lot, and I really mean it. I think maybe we could catch up again on one of these in the future to see how things have progressed since this conversation.
Lee: But it’s been brilliant. I think anyone that wants to follow your path will probably listen to this over and over again because it’s been very informative. Are you okay with people… Well, it’s up to them, approach you for a meeting, or where are you most active? Are you on Twitter or-
Andrew Hart: Yeah, I’m not. I’m very visible I think online. I’m not very active Twitter. I am there, and I will see it if mentioned. I’m pretty active on LinkedIn.
Lee: Yeah. [inaudible 00:53:46]. It’s been fantastic, and thank you for taking the time to speak to us, and we’ll all look forward to seeing what happens to you in the future.
Andrew Hart: Right. Thanks for your time as well, Lee. Cheers.
Lee: Thanks, Andrew. Cheers mate. Okay.