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Salesforce Roundtable Covid-19

Salesforce Roundtable: Covid-19

Listen to some of the brightest minds within the Salesforce ecosystem talk about the impact of Covid-19 on them, how they are utilising their time during lockdown and predictions on what the future of Salesforce may look like. Also they give tips on how you can utilise your time for when you are backing looking for Salesforce jobs after the lockdown is lifted.

 

Lee Durrant:

So, hi, guys. Thanks for joining us. We’re obviously humbled that you gave us your time, and we’re really grateful for that, so thank you very much. I guess we’ll pick one and we’ll just go for some introductions if that’s all right?

Lee:

So, Vera, as you’re top on our screen, would you like to introduce yourself first?

Vera Loftis:

Absolutely. Hi. Vera Loftis, I run the Capita Salesforce practise, but I’ve been in the ecosystem for over a decade now. So many, many different forms, but always Salesforce focused.

Theresa:

Thank you. We’ve got Simon. Do you want to go ahead?

Simon Thompson:

Yeah, thank you. Yeah. Simon Thompson, CEO and co-founder of Improved Apps. I’ve been working around the Salesforce ecosystem for 13 years, since 2007. I worked at Salesforce for six of those years before founding Improved Apps. And we’re helping customers drive adoption of Salesforce.

Theresa:

Lovely. Thank you.

Lee:

Gemma do you want to go next?

Gemma Blezard:

Sure. Gemma Blezard. I founded Ladies Be Architects during my time at Bluewolf, when I was working with Vera. Recently broken away to start my own advisory consultancy business, focusing on architects. And I’ve been working with Salesforce for 12 years.

Theresa:

Fantastic. And then we’ve got Toby.

Toby Heath:

Hi there. Hi everyone. My name is Tony Heath. I’ve recently been working at Heathrow, previous to that it was Gatwick, and previous to that was a company called SITA who were based out in Geneva. I’ve been working in the Salesforce space for about eight years now, on and off in different guises. Yeah, that’s me really.

Theresa:

Thank you.

Lee:

Brilliant. Thank you. And last but not least, Penny and your Muppet. Do you mind introducing yourself?

Penny:

Yeah. Hi guys. Yeah, my colleague. Times are getting desperate for colleagues. So I’m Penny, I’m the Chief Operating Officer of Pracedo, and like the other guys, I’ve been around doing Salesforce for ages, so about 12 or 13 years, and I’ve been the customer at other consultancies and the ISVs, so a little bit of most of the space.

Theresa:

Fantastic. Thank you very much guys.

Lee:

Yeah, okay. Well we’ll just dive straight in. I know I sent you some questions that we’re curious about, and obviously I want to thank you all for doing this and thanks to Gemma as well for being there when the idea hit us both. We thought it’d be a good idea then just go through some questions about how you’re all handling the current situation and obviously what you think might happen in the future, so that people can hopefully see some light at the end of the tunnel.

Lee:

So the first point I think we’d like to cover, and I think I might start with…

Lee:

Who shall we start with, Jenny?

Lee:

Okay, well actually, Gemma, because your situation is quite interesting, I mean all your situations are very unique, but how has the current COVID-19 situation affected you in that you’ve just started a new business, and all that sort of stuff?

Gemma Blezard:

Sure. It’s been interesting because the conversations I’ve been having have varied in that regard. So I started up the consultancy in October and began the year full of optimism around, come March, we’ll start building all our relationships and go on a world tour. We can start getting the word out and everybody’s going to be kicking off digital transformations and we know we’re needed, et cetera. Nobody could have predicted this in any way at all I think. So I’ll be honest, it has been tough.

Gemma Blezard:

Starting this business, the number one thing to do was to make sure there was enough work coming in so that I could live in this house, for a start. And for the first time in several years, it has really hit me financially right where it hurts and it has created a sense of humility, for sure. I’m certainly shopping far less extravagantly and less frequently, for a start. It’s certainly taken me back to basics. How do I start these relationships again? And also, how do I just start to re-evaluate and realign on my priorities?

Gemma Blezard:

Yeah, it’s been tough and there’ve been lots of views around how we will bounce back. But, just wait and see. But not knowing where the next mortgage payment is coming from is a very big and very real issue here for me.

Theresa:

And how have you embraced that, from being in a point of view where before you were in a role where you’ve probably got that job security, to suddenly find yourself starting up a business where there is no security? And how have you found that transition in general?

Gemma Blezard:

In my situation, as you know, I’ve not had the easiest time over the last few years in my personal life and my health and so on. So I’m used to my world being turned upside down, if that makes sense. So the way I react and respond to that is to mobilise, is to think what do I need to do now in order to solve this problem? Being a consultant for 12 years, you get used to solving problems. So the immediate problems have been how do I get the flywheel going? How do I make sure that I use the network of relationships that I have in order to try and create some more security?

Gemma Blezard:

And I know that for other people, it’s really knocked people for six. All of this situation for me, I just see it as another fence I’ve got to jump over at the moment. And it’s a higher fence than I’ve had previously, as weird as that sounds.

Lee:

Yeah.

Gemma Blezard:

Having cancer was a breeze compared to this. I know that sounds dark and strange, but all I had to do was sit down and absorb some nasty chemicals and the problem was solved in that for me. But I can’t sit down and take drugs for this one. I’ve got-

Theresa:

It’s that feeling that things are beyond your control, isn’t it? Because there are certain things you can control, but this seems to be something that none of us have any idea of how long it’s going to go on for, what the outcome is going to be, when things are going to return to normal again. So it’s that sense of losing control.

Gemma Blezard:

I guess so. And I suppose, in this situation as well, my mentors are all over the place. They’re all over the ecosystem and I’ve got access to mentors that are very prepared to just jump on a call and share their experience with me. So that’s something that I really value in this situation. And I’m not restricted as to where I can get those mentors from. I can get them at all levels, all countries, all business backgrounds.

Theresa:

It’s a good position to be in, isn’t it, really?

Lee:

That’s a good benefit of the Salesforce ecosystem isn’t it? That everyone is so giving, I think. Thanks for that Gemma.

Lee:

Same question then to Simon. How has it been for you, with being a CEO of your own business there?

Simon Thompson:

Well I think there’s two angles on it from a personal level. First of all, I’ve got quite a few mouths to feed within our business and look after those individuals first and foremost. I think on a personal level, not getting out and about and meeting people like we normally do on a day by day basis, I definitely miss that. That excuse to get away from the children has gone. They’re constantly around us now, and as much as I love them to bits, they’re always there when you don’t want them to be.

Simon Thompson:

So I think on a personal level, it’s been more focusing on giving reassurance to our employees that the business is good, we’ve got a subscription model, our customers are happy. So making sure that they were reassured as well because we have a variety of people working for us and some of them were very worried about what was going to happen in all this furloughing, things going on, was it going to affect them?

Simon Thompson:

So I think going back to even January, I made a decision that people only needed to travel if they personally wanted to travel. So they were able to make their own judgement quite early on. And then moving through to March, we made a real statement that we’re fine as a business, we’ll carry on as we are, things are going to change naturally, which we’ll discuss more later.

Simon Thompson:

But I think for me it was twofold. A difference of the way my life is, not getting out and about as much as I normally do. And the most important thing was just making sure our employees were comfortable and knew that they were secure and safe, because another part of that was making sure that even if they were going to be sick or off sick, that we were going to support them regardless, full salary and keep the business running. So that was very important for me to support our company in that way.

Theresa:

Great. Fantastic. The staff that have been working for you, how have they been receptive to towards that, that you were communicating that out to them?

Simon Thompson:

Yeah. Overall, very good. We now have daily 15, 20 minute, sometimes ends up being half an hour catch ups in the morning. We don’t talk about business there, it’s purely just to catch up, talk about things that are going on. It’s very difficult to try and keep that positive though with everything in the news. And we have fun and games and quizzes on occasions when people want to step up and do that.

Simon Thompson:

Yeah, it’s just working a little bit differently. We are a software company that’s used to working from home quite a lot anyways, so it’s more the individuals that are out there that don’t have family or on their own that need that extra support, and just trying to operate a little bit differently.

Theresa:

Yeah. We totally get that. Within our own business, we’ve got people that have got children, so they find it very easy to occupy themselves. And then you’ve got other people that literally, just they’re on their own, and that’s quite a scary prospect for them because they can’t get out as much as they often would. So you have to, I suppose metaphorically, because we can’t actually do anything physically, put an arm around them and say, “It’s going to be okay. We will get through this together.”

Theresa:

So we completely understand where you’re coming from.

Simon Thompson:

Yeah.

Theresa:

And I’d probably like to ask Vera the same question really, because yours is quite a unique situation, that you’ve actually joined a company during the lockdown. So how has that been for you?

Vera Loftis:

Yeah. Well it’s interesting because I went on garden leave right before the lockdown, and so I had all of these ambitions, plans of being a lady who lunches and I think I had mapped out my whole four weeks, and then all of a sudden I found out I was going to be stuck at home. So that was my first stark reality.

Vera Loftis:

And then I started to get used to that. I’m like, “Oh, I’m quite productive and I’ve done loads of organising,” and all of a sudden, I remembered I have to go back to work. And it’s been really interesting. Onboarding in a world where you don’t know anyone and you aren’t meeting people in a lot of the same ways is quite a strange experience. And I think it’s probably taken me longer to understand the organisational structures within Capita and how internally deals flow and how relationships work, just because you don’t really get to see it in action. You’re meeting people, but it’s pointed conversations. So it means that you’re really trying to gain the full picture on your own. So that’s been quite difficult.

Vera Loftis:

And obviously, my role is very different than I thought it was going to be a couple of weeks ago. I think prior to coming on board, I had this very ambitious business plan and we were going to build all of this pipeline and hire all of these folks and within a year we were going to be a hundred people, and then all of a sudden, you come on day one and people across the country are being laid off, hiring freezes are happening, and it takes on a completely different lens. So I’ve been concentrating on how do I build a practise from nothing? I’m the last person who’s going to go and say, “Okay, but Salesforce is very important. I would like some investment,” while everyone else is panicking. So how do you focus to determine the activities that I think are important that you can then build on top of?

Vera Loftis:

And I was quite lucky in that, my first day in the job, because I was obviously quite nervous coming in as somebody brand new in the middle of all of this, my mentor and the guy who actually hired me at Capita sat me down and said, “Don’t be stressed. I know that you’re going to be paranoid about doing anything and everything to try to get exposure and try to get yourself out there.” He said, “Just use this time actually to make sure that you carve out enough space for yourself to actually gain a skill.” So he said, “You need to think about, in all of this, when you come out of it, what will you have taught yourself? What will you have learned? What will you have achieved outside of your daily job?” And he said, “I think that if we aren’t doing that, we’re missing something. If we’re trying to fill the space in our day for the sake of being busy or being important, then you’re really missing out on a massive opportunity.”

Vera Loftis:

And I thought that was a really good frame of mind to be looking at all of this with because I do think people get panicked, especially in environments where people are being furloughed, you want to be critical. And I do think it does cause people to tend to book in more meetings, tend to book and more conversations. And I think the perspective of being able to take a bit of a step back and say, “I am going to have a bit more time. I need to make sure that I can serve that time and that I do something productive either personally or professionally with that, so I’ve got something to show at the end of this.” I think is quite a good way to look at it.

Theresa:

Yeah. It’s a really good point actually because there is going to be so many companies out there, like you say, that are going to hit that panic mode and fear set in, and they’re going to be making themselves busy and all sorts of activities just to fill their day, when actually, are they the activities they should be spending their time on? So it’s a really good point there.

Lee:

Certainly we might be guilty of that, mightn’t we? So that’s a good tip. And also the opportunity to learn something, great tip. No matter what level you’re at in the Salesforce phase, I suppose it’s a good idea for people. Also for you as well, you were at Bluewolf for such a long time, weren’t you?

Vera Loftis:

I know.

Lee:

So it must be so weird, not only to leave there but then to leave them in the middle of this.

Vera Loftis:

Yeah. It’s quite strange, because of the timing of me leaving, I didn’t get leaving drinks and the whole hoopla around [inaudible 00:15:15] the place for that long. It does seem very anti-climatic in a bit of a strange way.

Theresa:

It’s not the same, chinking glasses over the internet, is it?

Vera Loftis:

I know. I was waiting for all the champagne to start arriving by mail, but that also hasn’t happened.

Theresa:

You’ll need to give them a little nudge in a few weeks.

Vera Loftis:

Yeah, exactly. When everybody calms down. But it’s been really interesting for me too, in the whole learning environment because running such a big team for such a long time, I don’t often touch Salesforce anymore. And being one person, trying to build a practise, it’s actually forced me much more into the app and much more into the platform. And I do feel like I’m reinvigorating my understanding of how Salesforce has grown over time and how it can best be leveraged. So in a lot of ways I’m really grateful for that because I don’t get to sit that close to either the customer or the systems that they’re managing.

Theresa:

So you’re actually going back to basics a little bit really.

Vera Loftis:

Yeah.

Theresa:

Fantastic.

Vera Loftis:

I realised I’m not as smart as I thought I was.

Theresa:

I’m sure you are.

Lee:

Brilliant. Thanks Vera.

Lee:

Toby, before we lose you, because you keep dipping out, there. Oh, he’s gone. Can you hear us?

Toby Heath:

I can hear you.

Lee:

Your situation, again unique, isn’t it? So describe what’s been like for you, mate.

Toby Heath:

Yeah. Well last year on November the 15th, I thought it’d be a good idea to leave the sanctuary and security of Switzerland. So I’d been living there for 5,333 days.

Theresa:

Wow.

Toby Heath:

So I had my permit to reside there. I thought life was going pretty well for me in terms of I’d been contracting at Gatwick for a couple of years and then secured a longterm contract at Heathrow, working on their expansion programme and running Salesforce for that. So I made that decision in November, and I think since then everything has gone frankly to the wall on a weekly basis. But that’s what defines us, isn’t it? It’s facing these problems, it’s facing the unknown and it’s how we as humans and individuals deal with that.

Toby Heath:

So I think my first problem this year was, to be absolutely blunt, the snow didn’t arrive in January, so it was a pretty average ski season unfortunately. And then I came back after, fortunately having a couple of weeks skiing, which was lovely. It was great. And then I came back to the appeal at the high court against the government’s decision for the basis of their transport policy for the whole of the UK. So it wasn’t specifically the end of expansion, it was consideration of the Paris Accord in that decision making, which hadn’t been taken into account.

Toby Heath:

So as a result of that… The expansion programme was a huge planning exercise. It was about 2000 people working on the programme. And literally overnight, we were given about a month’s notice, so to speak. But basically everything was put on hold for what they thought would be 18 months to two years. Now, the expansion programme being privately funded and publicly funded, that meant a lot of contractors such as people from Turner & Townsend, CBRE, all the big construction firms. Everybody was benched, basically. So that was a bit of a shock.

Toby Heath:

But I’d also been doing some work in the commercial space for Salesforce at Heathrow. So they’ve recently launched a VIP booking system for all the Royals, dignitaries and so on and so forth. So I’ve been involved in the commercial space, and I was offered basically a role to stay at Heathrow, to continue but be more commercially focused rather than working on expansion, which was great. And then COVID-19 kicked in, and of course that was that.

Toby Heath:

So I finished up there on 31st of May. I’d planned to have a couple of weeks holiday over Easter, so to me, I’m still in a little bit of holiday mode, if I’m being honest with you. It really hasn’t, other than not being paid, which that obviously has its own personal issues, but from a work point of view, I’m focusing on things that I can focus on from a work perspective. So training is one of those points that I’m desperate to pick up on. It’s very rare that you find time during your day to day work to sort out things, go through all the personal administration, which frankly falls by the wayside normally in our own lives. So getting on top of that and just taking a little bit of downtime, to be honest. One could argue there’s an element of anxiety around how long it is going to last for, but it’s looking around Europe, how they’re handling it.

Toby:

And when restrictions are being lifted. So I remain optimistic that in a relatively what I would call a short space of time, things will start returning to some semblance of normality versus where we are today.

Lee:

Hope you’re right, mate. Thank you much. And Penny, from your point of view, how’s it has the current situation been for you? Penny, you’ve gone quiet. Penny, you’re muted.

Penny:

Yeah, sorry! I was just going to say it was really interesting listening to everybody else because you’ve got a good range of the different sorts of businesses and different sorts of experiences here. So for us, we’re still a small business. There’s 43 of us, we don’t have the benefit of that steady subscription income that maybe Simon [inaudible 00:01:01] has and obviously we’re minuscule in scale compared to Capita. But we are a lot more established than, say Gemma is. And we have multiple customers unlike Toby. So we’re a bit of a hybrid of all of the challenges and also opportunities that some of the others have got.

Penny:

So for us, I think our challenge is the pipeline has dried up very much. I’m not sure if that’s what everybody else is seeing. I could see Gemma nodding too and I think Salesforce were an early mover in terms of going into the lockdown and really wanted to be ahead of the curve and doing the right thing and I think perhaps especially across Europe that that impacts us as they are being very respectful of the situation and being very sensitive about how they try and build their business and there’s a knock on effect to everybody in the ecosystem from that for sure.

Penny:

We’ve got a lot of projects that are midway through and that’s great because we’re still incredibly busy. But then as a couple of you have alluded to, and Theresa you said this a couple of times, it’s the not knowing how long it’s going to go on for. So not knowing what that endpoint looks like means that from a managing the business perspective, managing our cashflow planning ahead, we have to be really risk averse and also that is quite scary not knowing whether this is going to be a couple of months or six months or longer. And then that’s where the impacts on all of us personally come in, in terms of what that means for our jobs and our incomes.

Penny:

So you know that’s manageable in the short term, but scary looking long term and personally there’s pros and cons. I’m lucky enough that my daughter is nearly 17 so I don’t have little kids tooling around the place, but suddenly being at home with her all the time, it’s a bit of a shock. On the plus side, I’m supposed to be running the London Marathon this weekend, so the fact that I have until October to train, it’s like a real Godsend. Because I would have struggled to drag myself around the marathon this weekend. But hopefully with now having until October, that’ll be a real bonus for me. And the being at home does mean I have got a bit more time to train. So all in all a bit of a mix.

Theresa:

It’s good you’re finding a plus in there though.

Penny:

I’m trying, Theresa.

Theresa:

The thing is, we live in a little village so we’re very fortunate. It’s very community orientated, but we are a bit of a fitness freak couple anyway. We like to do lots of challenges, but there’s so many more people out there that are actually in a way getting to grips with nature in a way they’ve never got to grips with it before. It’s actually quite nice to see, isn’t it? Less traffic on the road. You can hear the birds singing for a change. Stuff like that. It’s nice.

Lee:

Is Lotti? I mean is she running and that things? So we’ve noticed it’s a lot of teenagers and sort of people you’d never see running around our village are running around our village all of a sudden. Now they’ve been encouraged to stay at home and play with their toys, they want to go out. Is she doing that?

Penny:

She’s doing an apprenticeship herself for work. The first couple of weeks, she’s just asleep. She’s more the sunbathing type probably rather than the running around the block.

Theresa:

So at the end of this, she’s going to have an amazing suntan.

Penny:

She’s learning how to do her own nails. So she’s going to have a fab manicure and great tan.

Theresa:

Does that mean she’s trying them out on you, though?

Penny:

No, no, she’s still been doing them on herself. I’m not quite ready for that yet.

Theresa:

Fair enough. Okay. Thanks for sharing that. I mean it’s like quite a diverse mix of what’s going on at the moment, but I’m sure there’ll be many people out there that can really relate to what you’ve all been saying. I suppose if we look at from your customer’s point of view, then what kind of challenges are they facing? What are things your customers have been saying to you? I don’t know who wants to go first on this, but maybe if we come to you first, Penny for a change.

Penny:

Okay. So I think that’s very, very dependent on what industry they’re in. So obviously some of our hospitality customers were hit hard and hit very early by this and there are pros and cons about that for them. So mostly it’s a really difficult time for them, but it does at least give them some bandwidth to do projects that are much more difficult to do in the running normal business time. We’ve got one customer who’s doing, they’re releasing a new piece of work in Salesforce around their billings and revenue recognition and actually doing that at a point in time where the volume of those transactions is very low is a much lower risk time to release something like that. So obviously it’s not what they want, to have a few transactions, but it does make it low risk to be going live with a new piece of work.

Penny:

There are other customers who are, at the moment, totally unimpacted by this change. Maybe they deal with a lot of public sector, a lot of subscription business, business to business for them. But even they know that as the economy is hit, pain is going to come. It just might be that that’s a few months or a year away or somehow softened for them.

Penny:

So different customers have got different challenges and similarly when it comes to coping with the practicalities of suddenly working from home and that’s where Salesforce really really shines. So for us, we’ve gone live with a couple of offerings. So one is Trailblazer as a service, which is where we’re providing somebody to work as part of the customer’s Salesforce team. And that’s been really successful. We had some fantastic feedback from customers about that. And then the second thing has been specifically to retailers, which is some free work particularly around the marketing cloud side of things. And definitely for us being quite strong in marketing cloud and Pardot, that’s been used a lot over the last few weeks. Yeah, a bit of a mixed bag from customers.

Theresa:

Yeah, right on. Gemma, what are your thoughts on this?

Gemma:

Well, if I had more customers I’d be able to say.

Theresa:

For the few that you’ve been speaking to, what challenges…?

Gemma:

At the moment my biggest challenge is nobody’s buying. So, and obviously being so, so new, I’m having a lot of top of the funnel activity going on at the moment. It’s not something I want to focus on. I want to focus on closing deals down really. But I’ve had to accept that that’s tough. So I’ve been working on having a lot of conversations with AE’s, potentially looking at opportunities for us to go and help because we want to be helpful and we know that in the future we’ll be remembered for being helpful in more favourable times. I suppose at the moment I do have one customer that’s not affected at all, but then I’m affected by the end of their financial year. So I’m not in a position to close that until their financial year starts. So it is tough at the moment.

Theresa:

What about you, Simon? How have you found it?

Simon:

Across the customers, again, I think what’s been said already really. A variety of different situations. I think the last few weeks has been companies looking forward to the dust settling a bit. And clearly a lot of the executives I’ve been talking to, and customers, there’ve been regular, if not daily, critical meetings being held in terms of working out what they’re going to be doing or what they’re going to be focusing on. There’s definitely been a few customers here that are looking at opportunities to use this time as an opportunity to get projects underway. I think to Penny’s point, get some things done that perhaps would have been kicked down the road, kept getting kicked down the road otherwise. So a bit of a mix really. But you know, we’ve been offering our product free of charge even to existing customers.

Simon:

So we have quite a lot of customers that perhaps have only rolled out our product to a subset of users. But the benefits are huge if they were to invest across all their users, but with Salesforce’s support, which has been fantastic, we’ve been able to say, look customers, you can have unlimited use of our products and we’re not going to change that until we come out the other side of this pandemic. So it’s been nice for Salesforce to be able to support us as a product company to support our customers who are in a variety of different conditions at the moment. As Gemma was saying, in terms of our prospecting and trying to talk to new customers, that’s all gone out the window. Now we’re focusing our energy, talking to other Salesforce partners, and drawing more awareness of what we do. Because I think trying to sell in this mode and in this current climate has to be done completely different for how we did it before. How we have to be very respectful of the situation. The people we’re trying to get to are really and they got bigger, bigger projects to work on at the moment.

Lee:

That actually leads us quite well to another question, but I appreciate… Vera and Toby, you’ve not a chance to answer, but do you have anything else to add to that or did you want to come back on the opportunities that some of the Salesforce partners and the ecosystem are giving to customers or did you have any updates on the customers issues and problems?

Vera:

No, I think they go hand in hand. I think from a partner perspective, our response is because of all the things that everyone has just mentioned. So I think I’m okay if we move on. Yeah.

Lee:

Toby?

Toby:

Yeah. No I’m fine. I mean I think we know what’s happening to the aviation industry and there’s not a lot I can say about that. In terms of, I think the problem that the aviation industry is going to have is, as I see it, and having spoken to a number of colleagues, I suspect things like, and this is just my opinion, I’ll caveat that, things like the third runway if it were to happen. I think that’s been significantly kicked into touch now and that opens up UK infrastructure planning and what that looks like over the next 10 to 15 years. I can see a consolidation of local and regional airports and probably some of those closing as well.

Toby:

I mean Gatwick’s one of the biggest single runway airports on the planet, other than Mumbai and Heathrow’s one of the third or fourth biggest in the world and I see it taking them quite some time to come back from this. And that has a significant knock on, not only for those airports but also all of those, the ground handlers, all the associated enterprises and organisations that support airports and airlines as well. I think we’ve all read that in the paper.

Theresa:

You don’t realise how much just one sector suddenly has a knock on effect around really.

Toby:

Correct. Yep. So I mean from my point of view, I’d be looking to diversify out of necessarily staying in aviation and transport and travel and look at other areas. Many skills are transferable, but I think it would be a good idea to look elsewhere with that respect.

Gemma:

Can I add something? I was having a conversation with a colleague just before this call actually, and we think that we were actually gazing into the crystal ball, thinking that there’s a real advantage here as customers have had to digitally transform in a very reactive way and despite that baptism of fire that they’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks, we think that it’s actually going to force people to see the value of remote working and actually you look at the effect that that’s had on our environment. You look at the smog in London, at how much that has gone down in a few weeks and the number of focused and pointed conversations that people have. I mean I have had virtual pub meetings with my friends and colleagues on a Friday night, or we play games together and we’ve had more chance to talk and bond over those calls, as tiring as they are, because you do get very tired being on meetings all the time.

Gemma:

You actually have more opportunity to talk and it’s a lot less awkward for some people. So I think we won’t see a return to what it was like before, I think, in a hundred percent because I think that, and I hope, that more businesses will be open to embracing the benefits of remote working and keeping and if you are face to face, making sure that those face to face meetings are more productive and valuable because they’ll get into the ways of working that you have when you work remotely. Like I’m on a call for a meeting, I need to get this. This meeting has a specific purpose and we’ve all got to drop in an hour’s time. So let’s keep those conversations purposeful and meaningful instead of just having meetings for meeting’s sake. Maybe people will become smarter with their meetings and therefore respect one another’s time more and that will ultimately have a better effect on the environment.

Lee:

We were thinking about this with our business because I’ll be honest, we were reluctant, and we’re just a small recruitment company, but we had people in offices and probably born out of my history, I wanted to see them at their desks everyday doing their jobs, but being forced to do this has made us realise that I think it saved us a fortune because we were lucky enough to get out of the offices but and also actually I quite enjoy this and it potentially moving forward can open this up to a wider pool a talent because instead of looking for what we’re looking for in this narrow little space in Kent we could open it out and if we’re feeling like that, then how many other companies are feeling like that?

Gemma:

And the world is more accessible. I mean I have later meetings in the day. I’m not a morning person. I get up at nine. I maybe start work about 10:30 but I’ll go right through until the evening because I’ve got Americans to speak to. That aren’t living here in the UK.

Toby:

Sorry, just on that point, and again going back to Heathrow. I mean with the expansion programme, with all those additional consultants and contractors coming into the compass centre, which is on the north side of the airfield, they didn’t have space. They didn’t have desks for everybody, so they actively encouraged people to work from home anyway and I would normally only go into Heathrow maybe one day a week or maybe one every two weeks and in fact this year I only went into Heathrow for two days between January the first and the 31st of March. And actually I think once you’ve overcome and you’ve had that face to face contact and people understand how you work and you as an individual, I think you do need to glean a little bit of that through face to face time. Once you’ve been through that, then there is no reason to be in an office. And I think a lot of people who are new to this are learning this very quickly, that you can work from wherever, doing whatever in most instances. Obviously not everyone, but certainly I think in the world that we’re in, that’s absolutely something, it can be done.

Theresa:

That’s a really good point. I mean that you’ve both made them perhaps open this up a little bit more. I mean there are some companies out there that possibly, I mean I have to say thank you to Gemma because I was having a little bit of a mental breakdown when it all kicked off and we are absolutely positioned to work from home because [inaudible 00:39:15] but we actually use Salesforce as a system and for a split second it was like my brain shut off and I couldn’t figure out how I could get people…

Gemma:

It was all about to spend a fortune on VPN. [crosstalk 00:39:29].

Gemma:

I was like you don’t need VPN. Don’t get your credit card out, put it away, put it away.

Theresa:

But that was the problem. There’s so many companies out there that weren’t actually accidentally set up to work from home. So what are the lessons that we could learn from this? There’s so many businesses out there that could save costs and could save the employees oodles amount of travel time every day. So that’s a better work/life balance for them. But how could those companies perhaps position themselves in the future so that if, God forbid, something like this globally happens again, they’re in a much stronger position moving forward. Because it’s a scary prospect [inaudible 00:40:09] the people working and for the business owners to think it could all crumble and there’s not a thing they can do. I suppose whoever wants to go first with that one.

Vera:

I’ll take that one because I do think that that’s everybody’s biggest concern is not necessarily when this is going to end, which is obviously a major issue. But what if it happens again? And I think in terms of resilience, I think that’s what companies are looking at and putting action plans in place to address some of the issues. And I think some of them are obviously massive like connectivity, which you couldn’t have necessarily anticipated, but some are quite simple. I think a lot of the bigger companies are suffering from people not being productive at home because they couldn’t get laptops out fast enough. You know, and things, to Gemma’s point about VPN and giving people the access that they need. You know, I think there’s a lot of companies that are looking at bring your own device.

Vera:

When I got this very big laptop, which I have, from Capita, that was my first conversation is what is this and why can’t I just use my own Mac? And the IT guy actually said to me, he said, it’s interesting, he said, because Capita does a lot of government work. And so we’ve got a lot of restrictions in terms of compliance and security. And he said we used to be very rigid with you have to have our laptop, you have to be dialled into these VPNs at all times. And he’s like an actually this has made us realise that we can still have the level of security and compliance we need. But getting people up and running as quickly as possible circumvents some of that inclination to do it the way that you always have. And so I do think there’s going to be companies that are looking at solving those problems, which are quite tactical, and obviously big problems. I’ve got a contact centre that got people in office, 50 people sitting at desks and banks, and how do I make sure that systems like Salesforce help me…

Vera:

You know, how do I make sure that systems like Salesforce help me, you know, transition that into a virtual world? Even if I don’t necessarily buy into the idea that everyone needs to work remote from now on, how do I make that transition seamlessly when it does happen?

Vera:

So I think you’ll see big transformation, and I think you’ll see small tactical solutions to help people react faster in these situations.

Theresa:

And what about … sorry, what about some of you that already have a work-from-home … you know, I don’t know Penny whether you have-

Lee:

I was going to say [inaudible 00:42:32] you’re very much in the office you guys, aren’t you [inaudible 00:42:34]?

Penny:

Yeah, so we’ve got quite a young team particularly among the consultants, and so time together, it’s a rarity for us already, so people do do bits of working from home, but more often than not it’s that people are out on customer’s sites, so we’re very rarely all together, but you can’t beat being able to bounce ideas off somebody else.

Penny:

And I think that’s one of the things that I’ve missed, working from home, and definitely something I know the other consultants miss when you’re working on something, particularly in Salesforce and either you’re sort of scratching your head figuring out the best way of doing it, or you’re just stumped on actually something’s not performing as you expect it to, and it’s really nice just to be able to call someone else over and work on it together, and so I think that’s one of the things that we miss by not being together.

Penny:

But I also think there’s huge opportunity for us coming out of this. I remember a colleague of mine in one of my earliest Salesforce jobs saying that Salesforce is super successful when business is booming, because organisations want to invest in their technology and want to be at the cutting-edge, and then it’s also really successful when the economy’s in trouble because at that point organisations have no choice but to look to switch to digital systems instead of their traditional ways of working.

Penny:

And I think that where for most of us it’s been kind of easy to make that switch to working from home, I know there are a lot of companies that have struggled, where maybe their VPN has got capacity for 30% of their workforce to be at home at any one time, and suddenly when that’s 100% of people that’s a real problem, and maybe they’re on a different type of CRM and actually going through this and coming out the other end, I would imagine a lot of organisations, particularly in the private sector, will do a review of what worked well and not so well, and look at maybe procuring new systems.

Penny:

So optimistically we can hope that there might be a real good bounce for Salesforce projects on the back of this.

Theresa:

Yeah cool, and what about you Simon? Did you have anything to add to that? I don’t know whether your team are quite remote or not, but-

Simon:

Yeah, I mean very similar to what’s been said, you know, we’re used to working remotely, going to the office is normally a bit of a luxury and you know, a chance to interrupt people easier, I would say, when you’re in the office, but you know, because we’ve got a culture of working from home and using collaboration tools and things like that, then you know, those interrupts happen regularly anyway so you know, it’s encouraged for people to reach out and to ask for help at any point and any of the team will jump on and discuss a particular situation.

Simon:

So you know, utilising collaboration tools has been key, but you know, we operate as a business where even before this current situation, where we’re going in and advising customers how to drive adoption of Salesforce, how to make the user experience the best possible, and how to help people actually in the application where they want the help and guidance and access to training.

Simon:

So all it’s done for us is accelerate those conversations you know? And help those businesses that aren’t used to that environment, aren’t used to people, you know, being remote, help them understand that actually the steps in order to get there aren’t too many steps, and if you just take it one step at a time and take advantage of the Salesforce tool for how good it is, and if they can invest in an extra tool, then of course then we can make that even better.

Simon:

But at the end of the day there are some simple things that customers can be doing to make a significant difference, and quite often customers just can’t see the wood of the trees on some of those steps, you know? So we’ve been offering a lot of guidance along the last few weeks, just with even existing customers, how to just do things more effectively, more efficiently, and share experiences from other customers … what’s been working with other customers with some of the other customers.

Theresa:

Great-

Lee:

I was going to ask … because Simon that you had this sort of free offering in this current period, and I think Penny you mentioned that [inaudible 00:46:51] are doing this trailblazer thing, do any of you know of any other sort of Salesforce initiatives where they’re offering something kind of free or greatly reduced rate in this period? [crosstalk 00:47:03] It would be great if you know of any [crosstalk 00:47:04].

Simon:

A lot of partners are doing things, there’s Salesforce have set up a COVID-19 resource centre page, which is available from their salesforce.com homepage. We’re on that alongside, there must be 20 other ISPs and consulting partners that are on that COVID-19 page.

Simon:

So Salesforce have done their own initiative around that, and they’ve selected certain partners to help customers, but we know that there’s a huge demand of customers … sorry, ISPs and partners to try and get on there, so that’s worth looking at, the COVID-19 pages of Salesforce to get some steer on those businesses that are offering extra things.

Theresa:

Okay.

Lee:

[inaudible 00:47:40].

Theresa:

Just … I mean obviously we’re … you know, technology plays a big part in when you suddenly have to change your whole way of working, so you know, companies that are predominantly in the office to suddenly being outside the office, when it comes to like the softer side of managing remote workers such as actually managing people themselves, do you guys have any tidbits that you can share because there’s still going to be lots of Salesforce customers out there that go, “Brilliant, I’ve got the technology, but how do I actually go physically about managing people remotely?” So do you have anything that you could share with us?

Penny:

For me, I think that really depends on the type of organisation that you have, so I’m sure some of the others will feel the same way that with Salesforce there’s always that push and pull between controlling people and enabling people.

Penny:

And I think that for managers who are maybe … I think somebody used the call centre example earlier, who are used to being on site with people, that change to remote can challenge that balance, and I think that’s a tough thing to get right.

Penny:

I mean for us in our company there are a couple of things that we’ve done, so you know, we are quite a young company, among my consultants our average age is probably only 24 or 25, so we have a stand-up at half-past-eight every morning that’s on Zoom where we all talk about what we’re working on during the day and if we need any help, and then at half-past-five at night we do a similar session that’s just for fun.

Penny:

So we’ll play some games, we’ve been doing like the baby game, so somebody collects all of our baby photos and then we all guess who the baby is and that’s [crosstalk 00:49:17] quizzes, and we’ve also done like a couple of pranks as well, so we did one the other week where I got everybody to dial in early for our morning call, and we all had Matt’s face as the background [crosstalk 00:49:35].

Lee:

Oh I saw that on LinkedIn, yeah.

Penny:

We all ducked and it was just this sea of himself, which of course he loved [inaudible 00:49:41] so trying to kind of keep some fun and keep us like gelled as a team, especially because we also had two brand new starters, so a little bit like Vera’s experience, it’s a really tough time to join a company, so we tried to enable them to feel part of things.

Penny:

So I guess that’s what to do to try and replicate what it is that you have in real life, online, rather than to try and change things. To suddenly … if you’re a very trusting environment, to become suspicious, this is really the wrong time to make those kind of changes, you want to try and keep it the same as much as possible I would recommend.

Theresa:

Yeah okay.

Lee:

Brilliant.

Penny:

So Gemma, I’m sure I saw you doing something great on LinkedIn as well, because training and learning and collaborating, I’m sure I saw you were doing something brilliant [inaudible 00:50:31].

Gemma:

So this is more about a coping mechanism because my little girl has just come home after five weeks spent off being with her father, we had agreed between us that it was best to kind of weather the storm that way because he was able to teach her during the day and I really wasn’t in a position to do that.

Gemma:

Something’s happened, he must have got fed up or something [inaudible 00:50:54] with me, but in that time as a coping mechanism being alone in a house with my cats, you know, to prevent myself from becoming 100% cat lady, but also in an attempt … I actually saw people suffering on … I was on my local Facebook page for my town and there were lots of people who had been laid off, made unemployed and unable to really fill that space, so I saw them suffering and decided that I wasn’t going to let them do that, and that the nice balance between helping them to emerge stronger on the other side versus, you know, me tearing my hair out because I’m sick of watching Tiger King over and over again, would be to actually invest some of my time.

Gemma:

I give four hours a week now to teach people Salesforce from scratch, so we’re now in week five, it’s very, very informal, and it’s just going through Trailhead in a guided way so that it’s not just, “Do this badge, do this badge, do this badge,” and you feel like you’re on your own, it’s, “Let’s do custom fields,” and I had a customer that once came to me and said, “I want a checkbox that does this,” you know, and then you start kind of getting them to think about yes, it’s easy to do, but why are you doing it? And you know, how can you prevent failure and stuff, so it’s the kind of architect’s view of how to learn Salesforce from scratch, but actually think beyond the technology and think about what value you’re giving at the same time.

Theresa:

Okay fantastic. Sounds really good.

Lee:

Yeah.

Theresa:

It was actually one of the questions we were going to ask, and-

Lee:

Our whole plan is out the window, you guys have just gone through all these questions already, so that’s why I keep looking down. Did anybody else have any points on that though, because there’s some really good point there, I [inaudible 00:52:43] Simon, Vera [inaudible 00:52:43].

Vera:

This is a really simple one, and this is coming obviously from somebody who’s in a role where they don’t know anyone, but turning your camera on, you’d be surprised how many of these calls happen just over voice and not necessarily, you know, being able to see people and I think someone made the point earlier, if you’ve already had established relationships then it’s fine, because you kind of understand how people work and their tone and their demeanour, but I think especially in these times where there are a lot of people who are isolating by themselves, or don’t have a lot of interaction outside of the calls that they have during their work day, I think it makes such a difference to just turn the camera on.

Vera:

Even if you are not, you know, ready to do so. There’s definitely been times where I ambitiously wake up early and decide that I’m going to do 17 things before I jump on a Zoom call, and I get on not necessarily pleased with what I see on the screen, but I do think it’s important that you know, we’re making those connections.

Theresa:

[crosstalk 00:53:50] Sorry, go on.

Simon:

I was just going to say I think the important thing I’ve noticed is the acceptance of when people turn on the camera it’s now okay to not be in a shirt, not look smart, or be in your child’s bedroom when you’re on the camera, you know? Children coming and going, I’m hoping that’s going to be something, to Vera’s point, that’s a lasting change, because I think it was frowned upon before if you’re working from home and you had the camera … you didn’t want to put the camera on because perhaps you might have been propped up and using an ironing board as a desk or something or [inaudible 00:54:22] you know?

Simon:

And I think that’s something we’re seeing, you know, Vera I absolutely see the same now, standard practise now, turn on the camera and it encourages other people to turn on the camera too, and it doesn’t matter what people are dressed like or what they’re looking like, or how crazy pets, or cats, or kids are doing.

Lee:

We had this chat yesterday Simon, didn’t we? Something you mentioned, it’s about even watching celebrities now doing things like this and people like Martin Clunes was sitting there in his yesterday being interviewed, and all these glamorous people that all of a sudden can’t … they haven’t got the makeup artists, and it’s okay, you know? Hopefully that would be the new norm. Sorry Gemma.

Gemma:

I think it brings us back to our humanity which is ultimately the most important thing that we have, right? And actually there’ve been many times that I have felt … and certainly a lot of people who have experienced trauma in their lives, can feel quite isolated as a result of that trauma because their perspective has been changed, and now we’re all experiencing this international trauma right now, you know, I think that … there are many days I wake up thankful for the fact that I am not ill anymore, and I’m very grateful for that day-in, day-out, and then you see other people getting angry about such small things and you just kind of think, “Well, at least you’re alive, nobody’s died.”

Gemma:

And sometimes I think that, yes, this is an awful time, a national crisis, ridiculous, but out of every crisis, if you look over the centuries of history, has come a renaissance, and as part of that renaissance I would like to see our society treating one another more fairly, being more forgiving of one another, and actually understanding the fact that you are a human, that you do have other responsibilities, that your work is not the only thing that you do, you know? You cats still need feeding.

Theresa:

Yes.

Gemma:

It’s important, and there’s this stoic sense of humour that has persisted throughout this crisis too, I mean the memes that are coming out are just amazing.

Lee:

Oh I love that group that you shared, it’s brilliant. It does cheer me up.

Theresa:

Yes.

Lee:

On that subject, again we’re going all over the place a little bit, but do any of you have any little things that you’ve sort of reconnected with thanks to this, if you know what I mean? Like being able to go outside and hear the birds singing because there’s no cars on the roads. Little things like that, do any of you have any thoughts on that?

Simon:

Certainly been taking more phone calls in the garden.

Lee:

Yeah.

Theresa:

Yeah it is nice.

Penny:

For me, it would sound … I guess maybe it sounds a bit cheesy, but it’s time with my daughter, I mean she’s going to turn 17 soon and she’s never really been one for hanging out with me a lot, but we’ve been playing board games and stuff like that because she can’t go out with her friends and she’s not working.

Penny:

So yeah, we’ve had several evenings where we’ve either watched telly together or we’ve playing Monopoly several times, and Othello, and those are things that I could barely get her to do when she was a little girl, let alone now, so having that time, because you know, especially as your children are older, you don’t have that many years left when they’re going to be at home with you, so it’s a special thing and not something I’d imagined I was going to get. Like exactly like Gemma said, nobody saw this coming, so I would never have thought I’d have this time with her and that’s been really precious and an unexpected joy from [inaudible 00:57:59].

Lee:

That’s a nice way [inaudible 00:57:59].

Theresa:

I agree with you, I mean I think that we personally have been phoning more people more often than we would have done before-

Lee:

I’m answering my phone to my mum and dad, you know, I never do that, so it’s-

Theresa:

They’re going to hear that now [crosstalk 00:58:11].

Lee:

They won’t know to watch this. They won’t … and Vera you bought a dog didn’t you?

Vera:

I did.

Lee:

Did you tell me you bought a puppy in amongst all this [inaudible 00:58:18]?

Vera:

I did. Well it’s funny, because we’ve been debating. We had a puppy … we had a dog about three years ago, and since him we’ve been debating, you know, when are we going to get a dog? When’s the right time between work and the kids and everything else? You know, it just never felt appropriate, and literally I remember it was a couple of days before lockdown, and there were rumours that we were going to be stuck at home, and I called my husband and I said, “I’ve decided we’re getting a puppy. If we’re going to do it, this is the time to do it.”

Vera:

And it was a bit of an impulse purchase, I think when everyone else was panic-buying toilet paper I was out [crosstalk 00:58:55].

Theresa:

Buying dogs.

Vera:

Because yeah, we found her-

Lee:

Oh right the little [inaudible 00:58:59] one. The little … which kind of dog is it?

Vera:

She’s a French bulldog [crosstalk 00:59:04] yeah, should have, in tribute, but no, we found her and picked her up in 24 hours, and she’s definitely … she’s kept us busy [inaudible 00:59:15] when I decided that I was on garden leave, which seemed like a great idea, and I’ve got all the time in the world, and then when I went back to work it was like, “Okay, this is a little small, alive thing that we have to now keep track of.”

Vera:

It is funny, because on some of the calls you do hear like this dog running across the room, people are like, “Is that okay?” I’m like, “Well, I think it is. Just one second, let me check.”

Theresa:

Well it’s nice that people are actually going that you need to go and sort that out.

Vera:

Yeah, and … you know, to your point Simon, people I think are really understanding of life in this environment and I think, you know, everybody understands that we’re all vulnerable, you know? And there’s a lot that I think you see people doing to make sure that from a leadership perspective that’s coming down right? You know, the calls that I’m on, everyone’s kids are in the background and no one’s kind of sheltering anybody from that.

Vera:

The best I saw was that someone had put a … had built themselves this kind of makeshift tent in the garden as their new office, so when you see him he’s got like tarps and things behind him, I was like, “Are you okay? Are you like self-isolating in like an army bunker or something?” And he’s like, “No,” he’s like, “But,” he’s like, “I’ll be honest it’s the first time in my life that I’ve realised I have too many kids, and I just can’t escape them. So I’ve positioned myself in the garden the furthest away in hopes of getting some work done.”

Theresa:

It’s bizarre isn’t it how people can suddenly feel more human, because let’s face it, we all have personal lives, but for some reason that had to be hidden away when you’re on business calls, whereas now we can actually just … I have a family, I have pets, I have perhaps an elderly parent that wants to walk into the room in the background, and that’s just the way life is, so yeah-

Gemma:

As long as your camera’s off at strategic times you’re good. We’ve all seen it happen.

Lee:

Oh yeah.

Theresa:

Yes.

Lee:

Oh God, yeah I’ve seen that one. Toby how are you mate? Have you reconnected with some sort of hobby maybe, or something that you had let go?

Toby:

Yeah no, I think that there’s been a lot more conversation and chat with friends and I think like yourself Lee, mother tends to phone quite a lot and she’s done it all my [crosstalk 01:01:32] at inopportune moments during meetings and so on and so forth, but I now answer the calls, but that’s one of the things that maybe should stop going forward when we come out of this, but yeah, just keep her at arm’s length.

Toby:

But no, connecting with friends, I mean as a said, I moved back from Switzerland, bought a house, so you know, lost a job, all those great things happened, but I’m fortunate that I do have a roof over my head, I do have … you know, the fact that I have nothing to sit on because I can’t get a sofa, and my mattress is on the floor, but it’s far better than lots of other people have, and there’s an appreciation of that, you know, what you actually have in life.

Toby:

And you know, many, many moons ago I was in the military, so I’ve seen things that … you know, it sort of rekindled all … you know, friendships from long time ago that I’ve reconnected with many people on that front from the military, but also experiences of hardship and seeing things that weren’t necessarily what we’re going through at the moment, but it does bring to the fore a lot more empathy, a lot more of the softer skills that probably…

Toby:

… a lot more of the softer skills that probably I haven’t recognised that I might’ve had many, many moons ago. But to pick up on one point that was mentioned earlier, I think a lot of this is, and the way we’re going to get through it, and certain companies are going to get through it and far better than others, is down to leadership and how people are still managing and still continuing with, I’m going to use the term, setting an example, and I don’t necessarily mean that goes against the grain of many things that was said here in terms of how people dress on calls and I think there are, different organisations operate in different ways. I think there are different approaches. Those boundaries have clearly all gone out the windows.

Toby:

Now, I don’t have any experiences [inaudible 01:03:49] other than this one and a couple of others. But I did put a shirt on and I did have a shave but again, some of that comes down to just you as an individual as well. And I don’t necessarily think, there was no way I was going to come on call and have the beard that I had on Sunday. That is my professional pride and that’s not going to change through this. But lots of things I get and I see and I think this will be part of the brave new world that we all face going forward as well.

Theresa:

Thank you.

Lee:

Brilliant.

Theresa:

I suppose a question, and this will probably be very relevant for you, Toby, given your situation at the moment, but if I ask the other guys here, what would be the best advice that you could give to people that would find themselves in this situation where maybe they’re between jobs. How could they potentially position themselves so they come back stronger and hopefully set themselves up to get a job very quickly, as soon as things start to move. Has anybody got any advice for perhaps people who are in that position at the moment and are probably concerned about what the future has in store for them. Don’t know if anyone wants to take that?

Simon:

I think there’s plenty of businesses that are still recruiting out there. If you are between jobs, look about. Get your name out there, get on LinkedIn, have a look around. I see it day in, day out. Even in the current climate, maybe more so in our ecosystem. But you know, in the Salesforce world business goes on, business will go on. There’s a lot of companies that are looking beyond the current situation as we’ve been discussing and people recruiting. So I would encourage people not let the current situation stop them looking for that next great job that they want to get.

Theresa:

Okay. Yeah.

Vera:

And I think we’re really fortunate to be part of the Salesforce ecosystem because with Trailhead, everybody has the opportunity to up skill and re skill and it is such a, it’s made for this, right? It’s self paced. It’s at home. There’s no setup. It’s almost like a Joe Wicks workout, [crosstalk 01:06:06] no equipment.

Vera:

But I do think that people should take advantage of really, certifications, badges. Salesforce is so great at giving us a forum, A, for people like Gemma to help folks out and get practical experience in all of this, but also recognition, right? You know, you want A, to learn new skills, but also you want to feel like you’re a part of something in that environment. And I think that Trailhead is exactly what people should be looking at to do both those things.

Theresa:

Yeah. Fantastic.

Penny:

Well, I mean for me, my heart goes out to anybody who’s in that situation right now because it’s great to hear that optimism from Simon, but I think recruitment definitely is flat lined in general. You know, and then maybe Salesforce is slightly protected from that.

Penny:

But when you look at all of the businesses that just aren’t operating at all. Primark said they’ve gone from doing 730 million a month to zero so that, them and all their supply chain are then companies that probably just aren’t hiring. And when you magnify that by the number of businesses impacted, I think it is a really tough and probably quite a frightening time to be without a job.

Penny:

And I think if that was me, I would be trying to rewrite my CV. I would be walking into the supermarkets trying to get a job as many hours as I can get. I would be looking at whether I can get a driving job from Ocado or Amazon or somebody. And I think for anyone who’s in that situation, don’t be boxed in by what you know and what you do, you can easily turn your hand to doing different things.

Penny:

And what you do as a stop gap to get through a difficult few months doesn’t necessarily impact your future career. If we fast forward to six or nine months and I’m looking to hire a senior Salesforce consultant, the fact that somebody spent four or five months working in Tescos during this time is not going to inhibit my desire to hire them. In fact, quite the opposite.

Penny:

So for anybody who’s in that situation at the moment, don’t let that demoralise you, I’d say. But I think some of the other points, so for people who have the luxury of not having to do that. Then I think training, developing, broadening their skills is really important and there’s a lot online that’s great right now and I think Salesforce certifications and Trailhead is important. My one tip would be if you’re going to book a certification, but even the online ones are really fully booked right now.

Penny:

You’re going to need to book probably an exam like middle or end of May, because they’re so busy. So be aware of that. But then don’t just think about certs either. There’s lots of great agile courses, there’s project management certifications. And definitely when I’m looking to hire people, I want to know that they can talk to customers, understand the organisations and have that broad range of skills, not just the Salesforce sets. So yeah, I think it is a tough time and we just have to hope that we get through this and those of us running small businesses certainly want us to get through this as soon as we can.

Theresa:

Thanks Penny, that’s great. Yeah. What were you going to say something Gemma?

Gemma:

I think, I forgot what I was going to say. But Penny actually, I find what Penny said quite inspiring. And the same with Vera too because you’re right, it is a great time to reflect and to invest time in ourselves, especially that we can’t invest a lot of time in our business development, et cetera at the moment. So actually, that got me thinking around the mindset of employers as well and how employers at this time could consider the resilience and the get up and go that candidates have, going forward because of the crisis. So I think that’s really important.

Lee:

Yeah, brilliant.

Theresa:

Yeah nice, thank you. I mean they’re all very good comments and I suppose the thing there really is, it’s just making the best use of the time that we have rather than sort of sitting there feeling sorry for ourselves, which is sometimes, there are people out there that probably will do that. Whereas actually if you’re remaining proactive in what you’re spending your time on, then that’s going to be recognised by a future employer moving forward. That you’ve spent that time wisely rather than perhaps just sun baking in the garden.

Gemma:

And I suppose using your network as well, and actually getting over yourself, in order to do that. There’s a couple of, a mentor said to me recently, you should tap up this person. I’m like, I don’t think I should, because then it looks like I’m asking for too much. And he was just like, “Okay, when you get over that, can you call me back?”

Lee:

This is related to the email to Mark Benioff [inaudible 01:11:24] didn’t you?

Gemma:

I might’ve done, ages ago.

Lee:

Yeah [inaudible 01:11:29] and you got a response then didn’t you?

Gemma:

Yeah, I did. Yeah, around the business actually. I actually said I’m thinking of starting a business. I figured if anyone would know, like be able to give me tips, it would be someone who started a business themselves like, “Hey, you started a business.” [inaudible 01:11:49]

Theresa:

I mean I do see the biggest accomplishment that comes from when you take yourself outside your comfort zone. So it’s a prime example there that you have to go and do something that often is not your most comfortable thing. But once you’ve done it, actually you realise that what you’ve gained from that experience, is it, far outweighs the minuscule feeling you had at the beginning.

Gemma:

And even if they say no, someone eventually will say yes. So you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Lee:

Exactly.

Theresa:

Absolutely. Fantastic.

Lee:

So to end on a high note, I guess. And I think we probably covered it already, but if anyone’s got any finals, little tips of what they think perhaps the future of Salesforce might look like after we’re through this. I know it wasn’t a question I asked, I don’t think, but we might have already touched on it, but does anyone have any sort of final thoughts on where we might be in six or 12 months as an ecosystem in the UK or other than that?

Gemma:

We were having-

Penny:

[crosstalk 01:12:44] I’ve been super, Oh, go on. Go ahead.

Gemma:

Was going to say, we were having a conversation before. I was having a conversation with a contact of mine and he was saying that he thinks that given the very, very quick digital, reactive digital transformations that are going on, if anything, business continuity planning is going to become a priority once people are back on their feet and that digital transformations themselves will boom. And I think given the ecosystem that we work in, that is also going to provide a great deal of opportunity for us and our Renaissance if you like.

Theresa:

Okay. Thank you.

Lee:

Perfect. So Penny, you were going to say something as well?

Penny:

Oh yeah, I was going to say, I agree with Gemma. I think that coming out of this, making the business case to invest in moving to the cloud in digital transformation becomes a no brainer, right? For the next probably five years or longer, people will remember this and it becomes a great reason to do something different. I’m being super optimistic. Let’s hope maybe, we’ve had a really quiet March and April. Usually July and August are very quiet. Maybe they won’t be. Maybe the business that we would have been doing now we’re going to do in July and August and we’ll pick up and we’ll end the year on a high and that’s my optimism for this year.

Penny:

And then longterm, I think there’s some reasons to be optimistic. One small thing that I know Lee, you and I were talking about the other day, is that I wonder whether customers, especially with the IR35 thing being pushed back for a year, so not companies like us doing Salesforce projects and transformations, but whether the end customers might be more inclined to take contractors on, over the short term rather than add to headcount. Just because it is going to be a bumpy ride coming out of this.

Penny:

And for some of them they might not want to take the risk of full time employees. So I think we might see an increase in in- house contractors, but that I think in general Salesforce is going to grow a lot and it should be a really good time for us coming out of this. I hope.

Theresa:

Fantastic. [crosstalk 01:14:56] Simon, Vera did you have anything to add there?

Lee:

And Toby as well.

Theresa:

And Toby, yeah [inaudible 01:15:00].

Simon:

I think the only thing I’d add is I think we’re probably a good few weeks away from businesses generally being in a steadier state for them to be able to really have any comfort of what the next few months are going to be like. I think, yes, I’m very optimistic about things. But then I find ourselves in a world where we support remote workers and the demand has gone absolutely crazy for us, from partners, mainly reaching out to us saying customers are asking how to support remote work and so for me it’s about growth over the next two, three months.

Simon:

But I’m going to be very steady with it in terms of how we do that and how we recruit people. I historically love recruiting people who’ve got no previous Salesforce experience at all. In fact, our top two salespeople, one used to be a British super bike rider and the other one used to work in insurance and they’re our top sales people. So for me, I’m always looking for people who’ve got the right attitude and abilities and probably desires and passion to do something differently. So, I think we’re a couple of months out really before we will know what the end looks like, if it’s going to be there. And I don’t want that to sound like doom and gloom, but it’s a mixed bag out there at the moment with everyone I talk to.

Theresa:

Okay, thank you.

Lee:

Yeah, thank you. Vera, Toby did you have anything to add?

Vera:

I agree. I think we will see a bounce in the Salesforce market for sure. I think transformation projects will be, to Penny’s point, front and centre in people’s mindset both for business continuity and resilience planning. And I think Simon’s right. I think the workforce will change and I think people will be more open to recruiting in different ways, looking at remote workers, flexible workers. I think you’ll see a bigger focus on veterans and moms and you know, the workforces that we were trying to get back into the Salesforce ecosystems that were really just in their infancy in terms of programmes to help them do that. I think all of that will grow exponentially on the back of this, I hope.

Theresa:

Good.

Lee:

Toby?

Toby:

Yeah, no, I’d just reiterate, I think, whatever everybody else has said and I think the point about IR35, I think is a very good one. I think with that being pushed back by a year, that does open up lots of flexibility in the recruitment [inaudible 01:17:41]. And Lee, you and I have had discussions about that and different approaches that how suddenly providing services, you can offer your services in a different way than you maybe would historically have done. So I think that’s all definitely positive with respect to Salesforce, I mean, speaking to some people at Salesforce, it seems to me like that there are clearly some significant winners in where we are at the moment, who are big users, the different segments of industry who are clearly leveraging the demand that we’re seeing that we haven’t seen before. Like online retail.

Toby:

And I think with all of this, there will be some, a lot of companies that fall by the wayside because they haven’t been able to adapt as quickly. They haven’t been able to change. They haven’t been able to empower people. They haven’t been able to take some of these significant strategic decisions in a very short timescale. Primark is a great example, whereas there are loads of organisations who’ve gone 100% online and still delivering and still getting things outside, out the door. Delivery companies. They will be going through the roof. We all know what’s happened with Amazon and their share price in the last three or four months. So I think things will definitely change. To iterate what everybody else has said. But I think going forward there will be some significant areas where Salesforce can certainly support different areas, whether they’ve probably been a bit static and a bit stagnant historically as well.

Theresa:

Okay. Thank you.

Lee:

Brilliant. Thanks very much guys, unless anyone has anything else to say. I appreciate we’ve taken up an hour and a half of your time. Well that’s gone quick. Obviously thanks very much to all of you for contributing and we’ll get this out there for you and hopefully the wider Salesforce ecosystem will really appreciate it as well. So thanks. Thanks so much for joining us guys. And…

Theresa:

Yeah, well just all unique experiences there, and I think there’s going to be so many people that are going to take something from what you guys have said so thank you very much. I’m sure it’s going to be inspiring for a lot of people out there.

Gemma:

Same here. Everybody has said something inspiring as well that I can take away, so thank you for that.

Lee:

Brilliant. Okay, thanks very much then guys. [crosstalk 01:19:58].

Theresa:

Take care, stay safe. Bye. [crosstalk 01:20:02]

2020-04-29T15:18:16+00:00 Career, Podcast|

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