Natasha first discovered Salesforce when she was a Freelance Marketer in London. Now she is freelance Salesforce Consultant based and living in Australia with her husband and three children.
Natasha is a Salesforce Admin and recently participated in our Consultancy Skills Programme to upskill in her as Salesforce professional. Listen to her story and the range of experience she has gathered to enable her to be both a Marketer and a freelance Salesforce Consultant.
How did you get into Salesforce / find out about the Supermums courses?
I got into Salesforce almost by chance in my early days of freelance marketing in London, not long after the birth of my first child. I just happened to be the most techie person in the room when one of my clients was looking to introduce Salesforce. I took on a project manager role for that implementation, working with an agency to set up the system, and was able to go on from there to help introduce and improve Salesforce databases for my other clients.
I moved from London to Geelong, Australia in 2015, and started to increasingly work in Salesforce systems – in my day job, as a freelancer and as a volunteer for Geelong Mums (their parent organisation, St Kilda Mums, has an amazing Salesforce volunteering program). However, being in a regional town and being mum to three children, I struggled to get to any Salesforce events. I think I came across Supermums when I was searching Facebook for Salesforce communities that I could join and participate in remotely. I have been a mentor for three Supermums Admin course attendees so far and was thrilled when I heard that a Supermums Consultancy Course was available.
What were you doing before transitioning to a Salesforce career / starting a Supermums course?
My undergraduate degree was in web design and multimedia, so I started my career building websites and other digital platforms for charities and government agencies in New Zealand and Australia, before we moved to the UK in 2006. In London, I made the move into digital marketing, working as a Marketing Manager and Communications Project Roles for YouthNet and the NSPCC, before the birth of my daughter in 2006. Looking for a more flexible career, I made the decision to switch to freelancing. Initially I did a bit of everything – social media support for bands and accountants, digital strategies for cafes, web content for medical charities, and a Salesforce database project. However, after a year or so, I settled into digital marketing and database work for the health and nonprofit sectors.
How was the process of making that change / career pivot? Where there skills and knowledge that transferred particularly well? If you feel you can, include anything you found challenging and how you overcame it.
Having worked in the charity sector for a decade really helps me with my current freelance work. It has given me an understanding of what these clients want to achieve, what they need to report on, some of the inherent stresses of their work, allowing me create a Salesforce solution that helps meet their goals.
Coming into Salesforce the way I did, without having experience at an agency or setting out to do this as a career, I do feel isolated at times and it’s harder when things go wrong. I’ve become very good at searching the Salesforce Trailblazer Community, and it’s been great to have the Supermums course leaders and participants to discuss ideas with about being a consultant and the issues that arise there.
Can you share a little about your experience of the course(s)? What was the best thing about it and what was the most challenging?
I signed up for the Salesforce Consultancy Programme in 2020 because I felt this was the year to expand my freelance work. I had been working with three organisations regularly on their Salesforce implementations, and was invited to speak on integrated systems at the National Community Foundations Forum in South Australia last October. This year, I have started working with another four not-for-profit clients, either in a Salesforce implementation or training role
The Salesforce Consultancy Programme has given me a greater knowledge of the theory that backs up a consultancy practice – from agile methodology to change management – but also practical terminology, documentation, and processes to use, especially in the early days of working with these new clients. Despite the fact that the calls with Heather and the course participants took place in the evening, I looked forward to them as a useful sounding board to address issues I was facing with current projects and also to reflect on issues from my past work.
The most challenging thing has been to fit in the course during 2020, when suddenly I was also supervising remote learning for my children. It was great to have the course materials on video, that I could watch in short bursts of free time.
What do you think is great about the Supermums programme and why do you think people should do it?
Doing the Supermums Salesforce Consultancy Course has been a great opportunity to reflect on my current consultancy practice and how I work with my clients. It’s given me confidence to describe and work using Agile methodologies in implementation projects, and a number of useful tools to gather and document initial requirements and changes throughout the project lifecycle. It’s the next step beyond the technical skills that you can achieve on a Salesforce certification course or Trailhead – it focuses on the skills you need to work with others to make a project happen.
Where do you work now?
I work two days a week as Marketing Manager and System Administrator for a research and training institute here in Geelong. Around that, I have my own freelance consultancy, working with not-for-profits who are using or introducing Salesforce. Within this work, I do a mix of Salesforce set-up, third-party integrations, training and database maintenance.
Do you work flexibly?
Yes, at the moment, I’m doing my ‘two day a week’ part time job, spread across the week on three hours a day. I’ve only been into the office once since the middle of March. The freelancing is also very flexible, and often is done once the children are asleep in the evenings or when my toddler is napping during the middle of the day.
What do you do in a typical day?
It really varies. Today I’ve been setting up a Facebook advertising campaign and linking e-newsletter sign-ups from that through to SalesCloud and then MarketingCloud, I’ve got a training session on list views and reports with a client this afternoon, and I’ve been emailing another potential client about an introductory call sometime next week. Tomorrow could be totally different.
What is the most challenging thing about your role?
The best and worst thing about my job is that it all comes back to me. At this stage, when it comes to the freelancing, I’m working for myself and therefore do everything from database set-up to client meetings to invoicing. This gives me a lot of freedom and flexibility, but it also means that I need to be constantly learning, and connecting with others so that I can overcome the challenges that arise.
What certification do you have and what are you working towards next?
I have my Certified Administrator and Certified Marketing Cloud Email Specialist. I’m also a Ranger on Trailhead. Next up is Salesforce Nonprofit Cloud Consultant, hopefully over the summer, as I seek to consolidate my work in this area.
What are your top tips for studying for Salesforce certifications? (you can be specific to those you have taken if you like)
Do the Trailmixes, talk to past participants, take advantage of Salesforce webinars and practice exams if they’re available, get practical experience of using the tools either through work or volunteering, and on the day, do the easy questions first, then come back to the harder ones.
What has been the biggest challenge in your Salesforce career so far?
The biggest challenge for me is – not being a developer – getting things to talk to each other, getting systems like online forms, ecommerce stores, accounts systems, event booking systems and so on, to communicate with Salesforce so that the end users can have that one view of their customers. Over time, I’ve learnt to select third-party products, in part, based on whether a native integration exists or the functionality available through integration tools such as Zapier.
What is your favourite thing about Salesforce?
I love the fact that Salesforce so customisable. The NPSP is a great base system for a lot of my clients, and the Setup functionality of Salesforce allows me to make changes both big and small to meet their individual organisation needs.
Salesforce also has a great community behind it, and there’s a lot of ways you can build and share your skills through Trailhead, volunteering to help out community organisations,
Who is your favourite Trailhead Character?
Astro. My toddler carries around an Astro soft toy I earned for completing badges at Salesforce World Tour Melbourne.
Is there anything else you would really like to tell people who are considering a career in Salesforce?
Working in Salesforce is really exciting. There’s always a lot to learn and ways to improve your practice, not matter what stage you’re at, and it’s really satisfying to be able to build a database that makes such a fundamental impact on the business function of the organisations you work with.