Episode 12: Jami Moore & Toni Martin

Tracie:

Hello everybody and welcome to the Traceability Podcast. I am your host, Tracie Edwards, and I’m so excited to have two guests with me today. First, we have Jami Moore from Massachusetts. Jami and I know each other through Laura Brandenburg’s Circle of Success program. Jami is a Salesforce business analyst for FinTech out there, so very excited to have Toni Martin with us today, and Toni is a well known Salesforce business analyst and consultant running her own company as well as helping with Laura Brandenburg in Bridging The Gap. So very happy to have both of you here. I’d like to just start out, and maybe Toni, we can start with you and then go to Jami, and tell me how you got your start as a BA. It’s not a typical career path, shall we say?

Toni:

Sure, so thank you for having me here. I’m super excited to talk to your audience and always great to talk shop with other Salesforce BA. The way that I got my start was I was approaching a milestone birthday and just evaluated my life and was like “What am I doing? This is not…” I was working in marketing and public relations for a really small boutique firm and I wasn’t making the money that I wanted to and I wasn’t feeling the career satisfaction that I had hoped to have at that age, and I thought about things that I had done in my past that might be a better fit and I have worked with Salesforce in the sales enablement kind of role and I was like “You know what? That was my most fun job.”

Toni:

I really liked that platform, I started researching, fell down the rabbit hole, got it plugged in with my Atlanta Women In Tech user group, and as I was kind of studying for the admin exam and just wasn’t necessarily feeling like that was the best fit, I explained to our user group leader Bethany first, I’m a problem solver, I love really helping businesses and departments solve these problems, and she said, “You should be a business analyst,” and my response was “Oh no, I can’t do that” because I felt like it was something that you had to be certified in or you had to have a degree or some type of background, but as I started to research the role and really immerse myself in Laura Brandenburg’s materials and got more plugged into the Salesforce community and saw that this was a viable path and that there were lots of opportunities when you bridge your transferable skills with the BA role, I was like, “This is the perfect fit for me.”

Toni:

So I set that at my sight and was just able to start off with kind of contract work and started to brand myself as a business analyst, and when I got the actual title, that was when I said, “Okay, I’m a Salesforce BA.” That’s how I ended up where I am today.

Tracie:

That’s a great story. Jami, I think yours is a bit similar as far as sort of a dissatisfaction with where you initially were going.

Jami:

Yeah, absolutely. I actually was an administrative assistant and actually had almost a 20 year career as an administrative assistant working for various companies. I started off as a contractor working through various companies and then finally settled at a med device company quite a few years ago, and at one point in one of my previous companies, someone had said “I know you’re the project coordinator for our team, but you do realize you’re a business analyst, right?” And I went, “What in the world is a business analyst?”

Jami:

At the time, I couldn’t find any information online to tell me really what the skill sets were or what I would be doing as a business analyst, so I kind of put it to the side and continued along my admin career, but I had a life change where I had a relationship end and it was a big life change for me going back out on my own and at that point, I went, “Okay, this is ridiculous. I’m not where I need to be, I’m not satisfied in my career, I don’t want this to be anything I want to continue to do,” because I had no goals to get to that executive C-suite level of supporting somebody. Always knew I wanted to be in technology and behind the scenes, that’s like a personal thing, had been doing web design and other IT related things and finally said, “That’s it, I’m done. I am going to be a business analyst if it kills me and I need to figure this out.”

Jami:

At that same time, I had also met someone who was a project manager who was really able to explain to me what a business analyst does and how they interact with other project managers, and so from there, made the change to my resume, I found Laura’s website for Bridging The Gap and did some real deep dive soul searching and said “Okay, that’s it. Let’s update the resume.” Did some job shadowing at work, I was granted permission to actually do some job shadowing, did a hackathon, which was awesome, and signed up as a business analyst, wound up being the business analyst and developer, and then from there, did some stretch assignments and then had a boss who was my sponsor, so I had a bunch of mentors who were in our IT department telling me the right things to do as a BA, but then I had a boss who was my sponsor.

Jami:

When she realized that I had spent two years really trying to get over to our IT department and wasn’t getting anywhere, doing all the assignments, doing the hackathons, interviewing with people for real jobs plus informational interviews with people throughout the IT department, and I just wasn’t getting anywhere, so she went to the IT CIO and said “Listen, Jami has done everything that she needs to do to actually get over there and this is kind of ridiculous that we internally can’t figure out how to get her a position when she is a perfect fit for it,” and they ended up offering me to start a six month trial period as a business analyst to support one of our divisions and go in and prove that I could do the work, and so I ended up being a business analyst for the division as a whole, so lots of little projects to do all kinds of technology, but really my focus on a daily basis was being that Salesforce BA to help our scrum team really start to develop and dive into those solutions that they needed. That was kind of my career path so far.

Tracie:

So far, I like that. A couple of things that I want to get back to. Maybe Toni, I can have you speak to one and Jami the other one. A couple of things that I’m hearing is both of you have some commonality in the whole “I am the CEO of my own career. I need to decide what I want and make this happen,” and the other was that you both had mentors who were willing to kind of dig in with you, give you the guidance and the counsel that you needed. While you already had that mindset, they gave you ways to sort of focus that mindset for you, so maybe Toni, can you speak a little bit to the ownership of your career, and then maybe Jami, you can speak to the mentorship aspects.

Toni:

Sure. I think that the ownership piece is really, like you say, kind of looking out at the landscape, not being daunted despite the fact that maybe you don’t know anybody who have this title or you don’t have a wealth of information or a blueprint on how to actually get where you’re going, and that’s actually the reason why I started the community around Salesforce business analyst on the Trailblazer community as well as launching the Salesforce Business Analyst Virtual Summit because there was this lack of resources and just a community around doing this role and I knew that other people had to have the same questions and have the same needs that I had.

Toni:

By creating pretty much what I needed and wanted to see, I was able to expand my network and to be able to connect to more people who could kind of offer that guidance, but it really was testament to, as you said, in terms of being the CEO of your own career, in terms of there is no blueprint, there is no roadmap for this, I’m just going to take that next step and be undaunted and undeterred kind of as we heard from Jami’s story.

Tracie:

Love that. I want to make sure we start to talk about that concept of community. But Jami, mentors and the importance of mentorship.

Jami:

So very important. I had learned early in my admin career about having mentors, people who could really guide you as you went along, and it actually funneled into not only me getting mentors but also becoming a mentor, and it was something so important, something I love to do is really to not only have somebody help you up to the next level but then be able to go down and help somebody else come up to your level and then go further. What I found was as I struggled at times with concepts of things that I needed to do or new ideas even that I was coming up with and wanted to do something, reaching out to those people who could help me advance that skillset became hugely important.

Jami:

So there was a point where in my career, I was an admin and I got hired as a software developer within the same company, because we were kind of a little tiny division in the company, and I got mentors then kind of like “Hey, we’re going to put this person with you,” but it was really the start of how important a mentor was because we were working on some coding of converting a particular type of code to a new type of code, and without that person there to kind of show me what the old code was saying and then help me understand what we needed to do in the new code, there is no way I was ever going to be able to do it on my own.

Jami:

And then I translated that into my career of if I really want to go down this path of being a business analyst, I need people who are going to help me understand those concepts and those pieces that are going to be a little confusing at times that until I really get the practice in and really do it, I’m not going to truly know if I’m doing it in a manner that makes the most sense, and I shy away from saying “Right” because right is only how you do it.

Jami:

How you do it is the right way and so it really helped where during that hackathon that I did, the team that I was on, I started identifying in the group very quickly who were the people that I was going to keep in my circle as mentors, who are those people that are going to help me understand the concepts or allow me to go to them without fear of whether or not I was going to be right or wrong to ask those questions because I think that’s the biggest piece as a mentor is somebody you can talk to and they’re not going to be the ones that go “Hey, dummy, you should know this already.” That’s not their role. Their role is to say “You don’t know that and that’s okay, let me help you. Let me help you get there.”

Jami:

For me, it was hugely important, and even today, I still have mentors. I’m looking for new ones in the new company but I’ve kept the old mentors as well because as you grow and as you build those skillsets and as you build yourself because, and I love Toni that you said you are the CEO of your own life, your own career, those are the people who understand your past history and can understand where you have some of those blinders that you don’t necessarily pay attention to and can help you to kind of get around where you’re not seeing that roadblock that’s coming ahead. I find them extremely important, and they become your friends. They become the people… They are your tribe. That’s what I like to say. They are your tribe and those are the people you truly connect with.

Tracie:

Absolutely. Toni, I wanted to go back to this idea of community because I think so many of us on occasion sort of stay in our own heads as far as our careers go and we don’t always understand the importance of being involved in some type of supportive community. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Toni:

Again, for me, it was really a selfish need that I had to assemble a group of people who had the same interests and needs that I did that led me to create my own communities. However, in my kind of local user group circles, we have a good time. Like we hang out, so our events are pretty fun, so just being able to kind of go out and let your hair down and talk shop with people who are in the Ohana, that was a key support in my career, but then there’s also online communities. So there’s Twitter, there are the success group communities, Trailblazer communities, and I think that one thing that may intimidate people who are new to Salesforce or new to any role or kind of industry is the cliquish feeling.

Toni:

Within Salesforce, there’s the MVP program which recognizes a lot of evangelists and experts, and these people, you see them in videos and at Dreamforce and people are tweeting them and adding them and you might feel like “Okay, I don’t know these people, I’m new, I’m not really sure,” but I would just encourage everybody to kind of just throw yourself out there because people are really, really, really nice when it comes to what we do, and there’s tons of people. It doesn’t matter if they’ve been in the ecosystem for 15 years, or even, as Jami said, somebody who’s been there maybe a year and you’re just starting at zero. They would want to help you get to that year mark. So it’s important just to kind of put yourself out there and let people help you.

Toni:

I think a lot of us also being self taught, we’re very prideful in terms of, I can figure this out myself. I can research, I can ask Google and I’m going to put my head out and I’m going to muscle through this, but to share the vulnerabilities, like “Hey, I failed my admin exam a couple of times.” I tell people that and people are like “Oh, I did too,” like everybody does it. So you don’t know that until you open up and let other people help you with that, so I think the community piece is just jumping in and being vulnerable enough to say “Hey, I don’t know. Hey, I am new. Hey, I’m getting started. Hey, I am transitioning, moving from employee role to a contract role, or I’m going out on my own.” So just having that vulnerability to let yourself be a part of community is important.

Jami:

I love that because I would say I happen to know somebody who was one of those top tier people. She worked at my former company and it was hugely intimidating at times, not even just that she was getting tweeted or going up on stage at Dreamforce or going up on stage at the Salesforce Day in town, but then working with her and seeing that and it was like “Oh, that’s what I got to get to? Oh, okay. All right, let me up my game,” but you’re so right that the community itself is so extremely helpful, they all understand we’re all in the same boat, and if one of us fails, the rest of us fail. I love that idea that you’ve built your own community, I want to join it. I’m going to say right now, I want to join it.

Toni:

No red velvet rope. Everybody’s welcome.

Tracie:

The opposite is true as well, right? We all succeed if one of us succeeds. I think too, my involvement with IIBA and Circle of Success, and it’s really been sort of finding a tribe but also a way to add to my skillset, to put myself out there, to give myself new opportunities, to put myself in a more advantageous place than I was previously, and so yeah, I believe that having community is huge, and there comes a point where the commonalities in your own journeys kind of separate a little bit. So Toni, you have gone the contract and solo entrepreneur route versus Jami, you stayed more in the corporate kind of world. Obviously, there are advantages and disadvantages to both of those, but maybe Toni, talk about sort of what was going on with you that sort of lead you down that more independent journey.

Toni:

One of the things, and actually Jami’s story where, Jami, you talked about having a boss who supported what you did, made those connections, stood up for you and helped you, that has not been necessarily my experience, and as a result, for me, I think it’s just been more a fit for my personality, for my interests. I do love variety which is why I enjoy contracting. I like short contracts, I like to come into a new company and jump in and get my feet wet, make a difference, make an impact and then ride off into the sunset to the next project, I like that variety. But being able to do it from my own perspective, as I said, I come from a marketing background so I enjoy the marketing and the kind of content development and all of those pieces that are not anything to do with my day job as a business analyst, and I think for me, understanding that I wanted to bring all of those pieces together.

Toni:

So the event production with the Salesforce Business Analyst Virtual Summit, I just had to say “You know what? You can create your own dream role which still includes doing business analysis, it still includes contract work, it still can be part of me. I’m watching an area into implementing Salesforce essential fanned up,” so I’m like it can encompass all of that and I don’t have to kind of lead those pieces of me at the door when I come to work, so I’m not in the marketing department, I’m typically in IT, so it’s kind of being able to get my hands dirty in all of the areas that I enjoy. But also, as I said, I think if I had had stronger sponsorship within corporate America, then I would have probably stayed on that task, which is an unfortunate story that a lot of people have that they don’t have internal mentors and champions, and so they look for other opportunities.

Toni:

So it just was a better fit for me at this point. Not to say that I won’t find an opportunity to come back to corporate, but for now, it’s just kind of like I choose my own adventure that’s kind of drawing me forward on this path.

Tracie:

So much going on there, and I definitely agree as far as there are things that we need to… Tough choices that we need to think about as it comes to being involved in a corporate role and whether we’re advancing or not advancing and how that’s going to look for us and that kind of thing, and I think that really goes back to we are the CEOs of our careers and if we want to be successful, we need to make some of those hardened but often exciting decisions as your career has made evident, but at the same time, there’s a lot to be said for the stability of a corporate career. So Jami, do you want to talk about that a little bit?

Jami:

I think I flipped what Toni did because I did contract work for a very long time before I settled into corporate and I learned some things about who I was and what worked for me, and one of the things that I know is I don’t do small companies. I have a harder time in small companies and if I can’t do a small company, I can’t do my own. I did my own for a little bit, right? I own my own web design company and I just realized that it wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. I think it’s a choice for everybody, but just like Tony talked about, one of the things that I struggled with for a very long time was having managers and people in the company who were supportive, and unfortunately, that is very true of corporate is that until you find those people who are willing to be on your side and be supportive of you, it can be very lonely and take a lot out of you, and a lot of people do make that choice of going away.

Jami:

What I love about corporate is the structure. What I found was, for me personally, when I had a problem internally, I had HR and I had other areas of people I could go to kind of help along those paths. It didn’t always work. There were plenty of companies I had to leave because it didn’t work, but for me, it came down to the choice of stability of healthcare and pay and all of those things because I started family life pretty early, I had some really serious relationships very early on and so when I was looking at what’s the most stable for our family, I had to make the choice to stay within corporate and couldn’t go out on my own, but I also recognized through all of that that I’m not an entrepreneur. I don’t like [inaudible 00:23:26]. I didn’t like that piece of it and I liked having people in a team, in a company where I could kind of rely on other people taking care of the legal and the compliance and the regulatory and the marketing and all of those pieces that I didn’t have to do myself.

Jami:

I am totally envious of people who go out on their own and do it all themselves because I think it’s such a tremendous skillset to be able to do it, but it wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. There may come a point where I go into consulting, and I’ve talked with Laura about this a little bit about how for me, consulting is more of a retirement plan, right? When I get to that level of I’m ready to retire, then I can start talking about consulting because then for me, the hope is I’m much more stable, but for now, corporate is my life, and not to say that that won’t change in a couple of years, but that’s where I am right now. I think the benefit is you get the ability to play a little bit without the fear that you’re going to fall, but on the flip side, you get the opportunity to play a little bit, and if you fall, it’s a ripple effect throughout the company at times.

Tracie:

That’s a good point.

Toni:

One thing to take away from both our responses is that we’ve tried multiple things and found what works for us and I think that people, you have to have those different experiences, so I tell people, “Try consulting, try corporate, try contract,” like try them and don’t feel beholden to staying in one path because that’s what, especially for folks who aren’t in the Salesforce ecosystem. I have a friend who’s a banker and she’s like, “Oh, you don’t want to be a job hopper, people are going to look down on that,” and I’m like, “Not in my ecosystem.”

Jami:

Right. I love that you said that because I think what that comes down to as well is that as we watched the world change, even the employment spectrum has changed where… Toni, I don’t know how old you are, but I’m fairly up there.

Toni:

I’m up there.

Jami:

Right? So when you think back to when we all became adults and started in our respective industries, in our respective roles, the idea that you left a company at any point was very foreign, like our parents, mine is a baby boomer, I’ll be honest, they didn’t leave their company, they went and they worked for that company, they worked 20 to 30 years, they retired, they got a pension, life was mostly good, and that has changed over time and so the advice we were always given early on was “You better not leave that company because you’ll be seen as a job hopper, especially if you leave within the first year. Wait, what? What do you mean you’re going to leave within the first year?”

Jami:

The culture and our societies have changed now especially with millennials of a millennial goes into a company, they know by noon and on their first day whether or not they are staying with that company. That’s how quickly they make those decisions because they know whether or not it’s for them or not, and that’s the culture shift that we have seen, and so I agree, Toni, wholeheartedly, like get out there, try things, do what is going to make you happy until you find the one that is the fit for you, because until you do, don’t make yourself miserable. We’ve done the work for you. We’ve done that, okay? We’ve done that already, we’ve done that work for you, we are telling you. Here is the mentor moment. I’m telling you, this is the mentor moment. As your mentor, get out there and play, try it out, figure out what works for you.

Tracie:

Yeah, I agree. The world has changed from when our careers began, and my first role, my first company, I was there nearly 20 years. In the last five years, I’ve had three other jobs. So the world is changing. There’s more out there. Organizations are more open to the idea of people coming and going, and especially with the time that we’re living in at the moment, it’s even more necessary to just make sure that we’re keeping our skills up to date and make sure that we’re trying a lot of different things and being open to a lot of different things.

Jami:

I would say the one thing I learned at a conference, one of the Project Summit conferences way, way, way back when is they were talking about the differences in the generations, and the baby boomers, like I said, those were the ones that stayed in the company, they continued throughout their career. My generation, or as they like to call us, “Gen X,” we were the first generation who experienced massive layoffs and severe layoffs, and I think that’s when the culture started to shift and so that has afforded us these opportunities to be able to really look at it, and I’ll say I started my career as a contractor and so when you were a contractor, it would seem a little bit better that you were moving from place to place because you would get a contract for a certain amount of time.

Jami:

My last company, I was there for almost 10 years, and so I kind of flip flop that a little bit. As I look at my career especially in the Salesforce ecosystem, I’m going, “Yeah, guys, if I stay here more than three years, you’re going to luck out.” I want to build my skillset and that was what I learned from contracting that I loved was by going to different companies and different areas and moving throughout. I built so many different skillsets and got such a holistic view of all of the different types of departments and the different types of processes and things that go on which is something you don’t necessarily get if you stay in a corporate role and stay within that particular company or that particular department, and I loved that piece of it which is what drove me to actually make the change last year to move to a new company, because I was recognizing that my skillset even in the Salesforce world was being stagnated because I was staying in that one silo.

Tracie:

As we wrap up today, maybe one final thought for me just because I heard it the other day and I thought it was cool. Discomfort is the price of admission to living a meaningful life. We’re often quite afraid of discomfort, we’re afraid of the lack of stability, but we don’t need to be afraid, we need to be prepared, and I think Toni, you and Jami are both amazing examples of that, of community and of mentorship and of doing all the things necessary to take ownership of your career and search for your own happiness. I want to hear what’s coming up for both of you, so Toni, do you want to kind of speak to that a little bit?

Toni:

Sure. I am in the thick of preparations for the next Salesforce Business Analyst Virtual Summit. Folks don’t know what that is. It’s a week long conference with topics relevant to Salesforce VA, so agile methodology requirements, documentation, tools, techniques, all of those types of things, and so I’m doing that twice a year and the next one is happening in September, and if folks want any more information on that, it can be found on my website, thesystemstosuccess.com, and as I’ve mentioned, I’m really excited about the Salesforce Essentials product for small businesses. Tracie, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of upheaval right now and people are trying to figure out how do we get back on track, and I think that one of the things that Salesforce is able to help folks do is to put that rigor around their processes and to add automation.

Toni:

So if people had disorganized businesses and sales and marketing processes before, you can not afford that now, and so I think that it’s going to take people who know the platform and know how it could help to really step up and help kind of usher people back into success based on whatever’s in the future. Those are the things that I’m most excited about that are coming in.

Tracie:

Awesome, and how can folks find you?

Toni:

On Twitter, I am @tonivallentine with two L’s, and then my website again is thesystemstosuccess.com, and on the Trailblazer Community, my group is Salesforce Business Analyst, so if you just search for that, then you can find us there.

Tracie:

Thank you. We will definitely be doing that, and Jami, what’s coming up for you?

Jami:

I am in the process of working through a program at my company of reimagining our entire customer experience, so our next step is actually implementing a brand new Salesforce environment and we’re working through all of the high level business processes to really define out what those key requirements are going to be, so that’s what I’m working on next and it is very exciting and very fast paced. Very fast paced..

Tracie:

As is everything these days, and best of luck on that. How can folks find you?

Jami:

They can find me on LinkedIn. I am under Jami Moore, and Jami is spelled J-A-M-I, and M-O-O-R-E. If you want to find me, I’m on LinkedIn.

Tracie:

Fantastic, and I am so just thrilled for the conversation we’ve had today and I really appreciate Toni and Jami, both of you and your time and your graciousness for being part of the closing episode of season one of Traceability Podcast, so thank you so much. For those who are listening, if any of this conversation resonated with you today, your call to action is to shoot me an email at Tracie, T-R-A-C-I-E@traceabilitypodcast.com. Let me know what meant a lot to you from the conversation and how we can help. Ladies, thank you so much for your time today. Greatly appreciate it.

Jami:

Thanks, Tracie.

Toni:

Thank you.