Welcome to my first Girly Geek of the Week post where I had the pleasure of interviewing Kieren Jameson!
Kieren is a total go-getter to say the least. If you’re not following her, you most definitely should – this Girly Geek Rocks! She has one of the best Salesforce blogs out there and does an excellent job of making Apex coding seem really simple. To me, she explains the foundation really well which is the most important piece that I could never quite get. In addition to her blog on coding, Kieren is taking part with 4 others to start a Pilot program to help women learn code – RAD Women (I, personally, cannot wait for this!) On top of all of this she is a ballroom dancer! (see the video below)
So, lets get started!
Me: How & when did you start working with Salesforce?
Kieren: I started working with Salesforce in 2012 when I implemented it for my non-profit health-education agency.
We didn’t have a CRM solution before Salesforce and we were in desperate need of one. We had just been granted our licenses by the Salesforce Foundation when I went to Dreamforce that first year. I have to say that I was overwhelmed and more than a little confused: What edition were we on? What was the difference between Service Cloud, Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud (and what is Heroku and do we need that)? What did we have? Well I figured it out, but it was trial by fire for sure. I was able to get into some great sessions that talked about the various products, and how to successfully implement Salesforce. I came back on fire with information and enthusiasm for Salesforce, including the great work that the Foundation does to help Non-Profits.
Over the next four or so months I implemented Chatter agency-wide to about 80 people and Sales Cloud to around 15 (we’re now up to around 30 full Salesforce licenses and we also use Pardot for B2B marketing automation and Desk for support). I have to say that Salesforce has some awesome implementation support guides, which I used heavily in our implementation of Chatter and Sales Cloud.
Me: What is your current role working with Salesforce?
Kieren: My current role includes being my Agency’s sole Salesforce Administrator (I also co-manage the rest of IT within our Agency). In addition to all the general Salesforce administrative work, I’m also responsible for integration of Salesforce with our backend systems, and helping our CIO and other execs made decisions about technology infrastructure planning/purchasing. I’ve been really happy with the variety of products that hang off or integrate pretty easily with Salesforce. In the past three years we’ve become a very Salesforce-centric agency, because it’s just easier to manage the wildly diverse range of technology needs with very few IT resources if they have a common core. We’ve become very “cloud first” and I love that.
Me: What is your favorite thing to do in Salesforce and why?
Kieren: Wow, it’s hard to pick just one favorite thing. I guess I just love how flexible and extendable it all is. I’ve been able to develop some pretty cool extensions that help us manage different aspects of our business, which are only tangentially related to sales. Like for example, I just completed building out an extension to use Campaigns to track and manage our Professional Development learning events. Salesforce helps me develop in an iterative, rapid way, with very little effort…and have things just work (and keep working). I love that! It’s so easy to add new functionality, and help different parts of our agency connect in ways that just aren’t possible when everyone is working on their own spreadsheets saved to their desktop and emailed around. That stuff drives me nuts! Salesforce helps me move people into a more connected, collaborative, and centralized environment.
Me: Are you currently certified? And if so what certifications do you hold?
Kieren: I’m super proud to say I just got my Force.com Developer certification, and I’m working on my Administrator. Eventually I’d like to have my Advanced Administrator, Sales Cloud and Advanced Developer certifications. We’ll see…I tend to bite off some pretty big chunks…I’m never bored that’s for sure! Congrats on your Cert!
Me: What are some of your aspirations and/or goals when it comes to Salesforce?
Kieren: Where do I start?! I love that I’m writing about learning to code. It’s so much fun, and I’ve gotten such a great response to my blog (WomenCodeHeroes.com). It really came out of my frustration at trying to find time to learn Apex, and only having brief periods in which to do so. There were things I wanted to do and just couldn’t with point-and-click dev (which is becoming much less of a problem with things like Process Builder and Visual Flow). But also…well I’m a girly geek! I love the coding stuff…which I’ve done in other languages, just not in anything resembling Apex.
In this past Dreamforce (2014) I was on a tear to learn to code on Force.com and I just haven’t stopped since. I talked to quite a few women during DF14 who were feeling similarly to me…wanting to do it, but not managing to do it alone. So I just decided to start a group so we could do it together. My original thoughts were that there would be just a few of us and that I’d find us a mentor, but I got such an amazing response from a few posts to various women-centric Salesforce groups (Girly Geeks and Girlforce) that I felt like it was something that could be bigger…and help more women. I also saw how few women there were in the Developer Zone in Dreamforce.
I knew that there was a problem when there was a massive line at DF14 for the men’s restroom and I could walk in the women’s and have my pick of stalls. When does that ever happen? I guess it happens in technology spaces. It made me sad, and a little angry, that there was this obvious diversity problem. I’m not one to complain without helping find solutions and I hooked up with a few other women who shared my passion for increasing gender diversity in technology. Fast forward a few months, and out of that came a core group of five of us (Ashima Saigal, Angela Mahoney, Sasi Jayamaruthyraman, Lou Ann Lyon, and myself) who formed RAD Women (Radical Apex Developing Women). Pure Genius!
We’re currently working up to our first pilot program, which will include three small groups of women who meet virtually. They’ll be guided by advanced developer coaches through a curriculum that will be a mixture of existing material (e.g., Trailhead modules) and material we’re developing from scratch.
Along with the material, we’re also building a community, because in our experience, that’s one of the biggest barriers for women getting into coding. There just isn’t safe spaces to ask questions and get answers. We wanted to have a place where we could ask questions, and where there is no such thing as a “stupid” question.
So RAD Women will be part structured learning, part independent study, and part ongoing support and community for women Salesforce developers. We’re envisioning roughly three separate courses that build developer skills, starting with programming basics and moving up to working with sophisticated open-source Apex code projects. Our goal is to have something for women who just want to learn the basics and build basic triggers, all the way up to women who want to become full-time developers and take the Advanced Developer Certification. But baby steps to begin with…our pilot program with the first course (programming basics) will kick off in July. We’re planning on learning a lot!
Me: Do you have any advice for women working with Salesforce?
Kieren: Get involved in the community. I didn’t really get involved for two years, and it was so much harder than it needed to be. The women’s community in Salesforce is AMAZING! The Salesforce community in general is amazing! Join the Salesforce virtual communities, and if you can, go to your local user group. This is a must!
Don’t wait two years like I did…it’s scary at first, but there are people there who are just waiting for you (yes you!) to show up. Plus, get onto twitter and start communicating with those of us who live there. Not only is a great and easy way to make connections, but it also one of the main ways I keep up with all the fabulous resources that come out of our community. Everyone is super friendly and welcoming.
I also recommend that people check out Trailhead, which is Salesforce’s free new online training website. It has some great modules and covers (or will cover) much of the point-and-click salesforce admin stuff. It also has some programmatic development modules, but they aren’t as easy to understand as they could be; they’re aimed at people with existing programming experience, but who are new to force.com. Good news though… a little birdie tells me Salesforce is working on a whole path just for admins learning to code. That will be amazing. Trailhead is amazing!
My last piece of advice (if you’ll forgive me) is that if you’re interested in learning to code (or just want to understand what the big deal is) then check out my blog. It’s all about pulling apart various Salesforce coding topics and putting them (I hope!) in plain English for those of us who didn’t major in Computer Science.
Me: What kinds of things are you involved in, and/or do you like to do outside of the Salesforce world?
Kieren: Well, I have to say not a lot right now…between starting the Blog, and RAD Women there isn’t much else I have time for, but when I’m not doing that, then I love to dance. A fun 5 min video is the trailer for a film that’s being made about Same Sex Ballroom Dance, that include my dance partner and me (http://www.hottotrotfilm.com/portfolio/watch-the-trailer/) Go Girl! and cool accent, btw 🙂
Of course it will be no surprise to anyone who’s even glanced at my blog that I’m big into cooking. I love entertaining and figure if I can cook for my wife and myself, I may as well cook for 10 or so more people. What the heck!
Also…I know it’s a clique…but I’m a big Sci-Fi/Fantasy nerd. I’m never without multiple audiobooks and eBooks. I love my library and Overdrive probably accounts for 30% of my cell phone data plan!
Are you part of a Girly Geeks chapter? San Francisco, but it’s with more than a little chagrin that I admit I haven’t managed to make a single meetup. But I am very active on the Girly Geeks success community…so hopefully that counts. Of course it still counts!
Thank you very much for sharing all of this with us Kieren, you are definitely an inspiration!
For those of you that want to follow Kieren, please see all of her information below and get following!
Twitter handle – @KierenJameson
Sfdc Community link – https://success.salesforce.com/profile?u=00530000007revKAAQ
Blog link – http://www.womencodeheroes.com/
Button Click Admin Podcast – http://www.buttonclickadmin.com/women-code-heroes-kieren-jameson/