Welcome Toya Gatewood – Girly Geek of the Week!


This week’s Girly Geek is a savvy #SoloAdmin, Girly Geek Chapter Leader and all around Salesforce Enthusiast!  Toya is another, what I like to call, Salesforce Veteran  – I feel like any one who has been working with Salesforce for 5+ years is a Vet at this point because we all used Salesforce when there were less than 14k people going to Dreamforce!  Toya has given some absolutely fantastic advice for being successful with Salesforce!  Read on and see how this #SoloAdmin has made a very solid career for herself! 🙂

Me:  How & when did you start working with Salesforce?

Toya:  I’m what you’d call an “accidental” admin. I started working in Salesforce in 2009 with my current employer, CincyTech. We’re a venture capital firm and were looking for an effective way to track our deal flow, investments & investors and then report on the data easily. We’d gone through 2 previous systems without much (okay, any) success before landing on Salesforce. I was tapped to be the system administrator and jumped in along with a co-worker to work with our implementation partner to get our data migrated; the rest, as they say, is history. I have absolutely no IT background and at the time had never even heard of Salesforce.  Same!  So many of us started this way!

Me:  What is your current role working with Salesforce?

Toya:  I’m the system administrator and go-to person for all things Salesforce in my company. In addition to what we initially wanted to use Salesforce for, we now use it for a wide range of things that include tracking employee time against opportunities, some internal HR functions, and investor relations. I’m always looking for new ways to leverage the system.  #SoloAdmin 🙂

Me:  What is your favorite thing to do in Salesforce and why?

Toya:  That’s a loaded question! I love the reporting and analytics. It’s so powerful for somebody to come to you with what they think is a complex request (and truthfully, without Salesforce would be a complex request), only for you to get the information back to them within minutes. If the data exists in Salesforce, it can be pulled out. You can’t ask for much more than that!  #Truth & #QuickWins! 🙂

Me:  Are you currently certified? And if so what certifications do you hold?

Toya:  Yes. I went to the ADM201 training in 2009 but didn’t become certified until June 2011 (do not make that mistake)! My goal is to add ADM211 and DEV401 by year-end. At the beginning of this year I participated in the ADM211 sessions as part of the Salesforce Certification Study Group on the Success Community and I highly recommend them as a FREE resource for expanding your knowledge and skills. It only costs you some time & effort, but what better investment of those resources than in yourself and your career? Salesforce certifications are what I’m focusing on right now to develop and enhance myself professionally.  Great points on getting certified – set a goal date and use the Success Community!  Good Luck on your future Certs!

Me:  What are some of your aspirations and/or goals when it comes to Salesforce?

Toya:  Other than adding the certifications, I want to earn all of the Trailhead badges! I didn’t jump right on the Trailhead bandwagon, but once I started I got hooked. I also think I’d like to eventually take a stab at leading one of the Salesforce Certification Study Group sessions. I’m not naturally inclined to do something like that, but I think it’s important to make myself a bit uncomfortable in order to obtain growth. Stretch goals are important! That would also be a great way to give back to the community.  Love “…make myself a bit uncomfortable in order to obtain growth.”  That is so true!  It may be difficult but will be well worth it.

Me:  Do you have any advice for women working with Salesforce?

Toya:  In no particular order of importance, because I think all of these are critical: 1) Get involved in the Success Community. Today. Answer some questions or get involved in some of the ongoing discussions about best practices, features that you like, problems you’re trying to solve, or ideas that you’d like some feedback on. That’s especially important if you’re a solo admin and don’t really have anybody in your workplace to bounce things off of.  2) Go to your local user group meetings and of course, get involved with your local Girly Geek chapter. 3) Keep up to date on the 3 releases that come out annually. This will help you improve your org as well as expand your base of knowledge. There are so many features of Salesforce that you may not work with on a regular basis, if at all. Reading those releases will force you out of your comfort zone! 4) Sign up for a free developer org using a personal e-mail address and then get started with Trailhead! This is the perfect way to hone your skills and you can use the dev org to practice all the stuff from the release notes. I’ve also found it beyond useful to stay current on features that you don’t use regularly in your day-to-day activities. 5) Work toward your certifications. You’ll surprise yourself with just how much you know and how powerful Salesforce truly is. 6) Go to Dreamforce! The learning and networking opportunities are unbelievable. I guarantee you’ll go home with at least 5 things you can implement in your own org immediately to make a huge impact; you’ll have the perfect argument to make to your boss the following year when it’s time to go again!  Toya, this is fantastic advice! Thank you so much for sharing! 🙂

Me:  What kinds of things are you involved in, and/or do you like to do outside of the Salesforce world?

Toya:  Right now I’m involved in a ton of physical therapy to recover from an ankle that was dislocated and broken in 3 different places (ouch!) at the end of February. Distracting me from that are my duties as the President of the Board of Directors of Orion Academy, a local K-8 charter school that’s really working hard to improve the lives & outcomes of all of its scholars. I’ve been on that board for about 5 years now and truly enjoy the work. 😦 to the ankle!  But fantastic that you are involved in the learning outcomes for children!

I’m married and have a 23-year old daughter. I DON’T BELIEVE YOU!  I am interjecting right here because you look entirely too young to have a 23 yr old!!! We love to travel and are currently planning a two-week trip to Europe next summer. I’m a voracious reader and also enjoy sports – my favorites are college & professional basketball and professional football.  After the NBA Finals are over, time seems to drag until the NFL starts up again!

Me:  Are you part of a Girly Geeks Chapter?

Toya:  Yes, I was recently asked by our fellow admin Christina Moore to co-lead the newly formed Cincinnati Girly Geeks chapter – it’s so new that we haven’t even had our initial meeting yet! Our planning was slowed down by the aforementioned ankle mishap, but we’re getting things back on track now. Awesome!  and good luck with your meetings!  I have met some amazing women through my chapter 🙂

It was a pleasure getting to know you Toya and thank you very much for sharing!  You are definitely an inspiration!

For those of you that want to follow Toya, here are her links:
Linkedin:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/toyagatewood
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/u/0/112706568252850815491/posts
Twitter handle:  @toyagatewood
Sfdc Community link:  https://success.salesforce.com/profile?u=00530000004MCrAAAW