Friday, April 4, 2014

My Dream at Dreamforce & How the Salesforce Community helped Make it a Reality

If you've read my blog about how I built my career on Salesforce then you already know that I’ve worked in the financial services industry for more than half of my Admin/BA career.  Prior to this I spent time with a B2C startup and a large Healthcare company.   What this means is that approximately 85% of my career has been spent in a Highly Regulated Industry.

One of the Dreamforce ’13 highlights for me was the Financial Services Industry Day.  I found the sessions really useful, informative and geared towards people like me.  I remember thinking after each session “Yes, I go through that”, “Yes, I’ve dealt with that”, or “Yes these people understand me and don’t think I’m insane. Hooray!”

After the day ended there were two people that I sat next to for most of the day through various sessions and we decided to grab something to eat.  The nature of our conversation naturally turned to our Salesforce orgs.  We all had similar roles within our companies, however we were all in completely different Financial Services sub-sectors.  We had so many common challenges within our implementations or even with compliance or regulatory.  After I left my two new friends during the walk back to my hotel I smiled to myself and thought “I wish I could talk to people like this all the time.  I wish I could meet up with people from my industry a few times a year and talk shop.  These are my people, they get me.”

As I was riding in the elevator up to my hotel a light went on in my head.  There should be a Financial Services Industry User Group.  Then I started to wonder if I could start something like that?  Would Salesforce be supportive?  How would I do that?  Would anyone be interested in this?

The following day I was speaking with Roger Mitchell from Silverline about my idea for a Financial Services User Group to see what he thought.  He was the first person I really vocalized this to so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  He was extremely supportive and even offered to help me if I decided to move forward on this idea.

About two weeks after Dreamforce I was still thinking about the idea of a Financial Services User Group and was wondering how Salesforce would feel about this type of group.  I was attending a regular MVP Office Hours session in December when Josh and Jarrod mentioned if we ever had any MVP questions we could always tweet them.  Later that day I took advantage of their offer and asked them if there were any MVPs in the Financial Services Industry.  In a few short hours they had connected me with Denise Carbone who leads the Chicago User Group and Geraldine Gray whom I already knew from the Girly Geeks events at Dreamforce.

Within a few days I had conversations with both Denise and Geraldine about my idea for Financial Services Salesforce User Group.  They were both extremely supportive of the idea were willing to give me tips and general advice.  Denise offered to connect me with Matt Brown at Salesforce about my idea.  I had a very successful conversation with Matt a few days later! He thought it was a great idea and that there would be a lot of interest.  All I had to do was let him know I was ready to move forward and he would get me setup.

After hanging up with Matt, I typed a quick email to Roger asking him if he had time to talk later this week about the Financial Services User Group and that I was ready to move forward.  Roger got right back to me and told me to set something up and include one of his colleagues, Maggie Rupel.  We had a 20 minute conversation that went better than I could have ever imagined.  Not only were they willing to help promote an event, but Silverline was willing to sponsor and host the event.  I will never be able to communicate in words how much this meant to me.  My little Financial Services Salesforce loving heart swelled with joy after this phone call.    

After my call with Roger and Maggie, I reached back out to Matt and had him get me setup.
On my way down to the Saleforce1Tour in January I was making a list of all of the things I was going to have to do by February 27th to get this User Group rolling.  The list was mighty, long and overwhelming.

While chatting with a few people at the User Group booth I ran into Adam Ady, whom I knew from the Developer User Group in NYC.  He mentioned to me he recently transitioned to a new role within Financial Services and he was thinking of trying to get a bunch of other Financial Services Salesforce people together to talk.  I told him that “great minds must think alike” and that I needed some help.  I asked if he would be my co-leader and he said “Yes!”  We started to tell more people after the event about our newly formed User Group.  There wasn't a single person we told that wasn't supportive or willing to help in some way.

Shortly after the Salesforce1 tour ended I remember thinking Erica and Matt aren't joking when they talk about Salesforce having the best Community in the world.  In just a few days I had so many people willing to help me and guide me.  There were other User Group leaders offering their tips and suggestions, there were people sharing the link to the registration on their twitter or community pages.

We had our first meeting as planned on February 27th and it was a huge success.  A bigger success than I could have ever imagined when I was talking to Roger at Dreamforce.  For the first time ever people in the Financial Services Salesforce world were sharing their ideas, experiences and challenges with Salesforce.  And you know what, we were right.  We all do have the same challenges and we are going to solve them together and be successful together.  

Our Financial Services Salesforce User Group Community page now has over 400 members and we’re gearing up for our second in person meeting in early May as well as our first virtual meeting.  

Thank you to everyone who helped along the way.  We couldn't have done it without you.  This community really is like a second family. 

Thanks as always for reading and sharing,



  1. Congrats for setting up Financial Services Salesforce User Group, but how this cover global user?

    1. Hi Johan, we do our meetings in person in NYC and we are going to also hold the meeting virtually to accommodate those outside of NYC.

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