Salesforce Trailhead turned this future lawyer into a citizen developer
Tuesday, January 17, 2017
This week, we spoke with Krystal Carter, President, Chief Cloud Enthusiast, Danny Kay Cloud, about how she went from aspirations to being an attorney to owning her own cloud consulting company, and her advice for others looking to kick-start their career in the digital economy.
Prior to working in tech what did you do for a living? What made you want to switch careers?
I was a communication and political science major in college and my goal was to go to law school. At the time, I was working as an admin for the marketing department at a medical waste company. When my company merged with another company that was using Salesforce as a glorified rolodex, my boss asked me to help figure out how to use it, solely because he knew that I was good with computers. And that was it. I was hooked at first login and I stopped thinking about law school, and I dove head first into a career in tech.
At that time, did you have any experience with technology or with a low code platform?
No, not at all. I was always very technically savvy, but the only real experience I had with technology was through building my sister’s wedding website where I had to learn HTML. Other than that I was a technology consumer, not a technology creator.
What did you find as your biggest obstacle in the beginning?
My biggest obstacle really came from the lack of executive knowledge on Salesforce. I was given the opportunity in 2004 to manage Salesforce for my entire company, but I wasn’t given the executive support that I needed to be able to successfully deploy it outside of sales. I learned a really great lesson from that. If you build out a tool that is so rewarding that people are begging for it, executives will quickly jump on board, especially if that tool is also bringing them value. You need the end users to clamor for it. One thing that wasn’t a challenge was that Salesforce always had information available on how to administer their tools. I wasn’t lucky enough to have Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, back in 2004, but if they didn't have the information or answers I needed, then the community always did.
How has your career change impacted your life? What has been the most rewarding?
My life has been impacted on so many different levels. Technology and Salesforce have given me a new community of friends and peers that I would have never tapped into. It also gave me extreme financial stability. Salesforce is a platform that is used by small companies and Fortune 50 companies, and all of these companies need someone to manage their Salesforce instance. One thing that I didn't expect after deciding on a career in the Salesforce economy is that I would go over a decade without ever needing to apply for a job. Every job I had between 2004 and 2015 came from a recruiter reaching out to me because they valued my Salesforce skills. I also never imagined that I would own my own consulting company. There is so much that has come my way unexpectedly from a tool that came into my life unexpectedly. Most rewarding for me is the ability to bring my skills in technology to young girls of color. It is one of my missions to expose minority women to the world of technology and I am focused on doing that with girls from the ages of 13 to 18. I want girls to see that someone who looks like them can succeed in the tech world and be inspired.
What does being a citizen developer mean to you?
I think the real benefit of being a citizen developer is the unique perspective that you get from being someone who doesn’t have a traditional technology background. There is so much personality in the citizen developer community. People with a vast array of life experiences. This diversity increases the lense through which that you see business and world problems and thus increases the lense on how you solve those problems.
How do you stay motivated to continue learning new skills? What is your inspiration?
I’ve always been someone who has needed to learn and have been scared that I was going to get left behind if I didn’t keep up with the latest tech trends. At the end of the day I relish in the ability to solve problems. I have been working with Salesforce since 2004, and today I rely on Trailhead when I want or need to learn something new. I think it is outstanding that Trailhead can teach old schoolers new things but also be simple enough to skill
up people who are completely new to the platform. While being motivated to learn is really core to who I am, my main inspiration and driving force is my father. I named my consulting company after my father, and I decided if I did that, then my company had to be amazing, like him. My dad worked at the post office for his entire life and he was always focused on customer service and altruism. I am inspired every day to ensure that my company is focused on customer service and giving back in his honor.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone who is looking to change their career and get a job in the digital economy like you?
Trailhead is my answer anytime someone asks how they can get a job like mine. If I was going to give someone one other piece of advice to get a job in the digital economy, it is that after they spend their time on Trailhead and master skills, whether they may be admin skills or developer skills, to own it. Own that you have a skillset that is in high demand that you have given yourself the ability to solve problems. Don’t be hesitant about it. Know you can make the transition and effect change in businesses and your own life. Own this revolutionary technology that is only going to get better and own that you can effect change for yourself and others.
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