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Behind the Certs – Jess Wingerden

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SG – Let’s get started. Why don’t we begin at the beginning? Please tell us about your education/ career before coming into the Salesforce ecosystem response. JW – Since I started working in IT, I get asked this question quite a lot, and I’m often met with a response of surprise when I share that I never attended University. Truth be told, I didn’t even finish High School. My career began in the corporate world when I was 16; my first full-time job was as a Call Centre Operator. Between 16 and 24, I dedicated a tremendous amount of time & energy to learning as much as possible about all operations inside the Retail Banking Industry. I actively sought exposure to as wide a variety of experiences as possible. Now having this pool of knowledge, I was nominated to be a System Tester as a front end user for a new project within my company; this is where I got my first taste of what it was like to work in IT. It wasn’t long after I transitioned into a Business Analyst role. The BA role allowed me to utilise my newfound tech-related skills, develop new skills, of course, but also draw on all the industry knowledge I’d acquired. SG – That’s awesome. We’d love to know the tipping point, that moment when you said ‘I want to make this change’ and what was the trigger? JW – When I started working within tech, I saw what I could only label as organised chaos. There is constant change, challenges, and blockages within a project, but with this comes ideas, solutions, teamwork, and collaboration. To face these challenges, everyone involved would jump on a call or get into a meeting to work together to find the solution to the problem. Being both included and witnessing first-hand allowed me to work alongside some brilliant people; I would be able to see their minds tick over while their bright ideas were being hatched. Not only that, but I would feel that sense of teamwork; everyone involved was working towards the same goal. This combination of organised chaos, collaboration, the never-ending process of learning something new within tech, and watching a project that was once just an idea come to life right in front of me – this is why I knew I had to make the change. Become a Salesforce Certified Professional SG – You achieved many certs along the way. Can you share three things with us,
  1. why you value certs
  2. challenges associated with the process and,
  3. your top tips for being successful in cert exams?
JW – Why I value certs I value certifications because they are constantly evolving. Salesforce is continuously updating the certificates to include the latest features and changes, which keeps me accountable. I can’t rest on what I know; I need to keep learning to stay current. Achieving certifications gives me a sense of accomplishment. I pushed myself to do the work, studied in my own time, and picked myself up after failing and tried even harder. Challenges I found Not being prepared. The first exam I sat, I walked in thinking my work experience would be enough to allow me to pass the exam. I failed (not a surprise), so I started studying and working through trailheads, exam preps etc., to better prepare for the re-do exam. You don’t know what you don’t know until you look. My top tips
  1. Do the homework, create your own Salesforce environment and utilise Trailhead. Being a hands-on learner, having my own full-featured Salesforce org was critical to my preparation. Being able to ‘play around’ helped ground concepts for me, and the step by step guide and how to’s are great if you don’t have any colleagues or peers to work things through with.
  2. Mock Exams. The mock exams give you insight into the thought process needed when answering the questions in the actual exam. My experience taught me that just when I thought I was ready, the results of a mock exam told me otherwise. Use the areas you didn’t do so well in as a guide for further revisions and practise.
  3. Read each of the exam questions thoroughly. If there is a question which you are unsure of, use the process of elimination. Doing this removes answers that are not correct and starts a thought process of why this is not correct. Doing this always helped my brain get on track as to why another answer is correct.
SG – What do you enjoy most about your work as a certified Salesforce professional? JW – The capability of the Salesforce Platform! Seeing how the platform bends and lends itself to such a wide variety of customers and industries over my career shows me I’ll never get bored. New features are released all the time, things are never the same for long, and I find that exciting. Having access to so many configurable/clickable solutions, my team can work with the customer, build the ideal platform and up-skill the business to enable them to maintain, change and continue on the platform after the project has completed. This empowers the customer, encourages them to get involved and diminishes the ongoing cost associated with ongoing support. Given my experience, not having any IT background, I’ve seen first-hand the benefits of having such a user-friendly product and how much ‘self-learning’ can be done with online Trailheads, the Salesforce community and Salesforce events. Get your Salesforce Certifications on the first go SG – Time for gratitude!! Finally, is there anyone (individual or company) you would like to take this opportunity to thank for their role in helping you along your journey? If Yes, what was their role in your success? JW – Atif Saad – it’s safe to say that anyone who has worked with Atif or seen him in action can agree he is one of those brilliant minds I mentioned earlier. Atif and I have worked together since my first step into the Salesforce Environment. Although I faced some challenges initially (knowing the bare minimum of Salesforce), Atif has always given me the best guidance, advice and support. I have never worked with someone so passionate about the success of their people. Thank you, Atif, for everything you have helped me with. Thank you to all my SaaSfocus colleagues who have supported me throughout the journey. All of this would have been impossible without you; I’m genuinely grateful for the fantastic team around me and the friends I have made.

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