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Behind the Certs – Nisar Khan

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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.
NK – I am a qualified Doctor. Yep, you read that right! I did my Bachelors in Medicine and Surgery in 2010 and had completed an executive MBA in healthcare management in late 2012. I worked as a Consultant physician and Operations manager by day at National Pathology Lab and a GP (General Practitioner) at night. In late 2013 I was promoted to a regional manager position, managing 40 centres with around 300 people reporting indirectly to me.

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?
NK – Beginning of Something New: In late 2015, I received my Australian Permanent Residency (PR) and took the leap of faith and landed in Sydney.

The Struggle / Trigger: No sooner than I started applying for Healthcare Manager jobs in the Australian market, I started receiving rejections. The common reason offered was ‘not enough local experience’. As I call it, the rejection phase continued for some time; I exhausted almost all the job opportunities in the healthcare market. I could have started working as a GP, but I realised I am better as a people manager and did not want to confine myself to the four walls of a small doctors office, which, if I’d thought of earlier, would have saved me a whole lot of time at uni, lol. Anyway, I kept trying hard to find a role but kept receiving rejections. Meanwhile, I took up a job as a pizza delivery boy at a local Dominos Pizza to sustain myself.

The Actual Tipping Point: By now, I realised I could not perform the same actions and expect a different outcome. So, I decided a different approach was needed and tried something new. My wife was a Salesforce Developer then (now a Technical Architect), she encouraged me to learn Salesforce. Initially, it was scary as I did not have an IT background. It took me more than six months to learn essential Salesforce and achieve my first certification.

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?

NK – Why I value certs
Once I got a few certifications under my belt, I started getting job offers. It was an incredible feeling. I was the same guy that kept getting rejections, and now the tables had turned! It seemed the world started to notice the hard work I put in and treated me like a skilled professional. My first lucky break came in the form of a 2-month contract role with the NRL (National Rugby League) in mid-2016.

Challenges I found
I was lucky to have my wife (my coach) and basic trailheads to study, but it was daunting for a person with no IT background. There were other study materials like Udemy, YouTube, etc., but none were comprehensive enough to help learn everything but were enough to scrape the surface of the platform. It was an expensive process to achieve a Cert and even more costly if you fail the exam. I failed many times at my certs, only to come back stronger next time. A great experience, explicit in what could have done better and where I needed to focus, but expensive.

My top tips

    1. Do not use dumps; it will weaken your self-confidence and will expose you when you actually start your job. Memorising and understanding are wildly different things.
    2. Trailheads are good nowadays; it has a lot of hands-on exercises. Additionally, trailhead Go is available on mobile, and you can learn cool stuff on the go.
    3. Use as many resources as possible like Udemy, Plural sight, Youtube etc., as every teacher will present a different take on the conceptual understanding of the Salesforce Platform. Look at the same thing from a few different angles helped things ‘click’ for me.
    4. Take as many mock exams as possible. There are thousands of possible question combinations in the exam; expose yourself to as many variations as possible.
    5. Take notes and create your own Flash Cards. Don’t simply read online or print and read.
    6. Finally, learn the platform and do not simply chase certs. Certs simply validate your knowledge, which is excellent, but what counts in your everyday job (and what employers are looking for) is your ability to use Salesforce to solve problems for your client/company

Get your Salesforce Certifications on the first go

SG – What do you enjoy most about your work as a certified Salesforce professional?
NK – I specialise in the implementation of the Salesforce Platform for Healthcare Organisations and allied industries. I was recently fortunate enough to Architect the solution for many Australian State Governments on Salesforce’s Health Cloud. It gives me immense pleasure to bring my healthcare expertise into Salesforce implementations and help healthcare organisations in their journey of Digital Transformations. I fondly tell people that as a GP, I could touch 20-30 lives in a day, but as a Salesforce Architect (in the Healthcare industry), I am touching millions of lives every day.

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?
NK – Dr Sanjay Arora – He is the one who made me realise that transforming a vision into reality requires incremental changes, which will all add up to radical results. It’s not always about the resources available; it’s knowing how to maximise resources — someone’s will, energy, creativity, courage, faith and determination — to achieve goals. I am what I am because of him.

Mitali Telang – My wife, mother to our child, my coach and my mentor for convincing me to, then helping me kickstart my Salesforce journey. Outside her and our family, it is the most rewarding thing I’ve done.

Ryan Dean – One of the first to see my potential, he trusted me to implement Service Cloud for 1,000+ users, a very proud moment for me. His confidence in me helped me build my confidence in myself. I can’t tell you what it does for a person to have someone else believe you can achieve something when you’re unsure.

Chris Mail – One of the finest Managers I have ever worked with, his mentoring and coaching was a key enabler for me to be ambitious and commence my Architect journey.

Chad Shafaghi – My Coach at Deloitte. Chad has always offered support and assistance to help me implement self-change and achieve desired goals. He is continuously monitoring and enhancing my performance by providing tuition, encouragement and constructive feedback.

Kedar Mudhalwadkar – He is an excellent Program Manager who taught me how to manage client engagements. He gave me my first engagement management role and supported me at every step, and helped me make the right decisions. He is a visionary who can strategise how to turn dreams into reality; this is the most valuable lesson he taught me.

Sarah Harris – She can see how things can be better than they are and helps others to share their ideas. Sarah created a movement at Deloitte that inspired so many other people and me to believe in ourselves. She leads by example, rolls up her sleeves and does what it takes to get the job done. She helped me define my future and make it real and attainable for me.

Paul Fayle – is a role model, an inspiration, and a Salesforce CTA who is so humble. He has always provided me with expert technical advice. He has always been there for me and supported me in the toughest of projects.

Kumar Manish – From supporting colleagues unconditionally to helping those facing workplace blues, Kumar is ‘The Man’. He is a gifted Program Manager who is constantly coaching and mentoring me to become a better Program Architect. Thank you for being there and mentoring me both personally and professionally.

Anil Nair, Pushpendra Bhati and Akshay Mehta – The best colleagues and my friends forever. They have been such a guiding force in my journey and helped me make critical decisions in my life. Their wisdom and experience helped me avoid the common pitfalls. I love you guys!

Claire Gilles – Every Professional has highs and lows in their career. Claire supported me during my ‘not so high’ times and gave me opportunities to perform. It’s due to her support that I am a specialist in Healthcare implementations at Deloitte. I cannot thank her enough.

I want to give a shoutout to all my teammates at Deloitte, Lendlease, NRL and McGrath for all their support and collaboration. Working alongside you has made me who I am today; thank you!

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