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Behind the Certs – Paul Fayle

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Become a Salesforce Certified Professional
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.
PF – I have had a pretty diverse background over more than two decades. I graduated as a lawyer (I even did some in-house legal work for a while there) but quickly decided that the legal profession wasn’t for me. So after that, I started in Consulting – firstly as a Business Analyst but then progressed to more technical roles (specialising primarily in Siebel CRM and MDM). Following that, I worked in Industry as a Development and Delivery Manager at a large Financial Services organisation. I then moved to the Vendor side, working for Oracle as a Principal Technical Account Manager when Salesforce tempted me to pivot technologies. I am now back in Consulting, and nothing beats it for the opportunity to continuously build skills and experience.

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?
PF – When I shifted into the Salesforce ecosystem, close to a decade ago now, Siebel was in a very steep decline. At the time, I was, first and foremost, an Application focused architect, and I saw an incredible innovation and future with the Salesforce Platform in the applications space. Bear in mind that this was before Salesforce made their numerous acquisitions – making the breadth and possibilities today even more exciting than they seemed back then.

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?

PF – Certifications are not a perfect way to measure expertise, but they certainly are a way to validate that you are across a particular area of the platform. Occasionally I’ll work with someone certified in a specific area, but they don’t have an appropriate level of experience to back that up. Experience is vitally important.

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On the other hand, I’ve worked with professionals who have extensive, but bad, experience because they never learnt the right way to do things. Certification and real-world experience go hand-in-hand; one generally isn’t very good without the other.

It is important to note that the process of obtaining a certification is more important than the certification itself – learning the features and functions available, the declarative options you might have coded due to lack of awareness, etc. The certificate is a validation that you have successfully been through that process, and it is a client’s only way of determining that as well. Beyond that, it shows commitment and dedication – I will read a lot into someone who has been years on the platform with no certifications (fair or not). I think the challenge in obtaining certifications is that the breadth of some cannot be truly appreciated unless and until you attempt them (Admin, for example, is actually really hard from a breadth of content knowledge perspective – and folks regularly underestimate it). The ability to practice and test your knowledge is key (it builds confidence and is a good way of ensuring you are ready before spending big money on an attempt). As with anything else, study buddies, coaches, and a community will make the whole learning and certification process experience easier and, I think, richer.

SG – What do you enjoy most about your work as a certified Salesforce professional?
PF – Solving interesting and challenging client problems but increasingly assisting and enabling others to do this. Both are incredibly interesting and rewarding.

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?
PF – If I had to thank individuals and companies that have helped along my journey, it might take several days. The way I look at this is every job, every experience and all those you work with all help build and shape your career and personal growth. It is essential to have mentors and seek out those who have walked before you with careers and skills you aspire to (I have had many and varied mentors across all my roles – all fantastic, humble and amazing human beings). Still, it is equally important to appreciate that you can learn from anyone at any level – this does not stop – ever.

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