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Behind the Certs – Upneet Smagh

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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.
US – I completed my Bachelor’s degree (i.e. Bachelor of Information Technology) from Jaypee University of Information Technology Solan (India), majoring in IT in 2012. My educational experience also includes a Master’s degree (Master of IT (ext)) completed in 2018 in Australia at the University of Technology Sydney with a major in Business Information Systems.

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?
US – I started my career with a multi-national company, Wipro Technologies, as a Test Engineer in India. Working at Wipro for roughly three years afforded me insights into the best organisational practices in the IT landscape. My experience in Wipro helped me develop my skills in Quality Analysis, providing business solutions in software development, execution, collaboration, and project life cycle. As a test engineer, I mainly worked at the backend and rarely had a chance to be in a front-end client-facing role. I had a huge appetite for learning and was deeply inclined to work in a client-facing role; I wanted to hone my skills in Business Analysis to add another dimension to my work. At this point, I decided to move into the Salesforce ecosystem in a fantastic role at Saasfocus (now Cognizant Technology Solutions) to start a new chapter in my career as a Salesforce Business Analyst.

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?
US – Why I value certs
I value my certifications as they unlocked vast opportunities for me in the Salesforce ecosystem. Applying for Salesforce roles is much easier, and the chance of winning a Salesforce role you have industry recognised certifications for go through the roof. It is more than knowing you have the skills and knowledge for the position; the certificate is proof you know what you’re doing; it is a real confidence booster. I don’t know if this happens for everyone, but I developed a bit of a collector mentality – I just wanted to keep adding certificates to my collection, lol. Another perk I found is that it is common for those with many certifications to earn more and be offered more opportunities to work in complex and exciting implementations.

Challenges I found
Even though there are many resources available to help with clearing Salesforce Certifications, the biggest challenge is the lack of real-world, hands-on experience to prepare for a certification. There are always curveball questions in the exam that a person can only answer if they have worked on/implemented that particular Salesforce cloud. I found myself chasing sources all over the web to find as many variations of practice questions as possible.

My top tips
I always begin my prep for a Salesforce certification by doing Trailheads, which is Salesforce’s own training/education platform. You know the information is accurate, up to date, it is fun to use, and there are various purpose-built trail mixes for certification prep.

Do as many mock test/practice exams as you can find. A bunch are floating around online, a word of warning – the quality varies. Udemy has a few top courses; these will familiarise you with the structure of the real exam. The questions are similar to what you’ll see in an exam, which is excellent practice and will help you feel more comfortable on exam day.

After you book your exam, Salesforce will share a study guide with you; this guide shows the weighting of the exam topics. I used this to focus on the topics that carried a more significant impact on my score. It is worth remembering that you don’t need a 100% mark to pass; using the weighting advice might get you certified a little sooner vs knowing absolutely everything about every topic in the exam 🙂

SG – What do you enjoy most about your work as a certified Salesforce professional?
US – What I love most about my job are the endless opportunities the Salesforce ecosystem has to offer. I’ve had a chance to work across multiple industries, Finance, Gaming, Education and Media (to name a few), delivering interesting and complex cross-cloud implementations with some of the most talented people in the industry. That is another reason I enjoy my work so much; you wouldn’t believe how many terrific mentors you will come across and how willing they are to share their time and experience with you.

It will sound cliche, but I feel genuine joy when my clients realise their goals post implementing Salesforce. I’m thrilled to contribute to their success and make a real difference in the way they operate. Working so closely with clients makes it hard not to be passionate about the outcomes you bring.

Working in the Salesforce ecosystem for over six years has helped me to grow both professionally and personally. Every Salesforce project I have been a part of is unique in its own way; there is always something new to learn –  you never get bored when you’re in the Salesforce ecosystem!

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?
US – I want to express my sincerest gratitude and special thanks to Amit Choudhary and Sumit Pachnanda for introducing me to the Salesforce world. Both Amit and Sumit believed in me and gave me my first break into the ecosystem, which has changed my life; I will be forever grateful. SaaSfocus played a critical role in developing me professionally and was the launchpad for the successful career I enjoy today.

Thanks to Reid Meldrum, Alyssia Tennant, and the rest of the Simplus leadership team for giving me great opportunities to grow and learn; I genuinely appreciate everything you do here.

I want to express my gratitude to Julie Kellaway, Sourabh Singh, Sunil Bhargava, Sakshi Chauhan ‘The A-team’. Working with you on ‘Star (TSEG)’ was one of the most memorable and exciting experiences in my Salesforce career.

Thanks to all the terrific people I’ve had the pleasure of working with during my Salesforce journey. I appreciate and treasure everything you have taught me along the way – Eloise Roberts, Carmen Glenister, Alex Odago, Kegan Copas, Prateek Kataria, Ryan Dean, Shikha Mahajan, Sanjay Pal.

I would also like to thank the wonderful and inspiring teammates/colleagues I’ve worked with within my career. I always appreciate your guidance, support & making work fun! – Juliette Lessing, Annelies Jonckheere, Lesley Millar, Indira Damodaram, King Ho, Tanjid Mowla, Komal Sharma, Vikas Nage Gowda and Chhavi Arya.

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