by Senga Poettcker
As someone who was extremely change-averse with preconceived ideas about the Tech Industry, and who saw Financial Services as a lifelong career, my journey to Salesforce Project Management was very unexpected. This journey has been both challenging and fulfilling, especially since I am someone who likes to make positive impacts through change. I believe that it is never too late to use transferable skills, like strong communication, organization, and team leadership, to embark on a new career opportunity and succeed. My successes have been largely due to the trusted relationships I have built throughout my journey. Here is my story:
Cultivating a Project Management Mind Set
I don’t remember a time when ‘teacher’ was not my answer to what I wanted to be when I grew up. Many skills you need to be a teacher are similar to those needed in Project Management: the ability to create and implement plans, lead teams, and communicate frequently with key stakeholders. But how I got here has more turns than you’d expect. I followed the educational journey to become a teacher quite far, but when it came time to pay for post-secondary tuition, I accidentally landed in a different industry. I remained in Financial Services and kept learning for over 30 years until my transition to Tech in 2021.
Finding Connection in Financial Services
A trusted relationship opened the door for me, and in I walked! Starting as a bank customer service representative was a fantastic learning opportunity with the bonus of an attractive compensation package to pay for university tuition. This job, in my mind, was temporary until I completed my teaching degree. I was so convinced about my future direction that when asked the interview question: “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” I confidently answered: “I will be a teacher”. Over the next 14 years as I progressed from Representative to Senior Credit Analyst, I realized that a career in Education was no longer important for me, but relationship building certainly is! Not only did the relationships forged during this time lead me to my next opportunity at a subprime lender, but some of them remain strong to this day.
Embracing Change and a Move to Management
Subprime lending focuses on helping borrowers with ‘out of the box’ needs. My time working in this segment of financial services was short, with the 2008 economic collapse greatly impacting the duration. During these three years, I struggled with stepping outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully others recognized my abilities, which enabled me to move to a management role and take on increasingly complex responsibilities. It was here that my relationships taught me a lot, including the importance of embracing change and the effectiveness of working as dedicated teams with an Agile mindset, things I have aimed to duplicate with project management ever since. I am forever grateful for the many who helped me build confidence and have great respect for the members of the pilot High Performance IT team that I worked alongside as a Business Representative during my first Agile Project.
A Manager who lends a hand
When the subprime crisis closed the door on my work in mortgage lending, my two-time former banking manager held another door open for me by connecting through LinkedIn. I began working at an Investment Dealer, which was quite a pivot for me, and the learning curve was steep. Here, the trust of this manager enabled me to take on new challenges. This period overflowed with change and project management opportunities for partners and internal operations departments. It was where trust allowed my colleagues to open up about pain points and share their ideas for successful solutions. Those who were open to me asking “How can I help” collaborated with me as a team to make meaningful change, and I grew to enjoy the variety and time-boxed nature of projects.
Moving into the Tech World
How did I land in IT, specifically in Salesforce project management? Well, what happened next occurred in the blink of an eye:
- Due to a merger, I moved on from my role at the Investment Dealer.
- A trusted partner relationship allowed me to pursue a specialization as a part-time independent consultant in process improvement.
- The process improvement focus naturally extended to me completing the Project Management Professional (PMP)© for implementing process enhancements.
- The PMP© completion provided the opportunity to lead a Salesforce implementation project for a client.
- Through work on the project, I began a relationship with a Salesforce Systems Integrator.
- The Salesforce Systems Integrator relationship led to a Project Manager opportunity for implementation projects.
- I added Salesforce project work to my LinkedIn profile and resume.
Finding flexibility with Salesforce and Groundswell
Exposure to Salesforce provides so many opportunities! Through Linkedin I met the most enthusiastic and genuine Talent Acquisition Manager who asked me about becoming a full-time Project Manager at Groundswell; the relationship we began right there, although new, quickly gained my trust. Along my Financial Services and Financial Services Support journey I also became a parent, so working for someone else (which was once very familiar) had not crossed my mind for some time. I decided to leap out of my Financial Services comfort zone because I trusted this newly formed relationship. During the Groundswell interview process, everyone I met built trust simply by doing what they said, at or before the committed timeline. Before I knew it, I was a full-time Project Manager in tech and am continuing my interesting career journey in a different space, using the skills deeply rooted in me from my roles in Financial Services. At Groundswell, I benefit from a hybrid work environment: working from home empowers me to arrange my work schedule during times that fit within my life schedule.
My journey shows that I am no spring chicken, but if you build and maintain trust in your working relationships and walk through the doors that these open, anything is possible. No matter what industry you are in I will leave you with one question: Is it your time for a pivot, or a full-on change in direction?