In this post, we sit down and chat with one of Groundswell’s Senior Technical Consultants, Jay, as he shares his career journey, what his typical day is like, and what it takes to succeed in his role.
Tell us about your background. How did you first get into Cloud Computing?
I started working with the Salesforce platform 5 years before joining Groundswell. I remember working on my first cloud computing project at an IT Consulting firm back when Salesforce and cloud computing were virtually unknown terms. My training was primarily in Java – and here was Salesforce, allowing developers to customize business applications with just a few clicks.
However it was not until I was introduced to the coding side of Salesforce that I realized this was another beast altogether. I gained a better grasp of its capabilities and how customizing the platform through code could empower you to do amazing things in the cloud.
How would you describe your journey to becoming a Senior Technical Consultant?
When I initially interviewed for Groundswell, I recall finding 40% of the questions I was asked to be actually tough. This gave me the idea that there was still so much to learn and I was intrigued by the potential for increased exposure to other aspects of the technology.
I was at that point in my career where I felt like my learning pace kind of slowed down; therefore I was more focused on the growth opportunities Groundswell had to offer. It seemed there was a high frequency and wide range of projects which presented so many opportunities for me to learn things – and that really appealed to me.
What do you like most about being a Groundswell Consultant?
I like that I don’t just sit at my desk and code all day. I really enjoy interacting with our clients and partners alike, and learning about their business processes. At Groundswell, we get amazing opportunities to work with the leading, most cutting-edge technology available. It’s a privilege to be part of a group who are the first ones to do things a unique way or utilize a piece of technology.
I find that we always build something new for every client – we never copy and paste whatever we’ve done from a previous project for another customer, as there’s a different flavor for every customer we cater to. The company also covers a range of different industries but there’s never a one-size-fits-all solution. We’re constantly pushed to think in different ways – we could be dealing with the same report with the same data but there are so many different ways of presenting them to provide our clients with various insights to meet their needs.
Can you tell us briefly about some of the projects you’ve worked on at Groundswell?
I started writing Apex code and assisting with declarative configuration. At about the same time, I was also part of a Integration/Data Migration project where I was able to apply a lot of my previous knowledge and experience, as well as work on custom Visualforce pages.
A few months later, I then had the privilege to be part of a project which involved native Mobile App development with a supporting Salesforce backend. I worked closely with the client’s team every day to deliver a truly scalable and easy-to-use solution which had multi-currency, multi-language and multi-country override capabilities for a global distribution company.
Just last year, I was assigned to take the lead on a large Wave Analytics project, working closely with the client’s team to implement a Retail-specific use case, and have since been part of several other Wave projects. Each implementation is different and we get to innovate each time – which really helps in building and honing our expertise.
How would you compare your previous working experience to your current role at Groundswell?
Ever since I joined Groundswell, I’ve always been exposed to the entire end-to-end process of project delivery. I liked that I was given the opportunity to be very hands-on with every step of the process and I’m able to explore most, if not all aspects of the Salesforce platform. In my previous experience, I would usually be assigned to just one or a few related areas, and while I was still learning, I felt the pace really slows down after spending years of being exposed to just one thing. There was much less client interaction as well since it was mostly managed by a different team.
I also enjoy learning about new applications of the technology itself. With the types of projects we work on, we always need to find creative ways to solve unique problems – and as a result, we’re constantly trying to find new ways of doing things. I personally find this helps us innovate at a much faster pace, allowing each person to explore more than a typical consultant would.
What are the skills you need to succeed?
I would say one must definitely have the technical expertise – you should know what you’re talking about when speaking to clients. Having said that, good communication skills also help. You have to learn how to ask the right questions which can save the project a lot of time and effort. I must admit though, because I’ve had limited client interactions in the past, I feel I have lots of room to improve in this area. I would say my role now definitely helps me develop this particular skill set.
Having the right attitude is also important. You must be willing to take that extra step and put in the added effort to deliver the best solution you can provide. You must have the initiative to find something out on your own, researching, and enriching yourself without being told to do so.
Here at Groundswell, we are very fortunate to have a wealth of resources in our internal Knowledge Base which our very own team helps build – that, and being exposed to a wide array of industry-specific projects gives us the right tools and know-how so we can evaluate solutions and recommend the best one to the client.
Describe a typical day at work.
Daily Huddle: Our team gathers together for a few minutes everyday to briefly discuss what each individual has on his/her plate as well as provide some updates on what they’re working on. This helps the team keep track of each other’s work and ensure that projects are on schedule and the risks (if any) are called out early on. It also helps us with resource allocation and improve the team’s efficiency.
Scrum Call (i.e. Check-in Call with Client): As part of Groundswell’s methodology, scrums allow us to keep up-to-date and engage with our clients on a regular basis. This helps us monitor the project’s progress with a close eye so we can respond and act swiftly when some requirements change or when unforeseen events occur. It also provides a great deal of transparency to our clients – which is consistent with one of Groundswell’s well-kept values, TRUST.
After having my lunch, I would normally be engaged with some clients via Skype or Slack to help answer some outstanding questions they may have. On some days, I am involved in internal meetings too.
My afternoons are usually spent doing hands-on development work. I can be writing code for reporting purposes to determine how pieces of data are pulled from different sources. I could also be creating and scheduling data flows for Wave dashboards. Once I’ve worked on my JIRA tickets, I go and examine what else needs to be done in my project’s current Sprint.
Some days I may have to get into another Scrum Call with another client for another project which involves CMS development, specifically creating items and components as well as checking the limits we need to take note of. This also involves updating the API’s required and writing meaningful Test Classes.
How have your team members helped in your professional development?
Everyone here is knowledgeable and always willing to help. I get to learn from team members and mentors alike. I think the only thing that can limit you is the time you have in your hands. People here have been working with Salesforce for a long time and they know the platform inside and out. It’s great to have access to such valuable resources which make it easier to overcome challenges.
What advice would you give to people who are interested in becoming a technical consultant, or are currently in a similar role and would like to advance?
Always know what you are doing and really explore every aspect of what you’re working on thoroughly. Be a “Master of Your Trade” instead of becoming a “Jack of All Trades”. Focus on one thing you are working on and just take it upon yourself to really immerse yourself and learn as much as you can about that area. Even if you move on to an entirely different project afterwards, you can always build on your expertise. Always learn from your mistakes and know when to improvise and when to innovate.
When he’s not writing code and helping clients, Jay enjoys riding his bike and would readily take it out every chance he gets. The longest distance he’s travelled so far has been close to 91 kilometers pedalling from Kits to hop on several buses in order to reach Abbotsford for the Tulip Festival. Most of the time, he’ll also have his DSLR camera with him to take pictures of beautiful Vancouver and capture moments he encounters while exploring the city. Some of his favorite spots are the Seawall, Stanley Park & Habitat Island. He recently caught a glimpse of the elusive Aurora Borealis at Spanish Banks while riding one Saturday evening.
Think you have what it takes to be like Jay? Apply to the Technical Consultant position.