Apttus is thrilled to feature its twentieth installment of the Salesforce MVP of the Month program, in which we spotlight the exceptional leaders of the Salesforce Ecosystem that have lent us their expertise, knowledge, and ongoing contributions, ensuring both our individual improvements and the betterment of the platform as a whole. It’s thanks to these individuals that our daily questions have been answered on the Success Community, difficult admin tasks have been made easier, and even empowered some of us to get certified.

 

For February, the Salesforce MVP of the Month is Leyna Hoffer. Much like many others, Leyna didn’t start her career as a Salesforce Administrator. In 2002, the company she was working for decided to purchase Salesforce as their CRM and asked Leyna if she was willing to learn. And 15 years later, hundreds of people are glad she said, “sure.” Enough small talk – let’s meet Leyna!
1.  How and when did you get started with the Salesforce ecosystem? What was your first role and initial reaction to the platform? Like many others, I didn’t start my career as a Salesforce Administrator. In 2002, I was working for Silicon Graphics (SGI), a supercomputer company, as a Database Coordinator. When the decision to purchase Salesforce as their CRM was made, they needed someone to take on the administration. They asked me if I was willing to learn, and of course, I said, “sure.” They didn’t have Trailhead or certifications back then, and the only training classes that were offered for Salesforce Admins were at the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco, so I packed my bags and headed west to attend the Admin 201 class. I learned a ton and even though I didn’t know it at the time, began forging relationships with people that would shape my career in the years to come. My instructor was none other than Erica Kuhl, who is currently Vice President, Community at Salesforce, a constant thread and influence in my Salesforce career. I very quickly fell in love with the power and flexibility of Salesforce. After rolling it to the Sales and Marketing Teams at SGI, I felt like an expert. Little did I know, that I had only scratched the surface! It didn’t take long to realize that Salesforce was constantly changing and improving and I would have to stay on my toes in order to keep up! Over the past 14 years, I’ve gone on to rollout and/or manage Salesforce implementations at several different companies who all use it differently. I’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow at each new venture!
2.   What is your favorite thing to do in Salesforce and why?   Automate manual processes. Any time I can take a process out of a spreadsheet, or save an end user valuable time, it gives me a warm feeling inside – like I’m making a difference. It could be something as simple as installing an app from the AppExchange, or something as complex as building a custom app from scratch. Either way, if I have solved a problem and made an end user’s work life easier, I’ve done my job!
3.   What is your (or your client’s) top pain point in Salesforce?   Learning how to juggle. Salesforce Admins have many responsibilities – setting up and training new users, understanding all of the business processes of your organization, communicating new functionality and processes, reporting on and analyzing the data, keeping the data clean and accurate, configuring and customizing the system, staying on top of new release features, documenting changes to the database, managing AppExchange apps, ongoing support of users, and so much more. You constantly have so many balls in the air, you have to determine which ones are glass and will break if you drop them and which ones are rubber and you can let them bounce for a bit.
4.   The AppExchange has thousands of apps. For custom things you (or your client) need, do you build or buy, and why?   I love the AppExchange!!! Seriously, huge fan here. The AppExchange is my first stop to find a solution – both partner solutions that come at an additional cost, as well as free solutions that I can download and then customize to fit our business needs. Sometimes it makes sense to buy a ready-made solution and other times, it is best to build something on your own. Either way, I start with the AppExchange and if nothing else, I at least get inspiration for what can be done!

5.   Many Community members depend on MVPs to get their questions answered. Who do you turn to when you have a tough question that needs to be answered?  I’m no different than any other Community member. If I have a question, the first people I turn to are my fellow Salesforce MVPs. Not only are they some of the most knowledgeable people I know, but they are also naturally inclined to help others. What a great combo! In addition to my fellow MVPs, I turn to the members of the Twin Cities Salesforce User Group. For 9 years, I had the privilege of being a User Group Leader for this terrific group of people – sometimes as a solo leader, and other times as a co-leader with Kathy Ecklund. I have since “retired” from being a User Group leader, but I still attend the meetings and participate on a regular basis. This is THE place to meet other Salesforce Admins from other companies that are using Salesforce and learn about how they are using it. Lots of knowledge exchanging going on there! And last, but not least, when I have a question, I turn to the Salesforce Admins that report to me. I have recruited some of the best and brightest to work with me and they each bring a different skillset and perspective to the table. I don’t know what I would do without Dorrie Spahr, Candace Carter and Ann Marie Woelfel to bounce ideas off of on a regular basis.

6.   What piece of advice would you give someone who is just starting a career in the Salesforce Ecosystem?  I can never give just one piece of advice… the recipe I would recommend is:

  • Get Educated – whether that is self-training, Trailhead modules, becoming certified, taking advantage of all the Hands on Training sessions provided at Dreamforce or regional conferences, attending Webinars or any combination of those, you have to stay on top of the ever-changing and improving functionality!
  • Get involved with the Salesforce Community – Join and participate in your local user group – volunteer to present or to help with a meeting. Find groups on the Salesforce Success Community to join and follow – ask and answer questions there.
  • Network, network, network – Attend Dreamforce. I have attended 13 of them and I have walked away from every single one with new relationships that have shaped my career. Tweet and follow those who tweet about Salesforce. Join and participate in Salesforce networking groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Getting involved will make you more knowledgeable, and being more knowledgeable will make you a better Salesforce Admin (or developer, or analyst, etc.)

7.   We all know there is life outside Salesforce. What do you enjoy doing when you are off the platform?  I am an avid traveler, and I truly love any place that has a sandy beach and some sunny rays. My boyfriend and I have been traveling together for 28 years and have been to 36 US states and 7 countries, so far. I am also a die-hard Minnesota Vikings fan, which is not always an easy thing to be. Our time will come – Go Vikes!

Follow Leyna on Twitter.

With a full track devoted to CRM #AwesomeAdmins, their woes, and best practices – Accelerate will draw in Salesforce MVPs from across the country. Click Below to learn how you can join.