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  • Writer's pictureEmily McCowan

In Memoriam - Gemma Blezard, Founder of Ladies Be Architects

Updated: Nov 19, 2023



It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the passing of Gemma Blezard, a trailblazer and visionary leader who made indelible contributions to the Salesforce community. Gemma leaves behind her a legacy that will continue to inspire us and empower us to keep growing, to keep learning, and to keep challenging the status quo.


Gemma founded Ladies Be Architects in 2017 whilst pursuing her own Salesforce architect journey, when she found a lack of community and study resources available for those pursuing the CTA. Not one to wait for someone else to solve a problem, Gemma decided to create the community she craved, particularly to create a space for women to shine as leaders in Salesforce architecture.


Ladies Be Architects has influenced the explosion of Salesforce architecture resources - with now numerous blogs and YouTube channels, the Architect Ohana slack group (click this link to join), and even Salesforce’s own architect track at events like World Tour, TDX and Dreamforce, and the incredibly valuable Well-Architected framework. We have Gemma to thank - her enthusiasm, resilience, and kind generosity has impacted so many of us.


Ladies Be Architects will continue, in the memory of Gemma and remaining faithful to her vision, to break down barriers that are hindering women and non-binary folks from achieving their Salesforce architecture career goals.


The leaders and ambassadors of Ladies Be Architects have shared below some of our special memories of Gemma.


 

Charly

I spent a few hours today reading and reliving through our first texts in March 2018… before LBA was started and all the whirlwind stuff that happened. And Gemma and I had so much fun back then. We were both trying to pass the Mobile Designer exam and we were teaching each other about the transient keyword. Oh the texts we shared… remember this one about the checklist for a Lady CTA?


We then got LBA up and running - today I found a folder of all our first templates and logos and stuff… remember this one of us?original Ladies Be Architects… in the end neither one of us got our CTA but we got so much more. Our lives exploded, we got to make magic, just like we always said we would.


The world is definitely a smaller and sadder place today and forever going forward without you. I really pray that you have found peace and that God protect your soul. RIP.



Gemma and Charly

 

Susannah

Gemma came into my life at a very difficult time personally. Seeing a woman who, like me, dealt with many struggles, but continued to move forward, push farther, and bring others along with her, changed my life forever. Gemma saw something in me that I did not see in myself, and my success is in no small part due to her encouragement. While she always said that “it was all me”, I could not have shown up as my full self without her. I have not yet been able to process this incredible loss and I'll have more to say in time, but for now: Gemma I love you, I miss you, and I'll never forget you.

Susannah and Gemma

 

Vickie

I first met Gemma shortly after Ladies Be Architects was founded. I thought becoming a Salesforce Architect was out of my league, but through her light and determination and belief that we could all do this, I then truly believed that I coud do it too, and that is what Ladies Be Architects became. What you see, you can be and it’s all because of her.


I’ll miss our funny chats, your cheekiness, your drive and ambition, your honesty, your humour and the light you’d bring into a room. Together, we’ll keep your legacy going and hopefully continue to inspire others just as you did. Love you Gem. Rest now. You will never be forgotten.

Vickie, Gemma, Susannah and Charly

 

Emily

I first heard of Gemma in 2017, when she founded Ladies Be Architects. I was so inspired by this firecracker of a woman, I felt motivated to take some steps myself towards learning more about Salesforce architecture. I never met Gemma in person due to circumstance but we spoke many times on video calls and I was always left so energised to keep doing more to realise equality for women in Salesforce architecture.


Gemma was always such a cheeky, bright and intelligent person. I wouldn’t have achieved what I have in my career if not for the spark she ignited in me and in so many other people around the world. I’m always going to be grateful to you Gem, and know that I stand on the shoulders of an absolute giant as I try to keep your legacy going. Lots of love, your friend, Em.


 

Adrienne

I first met Gemma at a Ladies Be Architects party at Dreamforce in 2018. Hearing stories from Gemma, and other amazing architects that she'd inspired along the way lit something inside of me. I spent the next year learning all I could about the architect journey and interacting with Gemma and LBA. When Gemma, Charly and Susannah asked me to come on board as an ambassador in 2019, I was thrilled to be able to help share Gemma's dreams with the world. It will be one of the biggest honours of my life being able to help carry on Gemma's legacy. I'll forever miss your incredible wit, humour, ability to command a room, and the way you never let anyone tell you how you could and couldn't do things, in the most Gemma way, no holds barred. We love you Gemma, and you'll be missed immeasurably.


 

Nadina

I first met Gemma in person at Dreamforce 2018. Gemma was the driving force behind Ladies Be Architects and paved the way for countless others in the architect community, including myself. Her role as a Salesforce MVP wasn't just a title; she lived it every day, dedicating herself to helping others and sharing her vast knowledge with generosity and warmth.


Gemma's light shone brightly, inspiring all of us fortunate enough to cross her path. As an ambassador for Ladies Be Architects, I feel a deep sense of responsibility to continue her work and to keep her spirit alive in our efforts.


Gemma, you left us far too soon, but the path you've laid is a testament to your extraordinary life. You are profoundly missed, and your memory continues to be a guiding light for us all. With love, Nadina 🌻


Gemma, Nadina, Susannah and Charly at Dreamforce 2018

 

Melissa

I first started interacting with Gemma through the Ladies Be Architects group in 2018 when I completed all of my CTA prerequisites. I had no idea what to do next, and when I posted in the group Gemma responded that I should join a study group and that she would be starting one up soon. She kindly started a WhatsApp group (if you know Gemma, it’s one of her favorite things to do) in order to get a bunch of us female CTAs aspirants together to study. She then went on to tackle the review board May 2019, and I was able to sit in as a judge for some of her mocks while she prepared. Shortly after, I traveled over to London for the first time by myself to go to the London World Tour which had been something I wanted to do for a while. When I was there, Gemma welcomed me with open arms first meeting up with me at the Partner event the day before. She took me around there and at World Tour introducing me to everyone that she knew, which was pretty much everyone. She made sure that I was included and felt welcomed as if we had been friends for years. I will never forget her kindness, hospitality and generosity to keep me with her those couple of days, and include this American stranger in everything that she was doing without even asking.


Fast forward to 2021 when Gemma was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She asked me if I would want to be an ambassador for Ladies be Architects, and I said absolutely yes without a doubt. I wanted to carry on her legacy and vision and help continue an amazing organization and mission that she founded.


Gemma is a huge part of everything that I do today and one of the people that got me so deeply involved in the Salesforce community. I don’t even feel like there’s enough words to express my gratitude and love for her and how much she means to me. She was one of the most selfless and genuine humans I’ve ever known and I will deeply miss her friendship and physical presence, but her spirit and memory will live on with all of us 🌻💕. Love you so much Gemma, may you rest in peace now.


Gemma and Melissa at London World Tour 2019
Gemma and Melissa at London World Tour 2019
 

Blanca

Mourning the loss of a friend, mentor, and SHEro, may you rest in peace beloved Gemma. Your light will shine on like the tallest and biggest of all sunflowers in a field on any sunny day.


Reflecting on my journey and when our lives crossed paths and I can say, dearest Gemma left a remarkable imprint on my life and those of so many others.


Back in June 2018, I reached out to the Ladies Be Architects team to nervously raise my hand to help lead a PD1 study group. Without any reservation, Charly and Gemma welcomed my wild idea and supported me and the study group members along the way. I would realize afterwards how pivotal this experience was for me, as I was reinvigorating my career, but especially as a woman in tech who didn't fully understand her ability to contribute to the equality and diversity in tech movement, and one who much later in her life finally discovered her women in tech tribe. I wish I had found you all much sooner. I discovered firsthand the power of the LBA community, together we would challenge the status quo one study group, one certification at a time.


Gemma's brilliance, giving heart, and fierce leadership, like sunflowers provided seeds for anyone to take back with them to plant, nurture, and pass on more seeds. Society could use a lot more Gemma's in this world. She would rally others when we couldn't, or had trouble believing, or unable to fully see our own potential. Most importantly she had a dynamic energy about her that would ignite a movement as if we were all dancing as we took on some great challenges. Some in our personal lives, others in our careers and she helped me, like many others, feel that we could move mountains. Together we shared knowledge, solutions, advice, light, and remarkable friendships. You could say her smile, laughter, and light was contagious in the best way possible. She helped others find our inner light.

Some will come and go in your life, others like the sight of the tallest and biggest sunflower in a field where others didn't think the soil could grow anything, will leave a long-lasting impression, and will have touched your heart and help shape the future for many to come. I have stated this before, I am indebted to Gemma, Charly, and the entire Ladies Be Architect team for providing me a space to find my voice, learn how to be a leader, and find the strength to take on some of the tallest of mountains life presents us with. Gemma, you will never be forgotten, and your legacy will live on through our mission and in our hearts always. We love you.









 

Lilith

My first time meeting Gemma was at TrailheaDX in 2019 where she was shining a light on architect paths and how Ladies Be Architects can help you in this. I immediately loved her energy, whether it was a full breakout room with Susannah Kate Plaisted and Charly Prinsloo or grabbing people’s attention on the expo floor (with Mollie by her side). She did to me what she had and would continue to do for so many others in the community: she sparked a fire in me and gave me the guidance and confidence to dream big and go out there and do it.


While there are so many beautiful qualities we can learn from Gemma, I will always remain amazed by her courage. Regardless of the challenge which came her way, it seems like she had an innate ability to tackle it with courage and wrestle it into an opportunity to grow and to help others. If I can be even 10% as courageous as Gemma, I would be a bold woman for sure.


Losing Gemma so soon is heartbreaking. Her legacy will live on in the people she inspired and will continue to inspire and in the good she emboldened them to do. We will miss you, Gemma. With love, Lilith.


Gemma, Lilith, Miriam and Melissa at the first Yeur Architect Dreamin' (now known as Yeur Architectin') in 2022

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4 Comments


Guest
Dec 07, 2023

May her soul rest in peace.

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Guest
Nov 29, 2023

Wow, I bumped into Gemma a couple of Dreamforces ago. Told her I really enjoyed her work and inspired me. I can't believe she is gone.

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Guest
Nov 21, 2023

Gemma's persona will truly be missed. I recall on a discovery Zoom call back in 2021 with another person from her team, she personally shared with me in 2021 that her F'ing cancer was back with a vengeance and was going to beat it!... and she did for more than 2 years! My heart is so heavy to hear this devastating and unimaginable news. She was one of the kindest light of an encouragement that I will never forget. The empowerment she always emitted not only in "Ladies be Architect' she lived it daily & poured that same energy in anyone she met. She had such a unique way about herself with such a genuine authenticity, it will now …

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Guest
Nov 17, 2023

May her soul rest in peace.

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