We LOVED hanging out with Allie at Dreamforce 2019 – which feels like years ago. As we are all missing each other a lot and going through some hefty times, we want to shine a light on Allie Lawlor, Business Systems Analyst in Minneapolis.
“I’m very much a newbie in the Salesforce ecosystem! I am currently a Business Systems Analyst at a great SaaS company in downtown Minneapolis called SPS Commerce. Working there for just over 3.5 years, I started as a customer support analyst in our call center. I live in nearby St. Louis Park, and spend most of my time outside of work exploring events and breweries (Minnesota has tons of them!), relaxing with family, enjoying the varied Minnesota outdoors, or volunteering.
"I am very passionate about serving communities, whether it be my own or those across the globe. I do a lot of work with All Hands and Hearts, a disaster relief organization doing incredible things to help communities recover after a natural disaster. I’m actually working on a side project to help bring Salesforce learning and tech to these same communities, which readers can find out more about, and join in on the effort, at my website. On a lighter note, I also spend quite a bit of time reading fantasy novels (love Harry Potter!) or at local dives and karaoke bars, because I love to sing! I’ve been playing the piano since I was about four, and I love to sing along while I play."
Allie, tell us how you got into working with Salesforce?
“After working as SPS as a support agent for a year and a half, I started getting more involved with process improvement. Since Service Cloud is the primary tool used by our Customer Success teams, that meant I got to be more involved with making tweaks and improvements in our 14-year-old implementation to make it more valuable for agents. After doing that for almost a year, I transitioned formally into a Business Analyst role, handling Salesforce inquiries, training, and changes for all of Customer Success.
“In the almost two years that I’ve been working on the back end of Salesforce, I’ve done a ton of growing and learning, and found a career I’m truly passionate about. Who knew that providing just the right solution could be so gratifying? Just this last year, I became a Trailhead Ranger, Trailblazers for the Future certified trainer, Service Cloud insider, Certified Administrator, Lightning Champion, and speaker at Connections, Trailblazer Summit, and Dreamforce in 2019. I’m happy to be starting out my 2020 as a speaker at the January Twin Cities User Group meeting and Salesforce Saturday, as well as participating in #100DaysofTrailhead — 2X Ranger, here I come!”
What was your background before Salesforce came along?
“I am all about customer experience–internal and external! Before SPS Commerce, I was in retail management, with a long history of customer service jobs. I have done (nearly) everything. Food service at Taco Bell and Wendy’s, serving and bartending at Applebee’s, administration at Best Western, retail at Best Buy, Walgreen’s, Icing/Claire’s, Lane Bryant, Torrid, and more. I never thought I’d be here.
“While managing at Torrid, my most recent full-time retail gig, I didn’t have super high aspirations because I knew it was hard to break into different corporate industries. But something I always try to stress to companies is that you can find the best–and I mean best–people in retail. So many companies haven’t caught on to Salesforce’s customer service strategies, so they don’t empower front-line agents. And that makes for very creative problem solvers who bring innovation and true customer-centric perspective.”
How did you hear about Ladies Be Architects?
“Dreamforce! This last year was my first Dreamforce, and when starting to look at sessions, I was immediately excited about the Ladies Be Architects whiteboarding session where we would be given a set of business requirements, and build solutions as a team.
“From that moment, I worked to learn what I could, find out more about the official Salesforce Architect path, and definitely made it a priority to show up early to get in line for what ended up being my favorite session at DF19!”
What feelings did Ladies Be Architects inspire within you?
“It sounds so cheesy when I say it out loud, but I felt like I found my spot. As a person who is creative, outspoken, a total extrovert, but also really logic-driven, sometimes I feel very out of place.
“I’m too much of a driving force for fields that are traditionally tied to “soft sciences,” wanting to get into the weeds, but also really bubbly and talkative, so I don’t fit in well in a room full of developers, either. So learning that there is a group that will help me learn and cultivate skills to be something that perfectly marries these two halves of me together feels….great. I feel accepted, and valued, and like I really know what I’m going to want to do with my life, long term.”
Tell us why the architect journey is important to you...
“In school, or even generally outside the workforce, at career fairs, etc. no one tells you that business analysis or solutions architecture is a job. There are a lot of folks who have a back-end mindset but a front-end personality and don’t know what there are jobs in tech that will fit them. When I finished college, and for four years afterward, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grow up (for I’m still not a grown-up, I’m afraid!), which I now attribute to the fact that I just didn’t know my dream job existed.
“Now I do, and it’s in solutions architecture. It’s critical for this Architect Journey structure to exist, to be marketed, and for us to participate in spreading the word, because it’s beneficial to front lines, it’s beneficial to back-end teams, and it’s truly beneficial for the many people who will fit perfectly, and don’t know there’s a place for them.”
Any tips or advise for anybody who is looking to further their career as a Salesforce architect?
“Take advantage of the resources given to you, and seek out and ASK for those that aren’t. While we have so many options at our disposal to learn–Trailhead, architect tracks at events, great groups and mentors with LBA–there still might be folks who don’t know the value of having an architect at their company or on their team.
“Ask for the option to attend further training. Ask to go to conferences. Ask to have discussions about creating architect and business analyst positions if your company doesn’t have them. Share the value an architect can provide. And be present on Twitter and LinkedIn. I learn so much just by reviewing my feed each morning, or during lunch. There is a whole community of folks out there who are also learning and sharing (and helping!) that you can be exposed to in just five minutes a day.”