08 Oct 2019

How Rachel became a Salesforce Application Architect

By: Manola van Diest

Never stop learning: from Salesforce consultant to Application Architect and Lightning Champion


And again, we have great news to share. Our very own Salesforce Consultant and sherpa Rachel van den Berg has recently obtained the status of Certified Salesforce Application Architect. An impressive achievement that comprises 4 certificates: App Builder, Sharing & Visibility Designer, Data Management & Architecture and Platform Developer 1. Time to interview this talented Woman in Tech to ask her about her journey and her way to go.

What brought you to the world of IT?

“I've studied hospitality management. A challenging and versatile study, with a focus on customer satisfaction that is applicable to many industries. So after graduation, I started as a sales trainee at a fast growing IT-staffing & recruitment company. That was an interesting mix of getting to know IT, working with young ambitious people and pursuing challenging goals.

I loved the interaction with customers, pushing forward and challenging them to formulate an optimal candidate profile. But success was only complete once you also proposed the right candidate. I was never satisfied by just closing the deal, I also helped recruitment to make the perfect match since that was the ultimate goal. It was a fun job, but after a few years it was time to move on. I then took a job as a Sales consultant where I came into contact with Salesforce as a user for the first time.”

How did you end up with Talent Peaks?

“That was a leap of faith, which I’ve never regretted for one single day. Joram and Stijn had just started Talent Peaks and they were so successful that already in the first months they started looking for more talent to strengthen the team. My experience with Salesforce and IT-recruitment perfectly fitted their focus on the Staffing & Recruitment industry. For me it brought along a new challenge: as an implementation consultant, not only I had intensive contact with customers, but also I could configure and build technology myself.“

So you became a Salesforce expert?

“Yes. And the great thing is, with its courses, the Trailheads, and community support Salesforce has an infinite range of online knowledge material you can take for free and in your own time. I find it very powerful to combine online learning with practical project experience. You know, it’s just fun getting to know your way around Salesforce. I gained my first Salesforce admin certificate after 2 months.

And from there, I never stopped learning. It has become sort of a habit for me when I work on a project to constantly check what’s new and what topics I’d like to dive into some more. For me it works best to combine learning and working. And, that’s another cool thing about Salesforce: in their Salesforce Playgrounds you can practice and replicate actual situations just like you were working for a customer.”

What was your most challenging project?

“Well, every project has its challenges, for example I had a lot of fun mastering CPQ (Configure-Price-Quote). When I started working with it, CPQ was only recently acquired by Salesforce. Things were still in transition and the user documentation was not yet migrated. So we had to dive deep, explore and figure out a lot ourselves. CPQ is a really cool App especially now it works in Lightning. It’s flexible, you can make tailor made configurations, the styling looks cool and also the user experience is state-of-the-art.”

You are talking about 'we' now?

“True. Talent Peaks kept on expanding rapidly, so we welcomed more and more new colleagues in the team. When I started, there were only 5 of us, now we already are with 28! Internally, this brought about different needs, such as knowledge sharing and assurance, standardization, training and adoption procedures, etc. After a year I became Sherpa of the implement team. Sherpa’s guide their colleagues and work with the Management Team on optimizing customer journeys and expanding the impact of the different expertise areas so we can get stronger as a team.”

Working as a team is important for Talent Peaks

"Collaboration is very important for us. As colleagues, we work like a family where we value and trust each other, offering room for development but also have fun and support each other if needed. Besides that, we are also active in the Salesforce community, where people support each other, share information, give feedback and learn from each other. For me, this is getting even more important now, because I’m working on obtaining the status of Salesforce Lightning Champion. An honorary title for people who are actively and successfully supporting the community to learn more about working with Salesforce Lightning."

And now you’ve become a Salesforce Application Architect yourself?

[Blushes] “My career at Talent Peaks up till now feels like one big challenging journey. But I also went on a real journey which was rather cool. Last year, the management selected two colleagues to go visit the Salesforce Dreamforce event in San Francisco USA. I was the lucky one, together with Daniëlle de Ruwe. Visiting Dreamforce is a true mind blowing experience. You are literally immersed in the world of Salesforce.

We visited heaps of sessions and interesting workshops in which we discovered many new features, plans and developments. We learned a lot and shared some highlights in our blogs and vlogs.

At Dreamforce, I came into contact with Ladies Be Architects for the first time. This is a movement of women who help each other and evangelize equality and diversity amongst Salesforce admins and architects. This session inspired me to become a Salesforce Application Architect myself. And, after a great deal of studying, here I am!

Application Architects do a really cool job. You clarify the need of a customer and then you design a functional process which you translate to a working application. The great thing about doing that on Salesforce is that it is mainly a clicks no code thing. You can build a complete data model with mere configuration.”

What will be your next step?

“I’m really proud of where I am now, but knowing me, I will continue to develop myself on a non stop basis. I want to learn more about tech architecture, but also Salesforce has some clouds that I would like to explore in detail. Never a dull moment with Salesforce, they constantly grow and improve, so I always have new challenges I can indulge in.

Besides, I love helping our customers and support others to learn and make impact. So I also see myself developing my guiding talents some more in the future. That’s what it's like working at Talent Peaks. We are constantly developing and growing, and we have plenty of room to create and reinvent our own careers. Nice example of that is our most recent initiative: the Salesforce Academy in which I also have a guiding role.” 

Curious how the Salesforce ecosystem can impact your business?

Are you active in the Professional Services, Staffing & Recruitment or the Media Services industry? As a niche consultancy party we deeply understand your business. Reach out. We’re happy to explore the possibilities of Salesforce for your organization with you.