This article originally appeared on Apttus.
Apttus is to feature it’s second 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.
Geraldine Gray runs Endiem, a salesforce.com practice based in Houston. She started the Girly Geeks at Dreamforce six years ago and is very engaged with the Salesforce Community. She’s been called a “Salesforce Power Broker,” which is is scary, nerdy, and hilarious, but kind of true as her connections to Salesforce customers and partners run far and deep and wide. She really likes ironing, cooking and cleaning but is usually too busy golfing, running and drinking wine for her favorite hobbies. Geraldine is a leader, an inspiration and one of my personal heros. She was also recently featured on our Salesforce MVP Infographic as one of the MVPs with the most Twitter followers, and if you were curious, her handle is @GeraldineGray.
1. How and when did you start working with Salesforce?
I have been working with CRMs since 1994 and with Salesforce since 2000. I started out with simple admin work which I used to help fund some of my way through Texas A&M University (Gig ‘em, Aggies!). In 2007 I became a consultant and three years ago I started Endiem – our second customer was Salesforce which was an unbelievable opportunity (no pun intended), opened many, many doors for us and are incredibly fun to work with.
2. What couldn’t you imagine doing every day without Salesforce or the AppExchange?
That’s like being asked to choose your favorite child! Well, we use Cirrus which puts Salesforce and TaskRay in our Gmail so I guess we have the best of both worlds. But every single customer we work with has Salesforce so it would be hard for us to get anything done without both.
I’m also very involved in the AppMavericks video series which teaches users about new and innovative AppExchange products and is a huge amount of fun. See – just can’t pick one!
3. Most of us depend on MVPs like you to answer our questions. Who do you turn to if you have a question about Salesforce?
Yep, there’s certainly a circle of incredible talent in the MVP group. My go-to folks are usually Matt Lamb (very good for sanity checking), Jeff Douglas (who tells me nothing is impossible) and Eric Wu (who has the patience of a saint when it comes to answering my TaskRay questions and then telling me not to break it too much!).
4. What is your favorite app (or top 3 if you can’t decide) from AppExchange and why?
Cirrus Insight – it puts Salesforce in your email client which makes you look like you have the memory of an elephant because you are always one step ahead of your task list, leads, opportunities and emails.
TaskRay – we use TaskRay to run our projects within Salesforce and to keep us on track as when we have 30+ projects all working at once it can feel a bit hectic on Monday mornings. We also work with several customers who have TaskRay and we help them to customize it to fit their business processes. It’s a really flexible tool that encourages efficiencies, collaboration and getting stuff done on time.
Panaya ChangeGuru + Field Trip – when we are working on an existing org we use these tools to forensically examine the impact of our changes on users and data before we enact them.
5. Do you have any advice for brand new Salesforce users?
The most important task is to understand and learn the Salesforce data model – there’s lots of cool stuff you can do in Salesforce but if you don’t understand the data model you will make choices you regret in the future. So (i) sign up for a free developer org using your personal email (so it will always belong to you) and (ii) sign up for the Success Community “Circles Of Success” webinars which are free, then (iii) get working on Trailhead and practice your new skills.
6. What are you looking forward to most during the upcoming Dreamforce?
The Girly Geeks event on Monday evening. Dreamforce starts a day early for women attending the conference – they provide a place for women to be inspired, to connect and to make friends which sets the tone for their whole week. Dreamforce is so much more fun when you have a like-minded tribe to hang out with and to share your experiences; this is why I started the Girly Geeks six years ago and now there are thousands of women from all over the world meeting regularly and supporting and inspiring each other.
7. What kinds of things are you involved in, like to do outside of the Salesforce ecosystem?
All the things! I run, practice yoga, play golf and/or cycle every week. Living in Houston means it’s hot, hot, hot in the summer but we can be outdoors all year round.
We often travel for fun. In 2015 we’ve been to Salt Lake City, Scotland, San Antonio, Florida, California and Ireland and I’m off to Hawaii in November. My lovely husband is very involved with The Folds of Honor Foundation and several other military charities and their fundraisers keep us busy. We have two wiener dogs who are always looking for a walk or to play ball in the park. And I like wine – hard to get through the week without a glass or two.