What happens when people from different backgrounds come together to learn, grow, and move in a whole new direction? Read the stories of the recent grads from Elevate Talent’s Salesforce for All program for the answer to this question. They’ll inspire you to recognize that your network of support, a brand new skillset, and the confidence to take on the road ahead can lead you to a brighter future, as long as you take that first step.
Sehar Panjwani is an inspirational professional who credits the support of her tight-knit family for helping her navigate adversity along her career journey. “We moved around a lot growing up. I was born in Pakistan, but I went to 16 different schools in four different countries across two continents. My family was the only constant that I had in my life, and that made a huge difference,” she explains.
Sehar is an Associate Consultant at Diabsolut, a Salesforce Consulting Partner, where she helps businesses transform service and revenue operations. She had her eye on the company from the moment she sat in on the guest speaker presentations from Diabsolut and other Canadian tech companies while enrolled in Salesforce for All. “Each company did their own spiel about ‘this is what the company culture is like at our work’ and ‘this is the type of products that we create,’ and I remember when I saw Diabsolut’s [presentation] I was like, wow, this place would be a really cool place to work. But I never in a million years thought that would be a legitimate opportunity,” she recalls. Shortly after, she took on an optional assignment to present directly to Diabsolut, demonstrating how her solution-oriented approach could benefit their business. She impressed them so much that they offered her a job.
“I didn't think of myself as working in tech, but I knew that I always wanted to go into something that was centered around building business efficiency.”
Sehar began her career in retail sales and financial customer service, and the “aha” moment came when she recognized that she could leverage her strength as a client-facing problem-solver in the tech space. Like so many newcomers and people who have faced barriers to their career growth, Sehar never thought she would have the skills to work in tech. However, with the encouragement, mentorship, and technical skills training she received through the Elevate Talent program, Sehar started to feel like she belonged in this space. “I didn't think of myself as working in tech, but I knew that I always wanted to go into something that was centered around building business efficiency. Now I get to work real-time with real-world implications on business processes, and that is so cool.”
When asked what is the best career advice she’s ever received, she remembers something Margaret Stuart, Country Manager, Canada of Salesforce said early one morning during her time in Salesforce for All. “‘What would you do if you weren't afraid?’ It really helps to make clear what your priorities and what your goals are in a way that sort of takes the guilt and the shame of past failures away from you... I use that as a barometer to figure out what my next step needs to be.”
Now that Sehar is settled in her new role, she realizes that one of the highlights of Elevate Talent’s Salesforce for All program wasn’t only finding this job, but finding a support network that she could rely on every step of the way. “Diabsolut is so committed to fostering the growth of their workforce. It’s very similar to my time with Salesforce and Elevate Talent - where people, first and foremost, [are focused on] supporting your success in whatever way possible,” she says.
When she's not in consultant mode, or studying for her next round of certifications, Sehar can be found tending to her many plants and hunting for good movies.
After moving to Canada from Nigeria with her family, Chizoba Ezeibe started looking for work. She knew she wasn’t cut out to be a stay-at-home parent, and even though she hadn’t been able to crack into the STEM field in Nigeria with a degree in Polymer and Textile Engineering, she was confident that she had the technical skills to excel in the tech space. The opportunity she was seeking would need to see her combine the technical skills she earned through her STEM degree with her over five years of experience in business development and account management. That’s when Elevate Talent’s Salesforce for All program came into the picture. “I wasn't sure what to do... A friend just told me [about] this program... Then I spoke to one of [the] community partners. When she told me about the programs [Elevate Talent] provides [I said], I have to go for Salesforce.”
“Most people feel that once they come to Canada, they have to do a degree. This was something I could do in a short time frame that would equip me with the skills I need to excel in the marketplace. I'm glad this came my way.”
A mother of three, Chizoba found the course challenging at first but she stuck with it. She put in extra hours on top of the assignments she was given. Yet it was the support and encouragement of this new community that helped her persevere. Her new community included people from all over the world who spoke different languages. “With the [Elevate] cohorts, you're bringing immigrants from different countries... I got to meet all the people that also have the same challenges... People that have accents too, because the truth is that it's a challenge,” she says. Sharing these challenges in a safe space with fellow learners seemed to be the key to her success. Chizoba continues to maintain close relationships with the people she met during the course. She appreciates the atmosphere and the “brave space” she feels Elevate Talent created throughout her training.
One of the highlights of this micro-certification program for Chizoba was the fact that she built the technical Salesforce knowledge and career navigation skills needed to succeed in the tech space without having to take on the financial burden and time commitment of a traditional degree or diploma program. “Most people feel that once they come to Canada, they have to go do a degree or something. I'm like, it's not necessary because I have friends who have taken on lots of student loans to go do a four-year degree...[The Salesforce for All program] was something I could do in a short time frame that would equip me with the skills I need to excel in the marketplace. I'm glad this came my way,” she says with a smile.
With social justice on the brain, Zohaib Noorani’s career has been centered around challenging systems and using technology to build and nurture more equitable, just and inclusive communities. Zohaib grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and speaks fondly of his childhood. More of an experiential learner, he wasn’t a straight A student, yet developed street smarts early on.
His background in education and social entrepreneurship led him to Canada. Zohaib began pursuing his Master’s in Education Policy, and that’s when he decided to enroll in Elevate Talent’s Salesforce for All program.
“The program that I'm doing in school and the program that [I did] at Elevate was a perfect intersection at that point in time. Salesforce for All provided me an understanding of how business can be scaled. I want to help businesses who are creating impact on the ground, and the tools and skillset that I've received in this process will help me do that,” he notes.
“Salesforce for All provided me an understanding of how business can be scaled.”
Zohaib appreciated how holistically the Elevate Talent program was structured, not only by providing technical skills, but also by providing mentorship and job search tools that would prepare him for the next step in his career.
“Technical training is really important. But, we need to understand part of the job search process or career development process... As part of the Salesforce for All program, [there were] people who have walked through that process themselves. So they served as mentors in helping us understand how the process looks from their own lived experiences. Also helping us to understand what we bring to the table that's unique from our perspective, and that can add value to the career that we are jumping in right now,” he says.
The experience with Elevate Talent taught Zohaib the value of community and networking. He recalls, “While I was connecting with the people in the session and on LinkedIn, I was able to understand the community that I was going to work with more, and learned the ingredients that I need to perform and excel in this space.”
A filmmaker at heart, creativity is in Morooph Babaranti’s blood. Growing up in a family of six in Nigeria, Morooph’s grandfather, great grandfather and uncles are all drummers, and he has been passionate about the arts since he was young.
When Morooph came to Canada with his family, he already had a degree in Communication & Language Art as well as multiple credentials. He found a job in customer service, but he knew that wasn’t a long-term plan. Somehow, the stars aligned, and he found himself on track to enrolling in Elevate Talent’s Salesforce for All program. “I knew customer service wasn't going to be the end of it for me,” he remembers. “That was when I came upon Salesforce. I was using Salesforce software at the company, so when the opportunity came, when I saw the information about training to become a Salesforce Administrator or a Consultant, I thought they had created this program for me.”
“The good thing is that Salesforce skills can be applied in so many ways. You just have to be creative about it.”
With hard work, determination, and a program that was designed for newcomers like him, Morooph was able to develop the technical skills training and soft skills that are in high demand in the tech industry. The highlights of this program for him were centered around the way in which the training was presented and how easy it was to follow. “After what we were taught in the Salesforce for All program, you go on Trailhead and read more, watch videos, take up challenges and earn badges. That's very inviting and it makes it easy. It's tech devoid of the programming aspect of it. That's what really stood out for me.”
To complement his polished Salesforce skills, Morooph received valuable advice and guidance from his Success Advisor. By seeing things he didn’t see and encouraging him in motivational ways, the Success Advisor helped him carve different career paths, and build his skills in a more sustainable way.
From the get-go, Morooph saw Salesforce as a versatile tool he could use in the creative work that he was moving into. A communications specialist and then a film producer in Nigeria, he is eager to get back into production work and apply the skills he has learned to maintain that competitive edge. “Because I love Salesforce so much, I’m not letting it go. Even when I become a filmmaker. The good thing is that Salesforce skills can be applied in so many ways. You just have to be creative about it.”
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