This profile is published as part of Pledge 1%’s Women Who Lead series, which celebrates women in the Pledge 1% community who are creating change within their workplace and communities.

Stephanie Herrera is a Salesforce MVP who works at Spredfast as the Director of Salesforce and Business Operations.  She got her start in Technology 19 years ago at Dell.  After Dell she went on to work for a few startups as well as Apple.  After Apple she focused 100% of her energy on the Salesforce Platform.  Stephanie also has 3 Salesforce certifications.  She lives and breathes Salesforce, so much so that in January of 2014 she founded, and continues to lead, the very first Salesforce Women in Tech chapter in Austin that now has chapters throughout the U.S. as well as globally.  She also founded and has been leading Salesforce Saturday since March of 2015 that allows for work within the Salesforce platform to help grow individual skill sets within a team environment.  The concept has spread throughout the community, producing several new chapters throughout the U.S., India and the Netherlands.  Stephanie has also worked with Veterans and spouses of Veterans to help them get started in a career in Salesforce and has been a mentor within the Austin Partners in Education program for the last 3 and a half years.  Stephanie provides mentoring to children, teens, and adults in both their personal and professional lives.  As a result of her mentoring within the Saleforce Community and the Austin Community in general, she was rewarded as a finalist for Mentor of the Year at The Austin Under 40 Awards in 2016.

Q1:  What inspired you to work in this industry?

I love the Salesforce industry, but stumbled upon it by accident and I am so glad I did! The platform itself allows me to combine both my problem solving and creative interests into one. It also allows anyone that works in its ecosystem so many opportunities. I haven’t had to go “looking” for a job since 2011 when I left Apple to start my Salesforce Admin career back up!  The community is like a family and we actually like to refer to ourselves as “Ohana”. Technology is constantly changing, and you have to work to keep up with it. With the Salesforce community, it makes this easier to do and the community is invested in helping you succeed! My community is what BUILT ME! SO, the community is what inspires me to continue to work within this industry.

Q2:  What would you tell women who are looking to work in tech? 

Go for it! There is no better time in history than now to be forging a career in tech as a woman! When I first started working in tech 19 years ago at Dell, I didn’t even know how to turn on a computer, much less use it! I didn’t let that stop me, I knew I was capable of learning and that’s just what I did, and I’m so happy I did! The people I met in tech are not only directly responsible for the success I have experienced, but they have become some of my closest friends and have provided some of my fondest memories in life. You don’t have to have a Computer Science degree to get into tech. I only have a semester and a half of college and it was for a Business degree. I’d also like to think tech is more inclusive now than it was 19 years ago, and I don’t regret for a second having made this move. IF more women don’t get into the world of tech, then how will we ever close that gap? You have nothing to lose and so much to gain! More and more women are taking the reins and leading the way, so that more women can transition into tech easier. I’ve been so fortunate to meet and know some of these women, and I’m blown away by how dedicated they are, to paving the way for women in tech. Don’t let their hard work go to waste!

Q3:  Any advice on how they can build their career?

It starts and ends with your network, which should be made up of family, friends and co-workers. These are the people that will help develop you and let you know of future opportunities for professional growth! Add them all to your LinkedIn network, and make sure you keep your LinkedIn profile up to date with at least all of your previous roles and responsibilities. Also, Be RESOURCEFUL! Find a community of like-minded people who do what you want to do. People really do want to share their knowledge on how to succeed in their fields. Ask questions, lots of questions and then apply the advice and do the work! Then when someone asks questions of you, pass the knowledge on as well! Keep paying it forward, it will come back to you tenfold! From within this community find a Mentor. Also find a champion where you work. Also, Always Be Learning! Take any opportunity to expand your knowledge.  Read as often as you can, whether its online articles or books, just Keep Learning! For example, if you don’t know the difference between a Mentor and Champion, google it. There is a difference! If you invest in your network, your community and your continuous education you will succeed! Again, make sure you are updating your LinkedIn and other social media channels you are using for your personal brand. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it, be resourceful! Go in search of answers, don’t wait for someone to give them to you. IF you do all of this, your network will start to pay off for you in more ways than one!

Q4:  Is your company a Pledge 1% member or do you personally give back to your community? If so, how do you give and to what cause?

In my local community I work with Cloud Co-OP and the Merivis Foundation. Merivis and Cloud-Coop both help military vets transition into a career in technology by training them on the skill set needed to get a job in the Salesforce ecosystem and by either hiring them to work for them or helping them find job placement.  I’ve also started working with PepUpTech.org, which is an organization that is dedicated to enabling community based organizations to offer computer science and technology programs to underrepresented people! Also, Spredfast gives back to our local communities and encourages its employees to do the same. We have the hashtag #BeNiceAndSocial to help promote the spirit of giving!

Q5:  Do you serve as a mentor?

Yes! Mentoring is my world, and this too happened by accident. My first “mentor” type role happened when I worked at Dell as a Sales Coach, and it was something that just came very naturally that I really enjoyed. I founded and lead the first Salesforce Women In Tech chapter here in Austin in January of 2014, and have been leading it since and we meet every single month. I also founded and lead Salesforce Saturday here in Austin and have been doing so since March of 2015 and we meet EVERY Saturday.  With both groups I serve as a mentor, along with other amazing mentors in the community, that helps them not only build their skills but also helps them grow professionally in their careers based on our experiences in tech and the advice we’ve received from our mentors. I’ve also been working with http://www.austinpartners.org/mentor since 2013. I’ve been very fortunate to have been mentoring the same little boy since he was in the 2nd grade and he is now in the 5th grade and I have to come to terms with him entering junior high next year! As you can see, I am very passionate about mentoring and it’s because the mentors in my life, that have contributed to my success, have made life better not just for me and my children but also for those that I have the opportunity to mentor.

Q6:  What does mentorship mean to you?

Wow, I could write a novel about this question, but I won’t. I’ll do my best to keep it simple. Mentorship changes lives for both the mentee and the mentor! If you can contribute to the success of another, why not do so? We change the world, one person at a time, and one of the most effective ways of doing this is through mentorship. As mentors, we teach others how to help others and through mentoring, we make the world not only a better place, but a more informed place. When we can make someone else’s life a little better, they will pay it forward and society as a whole benefits!

Q7:  What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received to help you with your career? 

Career like a Man and don’t allow yourself to be Intimidated! The BEST career advice was something I read back in 2011 (It was an article on LinkedIn) about the differences between men and women when it came to applying for a job. Men will apply for a job that they are only somewhat qualified for, whereas women will only apply for jobs they are 100% qualified for. Now this is common knowledge, back then, it wasn’t.  Men take the risk and will rise to the occasion even when they may not be qualified for the role. It was a defining moment for me! I was tired of working 2 jobs, 7 days a week! It was at that moment, that I decided I was going to be more like a man, and start applying for jobs I wasn’t 100% qualified for, and it worked! The AVP of Legal Solutions that hired me as a Salesfore Admin, Scott Zimmerman, made the comment that “Stephanie WAY oversold her advanced excel skills, but EVERYTHING else she brought to the table was worth it!” He was right, the job called for experience with Pivot Tables, Ad Hoc Reporting and V-lookups, all of which I had no idea what they were at the time, much less how to do them, but I knew I could LEARN them, because people in my network told me I could. In the past, I allowed myself to be intimidated with what I “thought” was a lack of experience and expertise. Once I let go of that, I was finally able to fully reach my potential! This was the last time I went “looking” for a job and ever since then, the roles have come to me! ANY new role you take on, you are going to have to LEARN the ins and outs of it. As a matter of fact, the next role I went to, I was sought out by Neil Garrett the Director of Analytics at the time, again as a Salesforce Admin. He told me “You’ve brought more to the role than I knew we needed.” So, don’t sell yourself short, you have more to offer than you may even realize!

Q8:  What’s the one piece of advice you would give to yourself 5 years ago?

I would have told myself to have been fearless SOONER! To not doubt myself as much as I did, and to follow my instincts more. I also wished I had realized sooner, that you don’t have to be an “expert” to take that next step in your career or to help people! You just have to have the passion to learn and share what you’ve learned.  For this reason, this has become one of my favorite driving quotes in my life: “It’s not where you’re from; it’s where you’re going. It’s not what you drive; it’s what drives you. It’s not what’s on you; it’s what’s in you. It’s not what you think; it’s what you know.” ~ anonymous