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#choosetochallenge: a story of creativity

For our third interview, I had the pleasure of virtually journeying over to London to chat with Vera Loftis, Managing Director of Solution Junkies. As she’s grown throughout her career, so has her relationship with Salesforce. Vera has found herself questioning and redefining the way business works, which has often led her to create and explore new paths and business models for herself, with Salesforce in tow.

How she found herself in the Salesforce ecosystem . . .

Vera haphazardly fell into the ecosystem. She was a liberal arts major who had never considered IT or consulting. She originally had gone into marketing but found that her marketing coordinator role didn’t suit her aspirations and she had no idea what she would do next.

“I panicked and applied for all kinds of jobs.”

Her cousin was a consultant at the time and suggested that she explore consulting, specifically a company called Bluewolf. After one interview with the CEO, she was hired. They didn’t know what to do with her particular skill set at the time, so Vera started in an entry-level position. She began working on Salesforce certifications straight away by studying for the Salesforce admin certification, but there was one slight problem: she didn’t know anything about systems and had never previously heard of Salesforce. “I came home one day thinking I had made a mistake. It was a shock to the system.” Still, she kept studying, and shortly, Salesforce began to click for her.

Photo provided by Vera Loftis

As she geared up for her journey with Bluewolf, a conversation with CEO Eric Berridge showed her the potential for career growth when he asked:

“Well, what are you going to do here?”

Her journey at Bluewolf was nothing short of impressive. Although she began in 2007 as a Business Analyst, Vera climbed the ladder to become UK Managing Director of Bluewolf in 2012. Vera grew a team of 10 to a team of 60 and was responsible for thought leadership around the Salesforce consulting industry. As a leader, Vera also ensured that Bluewolf had a successful integration into IBM after acquisition. Once the acquisition was completed in 2018, she was promoted to Partner in the IBM organization and continued to grow the team to 120 people.

Photo provided by Vera Loftis

Vera describes her relationship with Salesforce as ‘interesting’ because she started so young. She grew in her career through the ecosystem and recently found herself at a fork in the road. She wondered if she truly loved Salesforce - or - if she loved it because it’s all she’d ever known. Haven’t we all been at that crossroads at one point or another?

As Vera contemplated her next career move after Bluewolf, Salesforce remained a big question on the table. It took some soul searching to realize that she did, in fact, want to continue her career in the ecosystem.

“I surprised myself by realizing I love Salesforce and why I love it: I believe in the product, in the pace it moves, and in the ecosystem.”

This was the defining point in her career.

A proud moment . . .

When I asked Vera what one of her proudest moments in the ecosystem has been, she remarked that it's the genuine difference you can make with a customer, whether they’re big or small. Salesforce can change business for anyone and she loves to see the way a customer’s face lights up when she makes even the simplest of adjustments.

Photo provided by Vera Loftis

"Salesforce has an incredible way of enacting change - both big and small. From being able to instantly move a field on a page layout to create a better user experience to completely transforming a business process. Its impact potential is limitless."

She also referred to herself as a page layout geek because she loves to analyze page layouts and make them more user-friendly. Me too, Vera. Me, too!

Her why and the pandemic-forced reflection . . . .

Vera says the biggest changes and lessons learned occurred during the COVID19 lockdown. It was the first time in her career where she paused and started to ask, "Why am I doing this? What does it mean? Am I fulfilled?"

Photo provided by Vera Loftis

She realized that she had been living on autopilot; going through meetings, days, weeks . . .

Vera likened it to being on a treadmill and running so fast that a person doesn’t often reflect, pause, or stop to figure out if it’s worth it. She was asking herself if she was truly happy.

“The sudden change in my environment forced the reflection and changed the outlook of my career,” she said. She wanted projects to mean more from a business standpoint and for the 9-5 workday to have a greater purpose by giving back.