Updated: Mar 19
The bloomly team is proud to debut our limited blog series highlighting phenomenal women in the Salesforce ecosystem to commemorate International Women’s Day and Women's History Month. Each woman we will highlight represents a key bloomly value and we are proud to know these leaders who not only share our values but embody them in everyday life.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Aniqa Tariq, Vice President of Global New Markets, at Bluewolf, an IBM Company. The #choosetochallenge movement can be interpreted in many different ways; however, it collectively boils down to the woman’s choice - and what she challenges. Since meeting her a few years ago, I’ve carried a deep appreciation for Aniqa. That appreciation grew tenfold when I heard her story of resilience - and how she's challenged the status quo by knocking down doors and commanding that her voice be heard from customer to stakeholder. From the start of her career to today, she has challenged and redefined expectations with resilience and grace.
In the beginning . . .
Aniqa was introduced to Salesforce when she was hired to completely digitize and rebrand the marketing data and strategy for Tipper Tie, a manufacturing company primarily focused on the meat and poultry industries. As a data-driven marketer, this role was the perfect challenge for her. Aniqa created a business case to propose the new CRM and presented that to the board of directors - it was approved! Guess which CRM that was? You guessed it: Salesforce.
Although Aniqa didn’t possess an IT background - she was a marketer through and through - she was able to successfully implement Salesforce within her company. She knew enough about data collection to identify pain points from the old CRM system and to make sure that these issues were resolved with Salesforce. She sat in and listened to the VP of Sales and Customer Service’s meetings to get a better understanding of the type of relationships she would need to nurture to make this work.
Aniqa “suited and booted up” by joining male representatives who worked onsite at the meat manufacturing factories. She wanted to understand how Salesforce works offline and to do that, she had to be onsite and get her hands dirty. That’s why Aniqa was chosen instead of a normal IT team; she was hired to not only revise marketing and data but to build strong customer relationships.
“I was consulting without knowing I was consulting,” she recalled.
The theme for the Salesforce launch was StarWars. Her supervisor told her, "Aniqa - the only way I will say yes is if you get the biggest disruptor and nay-sayer to be an advocate for you.” This was not a tech industry, but a manufacturing industry where many of the employees used the manual process of pen to paper instead of computers to complete their work. There was doubt that these employees would be willing to make the change by integrating Salesforce CRM into their daily duties. Instead of allowing this challenge to bring her down, Aniqa was resilient and presented her Salesforce pitch to the Board of Directors. The response she received was hard-earned and well-fought for:
“Can you take this global?”
Arriving in Switzerland, 2009
Her journey continues . . .
Ultimately, that's how she was introduced to Bluewolf. Aniqa was asked to run a global team in the United States, Germany, Brazil and Switzerland. She didn’t speak German and she needed help to bridge the language gap when training employees. She was then introduced to a Bluewolf employee who could help her succeed in her training predicament.
In 2009-2010, Aniqa began receiving phone calls from other professionals who coveted her Salesforce experience. At Dreamforce, she saw the Bluewolf banner and made the switch from being client-facing, to implementing a global CRM system, to taking the leap to consulting at Bluewolf. She met with Eric Berridge, former CEO of Bluewolf, and after 45 minutes, her interview was complete.
In lieu of waiting, Aniqa looked him in the eye and asked, “Do I have the job or not?”
Of course, she had earned the role and was elated. She may not have expected it then, but she would create a lasting impression on this well-known Salesforce consulting company.
Elevator moments . . .
When she was a young girl, her dream was to go to New York, see the city, and eventually work there. Little did that young girl know - she would be living her dream down to the visualization - she was on top of the city.
View from the 21st floor
At the time, Bluewolf’s office was on 5th avenue. One of Aniqa’s proudest moments is what she refers to as the elevator moment - she would ride the elevator to the 21st floor of the building and overlook New York City. At the end of each day, whether it was good or bad, she reflected on the view of the city and would think to herself,
“I did this.”
Another elevator moment, which reveals her compassion and nurturing sense, is her reflection when she's built a team or business. Aniqa accepted the job that most people would not - to move across the world to work in Australia. Not only did she leave her family and home behind, but she also did so with grace and tenacity. Aniqa successfully built a team from 17-18 people to over 100 people buzzing around the office. Often, she would take moments to reflect on her team, asking herself these seemingly simple but important questions:
Are they smiling, interacting, having fun?
Are they working on incredible projects?
Women from the Bluewolf Sydney team
Aniqa’s grit and determination had overseen her journeys across the world and landed her in Australia, where she grew a team that caused her to beam with pride at the end of each day.
That is her why.
She strives to inspire, mentor, and help people grow in both professional and personal journeys. Aniqa is present for people. Awareness, regard, and respect are a few of the attributes that she finds most important for helping people.
Aniqa speaking at a Bluewolf event on Becoming an Authentic Leader
Aniqa has helped many women on their journey in the Salesforce ecosystem. Her path to Salesforce was truly unique - she began as a marketer who found herself hired into the male-dominant food manufacturing equipment industry and eventually, running a global team.
Aniqa’s advice . . .
Her advice is to be results-oriented and to demand equal footing by learning how to speak in the business love language: the language of results. She emphasized that understanding and tracking KPIs are pertinent to success. Aniqa mentioned that there were situations in the past where she was seen as a female who couldn’t get the job done.
Perspectives changed with her being results-driven.
“Lead with results and communicate that way,” she encourages.
Another gold nugget of advice is that she has noticed a specialization trend in the Salesforce ecosystem in the last 3-5 years. The ecosystem has grown so large that specialization is necessary. She emphasized the importance of this, especially from a product perspective.
“Having a specialty makes you a more visible asset.”
As a woman, she says there will be times where not everyone cheers for you. “You have to be grounded and confident in what you’re doing. Sometimes, you won't have a mentor or an incredible boss, but you have to do this for yourself. Know what you’re capable of and what you truly want by knowing and trusting yourself. Be bold. Be brave.”
Her inspiration . . .
Aniqa looks to a Rolodex of women who inspire her daily; from Ruth Bader Ginsburg to Madam C. J. Walker; to a woman whom she met working a separate day job outside of nursing. “I take a little bit from everyone and that inspires me every day.”
Perhaps the most inspiring woman in her life was her “Auntie” Malik, better known as Dr. Sarwat Malik, who was a co-founder of the Global Partnership for Women and Girls. She was born in Pakistan and immigrated to America. She befriended Aniqa when they met in Rochester and she would regale Aniqa with the events of her past; her struggles of acceptance as a female in a male-dominated industry (medicine) in the 70s, and her fight to be accepted as a Pakistani female immigrant.
“In the United States, I have found the freedom to speak up for my rights and the rights of others without any fear of repercussions. I’d like to see every woman empowered in a way that she feels that she has the dignity, respect, human rights, and desire to do something positive in the world.”
The bloomly team is proud to know Aniqa and to support International Women’s Day. Aniqa possesses one of the values we hold dearest: resilience. Thank you, Aniqa, for paving the way, shaping the future, and barreling through a male-dominated industry to show young female professionals what's possible.
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