This week on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we’ve got Taisha Inesti, Business Manager at AHRC New York City and PepUp Tech alum. We come to you live from a bar in the NYC Finacial District to talk about her journey into the Salesforce ecosystem who is just getting started.
Join us as we talk about how she became a liaison between the tech and people parts of her organization, her experience in PepUp Tech, and how she’s approaching breaking into a Salesforce career.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Taisha Inesti.
Working to make a difference.
Taisha, who goes by Tai, originally wanted to be a lawyer. However, like most of our guests on the pod, life happened and she ended up on a different road that led her to tech. For Tai, it was becoming a single mother at nineteen. She needed to get to work to support her family, so she started at a nonprofit that provides behavioral health services to patients with disabilities. First, she provided direct care, eventually moving into admin and eventually became the Systems Manager. “That’s when my love for systems and technology came into play,” she says.
At her agency, Tai is trying to overhaul the systems that are being used, but it’s tough to get momentum, especially when critical day-to-day operations depend upon them. “They’re not using enterprise systems, they’re not even electronic medical records,” she says, “we’re recording on the backend to basically make a bill.” Tai is in charge of making sure they have clean data to make sure everything’s running smoothly, and that they can satisfy their reporting requirements.
Translating from IT gruff talk to human.
As Tai got more involved in the data side of her nonprofit, she started working with the IT department, which at first fulfilled the stereotype of being a bit rough around the edges. She was a fast study and wasn’t afraid to speak up when trainings had the wrong tone. People took notice, and so she was able to pick up some coding. Eventually, they had a special position created specifically for her to help IT with training.
“A lot of people, when they’re learning, they’re learning without understanding why things happen the way they happen,” Tai says, “but when you understand the way something works it’s a lot easier for you to be able to help another person understand that too.” She had a talent for understanding the Why behind a thing, and communicating that clearly to the actual people who needed to execute that task.
When Salesforce entered the picture (Selina Suarez strikes again).
During this time, Tai also went back and finished her degree in Public Affairs and Legal Studies. She got to design her own major, so she focused on IT, and project management, supplementing that with Khan Academy courses in Java and more to feed her curiosity. “I just wanted to keep learning, and I wish I had heard about Salesforce back then because I would have been a Trailhead master,” she says.
So how did Tai get to Salesforce? A childhood friend of 25 years who happens to be Selina Suarez. As Selina was learning Salesforce and getting more involved, she kept telling Tai to come along for the ride. When Selina started PepUp Tech, naturally, Tai got involved. She went to her first Dreamforce this year, and the experience was amazing. “I cried so many times, I was overwhelmed by the love and community that exists within the Salesforce ecosystem,” she says.
Tai was particularly moved by Marc Benioff’s discussion of “inclusive capitalism,” the idea that business can help make social change real and achievable. “I think that Salesforce is breaking generational curses, that it’s making the world a better place,” she says. “People who would have been overlooked—they’re in the ecosystem and they’re building and they’re thriving,” she says.
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Full Show Transcript
Gillian Bruce: Welcome to the Salesforce Admins Podcast where we talk about product, community and careers to help you become a more awesome Salesforce admin. I’m Gillian Bruce and today listeners, we have another very special PepUp Tech story to share with you. This story is from Taisha Inesti or Tai as she goes by. Tai is an aspiring Salesforce admin. She has discovered Salesforce through PepUp Tech and has felt incredibly excited about the opportunity of really working in the Salesforce ecosystem. Her current company does not use Salesforce, but she is so ready to make that transition.
Gillian Bruce: I wanted to get her story on the podcast to share with you because she’s got some really amazing stories to share about how she realized she had a knack for technological, her nontraditional route to technology, and how she realized that she’s got all these amazing skillsets and is perfectly poised to truly become an awesome admin. Oh yeah. If you’re an employer looking to hire an awesome admin, check Tai out. She’s got an amazing skillset to offer the right opportunity. I will apologize in advance. You’ll hear a little bit of background noise. I interviewed Tai while I was in New York City for the world tour back in December, and the only semi quiet spot we could find happen to be in a bar just next door to where she works.
Gillian Bruce: It’s not too loud, but you will hear a little bit of background noise, but it’s a really great interview and I hope you enjoy it. Without further ado, please welcome Tai to the podcast. Tai, welcome to the podcast.
Tai Inesti: Hi, Gillian. Thank you for having me.
Gillian Bruce: Actually you’re having me. I came and met you down by your work. You’re in New York City.
Tai Inesti: This is true.
Gillian Bruce: What area of town are we in?
Tai Inesti: We’re in the financial district, so that’s like Wall Street area.
Gillian Bruce: Right. Another area of New York that I’ve never been to before, so thank you for broadening my horizons.
Tai Inesti: You’re welcome.
Gillian Bruce: We’ve been talking a little bit about your story and some of the incredible things you’ve done. I wanted to get you on the podcast to talk a little bit more about that to help kind of inspire some other folks who may have some similarities that they realize to where you’re at and what you’re doing. One of the questions I like to ask to kind of kick off the podcast and help introduce the guest is ask you, Tai, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Tai Inesti: I wanted to be a lawyer.
Gillian Bruce: A lawyer? Why a lawyer?
Tai Inesti: I do. I used to watch these court TV shows. I was like five, six year old watching these court TV shows and my grandmother used to laugh at me. Call me this little old lady. I just was fascinated by the courtroom and the law. I’ve always got it. I don’t know. I used to be very … What they would say is I would argue you down if I had a point and I wanted to make it, you were going to know about it. I thought that that would be a great profession for me.
Gillian Bruce: Nice. Nice. You’re a fan of arguing people down. I thought that’s good. It’s a good life skill to have, not to be afraid to have a viewpoint and go for it and prove. You have siblings? Did you get to do that a lot with them?
Tai Inesti: I do. I’m the eldest and I have two younger brothers. Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Gillian Bruce: You had to hold your own. That’s good.
Tai Inesti: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. You wanted to be a lawyer.
Tai Inesti: Yeah.
Gillian Bruce: But now you are a business manager. Is that correct?
Tai Inesti: Yes. Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. Tell me a little bit about that path. How did you go from wanting to be a lawyer to kind of where you are now? You’ve done a lot in your life. Give us the little overview.
Tai Inesti: Well, it was life and the children, you know? I got scared when I had my son. I had my son at 17. My son, by the way, is a sergeant in the U.S. Marines and he is overseas right now in West Africa.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you to your son for his service.
Tai Inesti: Thank you. It was him really. I thought that a firm was going to drive me out and chew me … Spit me up and chew me out. I didn’t have that type of support as a single mother and a teen mother. I knew that that was like probably not the best option for me. I just started working direct care and then I went from direct care into admin and then I started doing what they call a systems manager. That’s when my love for systems and basically technology came into play.
Gillian Bruce: You said direct care. Talk to me a little bit about what that is. What industry is it that you’re in?
Tai Inesti: I’m right now in a nonprofit sector. We provide behavioral health services to people with developmental disabilities of all spectrums. My department is the adult day services department. I am responsible for that type of population. Direct care means directly working with them, teaching them hand on hand any life skills and budgeting. All types of things that we were doing with them, but it was basically hand to hand direct contact with them. That’s why they call it direct care.
Gillian Bruce: I mean you must have felt like you were definitely like helping people and making a big impact.
Tai Inesti: Oh, yes. I fell in love with the agency and its mission. I was actually in school for paralegal services. I did try to pursue somewhat in the law realm, but I fell in love with the agency’s mission because it was a beautiful place to work for. Helping people is what I’m passionate about.
Gillian Bruce: I love that. Okay. Well, this is good. This is one of those qualities I think that makes an amazing Salesforce admin. Put that in the file cabinet right there. You’re managing systems. You talk about how you fell in love with systems. Tell me a little bit more about that.
Tai Inesti: The systems that they’re using at this agency, they are not even enterprise systems. They’re not even electronical medical records. Basically what we’re doing is we’re coding on the backend for a lot of things to make basically what derives a bill. We have service access stations and then we have an attendance factor. That’s basically one of the systems that we’re doing. Of course, we need clean data to run it and make sure everything is good for our reporting and so on and so forth. That’s kind of what we’re using.
Gillian Bruce: What kind of has sparked your interest when you talk about systems and data? I mean I see you light up a little bit when you talked about cleaning data. Talk to me a little bit more about that because again like you kind of … I mean you started doing the direct care and then you got involved in kind of the more systems end of things. Tell me a little bit about what drove that interest for you.
Tai Inesti: Well, I work with what people think as traditional IT people and that would be like an old mean white guy who does not want to talk to you at all and has zero patience. I worked with a bunch of them. What happened was when they were … They were responsible for training at the time and they were so mean to everybody and they were just … I got it. I got the things that they were saying pretty quickly. They actually listened to me. They weren’t so mean to me. I kind of had tough skin so I could kind of deal with it when they were.
Gillian Bruce: Again, the arguing down ability, right?
Tai Inesti: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. When they were like snappy or being just not so patient and nice, I will kind of speak up and then they wanted to work with just me. What happened is I kind of became like an IT liaison. I got them to show me little things here and there, little coding, little stuff on Java. I just understood them. I understood their language and I was able to help my other admins. That’s how that started and then they created a whole position for me behind that. I was responsible for training them and also making the training manuals because IT just didn’t want to be bothered. They just want to be working in the backend, not talking to people, looking at the screen, making things work.
Gillian Bruce: Right. Right. You say you got it pretty quickly. What was it? Did it just make sense to you like the idea of technology, managing different processes? How were you able to get these concepts pretty quickly?
Tai Inesti: It was basic. For me, they would show us, of course, and I would ask questions. I was like why and why does it … If we’re clicking here, what would make this go there? What happened was I was putting … I was basically establishing processes that I didn’t know yet. It kind of was just easier for me to grasp when I understood why something did what it did. A lot of people when they’re learning, what happens is they’re just learning it without understanding why things happen the way they happen. If you learn that way, yeah, you can do a mundane … You can just program yourself to do a task, right? It becomes like you know how you can brush your teeth with your eyes closed.
Tai Inesti: That’s how you would … If you’re not understanding the way something works. When you understand the way something works, it’s just a lot easier for you to be able to help another person understand how it works.
Gillian Bruce: Well, yeah, and then you’ve got to explain it to the other person, so it even derives further understanding for you.
Tai Inesti: Right. Right. Right. Right.
Gillian Bruce: It’s always better to know the why behind the thing.
Tai Inesti: Yes. Yes.
Gillian Bruce: I have to do the thing. Okay.
Tai Inesti: Right. Some people are programmed like that. They do learn that way and it’s just mundane to them and they’ll keep on doing it. For me, that didn’t work. Especially I didn’t want to get yelled at. You know?
Gillian Bruce: That’s a good motivation.
Tai Inesti: Right.
Gillian Bruce: That’s a good motivation. Okay. You kind of understood this concept. You became the liaison between basically the tech side, IT side and the actual people who are doing the work. You were already kind of like this analyst role and a better enablement with the training to creating all the training documentation.
Tai Inesti: Yes.
Gillian Bruce: Did you start dabbling further into learning more technology? What then happened for you?
Tai Inesti: First off, I decided to go back to school and pursue my degree. I actually did get it. I did my best to design some public affairs and legal studies to kind of keep that law thing there.
Gillian Bruce: It’s still there.
Tai Inesti: It’s still there. What happened was doing that, I actually was able to design my degree. I did a lot of IT courses and project management courses that kind of helped me to … On a higher learning, it kind of helped me to understand hey, these things are pretty amazing. Let me just keep looking into them. I would go on Khan Academy, take little free courses there. Learn the basic coding of Java. Not because I had to, because I just wanted to. I wanted the knowledge. I just wanted to keep learning. I wish I knew about Salesforce back then because I would have been a Trailhead master, you know? Khan Academy helped me out a lot.
Gillian Bruce: That’s great. I love this curiosity that you had. You just wanted to learn. You wanted to tinker. You wanted to try stuff. I think it’s an amazing quality. Again, this is another one of those like core things of what makes an awesome admin, right? I’m loving this because everything that you’d exposed to me I’m like, “Oh, that’s another quality.” You’ve got the curiosity. You like to help people. You like being the in between between the technology and the business. I mean this is like the perfect admin resume you got.
Tai Inesti: Gillian’s eyes just light up when she talks about these things. She’s just like a little angel. I swear. I have to tell you. Her enthusiasm just seeps everywhere.
Gillian Bruce: Hey, I feed off of you. This is where it happens. I’m just reflecting it back onto you. All right. Tell me about maybe where you’re at now. You’ve tinkered a little bit. You’ve been the liaison between IT and the business. You are now in a business role, business management role, but you’ve also now been exposed to the Salesforce ecosystem. Tell me about how you first learned about Salesforce.
Tai Inesti: Selina Suarez is one of my childhood best friends. We have remained friends for over 25 years. What happened was Selina started getting heavily into the tech business. She started going to these Women in Tech groups that she would take me to. She had just built her first app with Salesforce, and she was actually starting to learn it and go around it. She told me that this community’s amazing. She said, “You have to see this.” She kept telling me how undervalued I was at my place and how I needed to learn Salesforce, but they weren’t doing Salesforce. Guess what Selina did?
Tai Inesti: Selina went and paved the way and started PepUp Tech because she wanted to teach people like me Salesforce skills where they’re able to actually land a decent role. You know? That’s how I was introduced to Salesforce. I’m a PepUp Tech alumni. I’m proud to say that I did my first Dreamforce in 2018.
Gillian Bruce: Yeah.
Tai Inesti: Oh my goodness. It was the most amazing experience. I cried so many times. I was emotional. I was overwhelmed by the love and the community that exist within the Salesforce ecosystem.
Gillian Bruce: There’s obviously an outpouring of love, an amazing spirit of Ohana, spirit of family. Tell me a little bit more about that Dreamforce experience because I saw your eyes light up a little bit during that. Tell me about kind of coming into this crazy Salesforce world and especially Dreamforce. I mean it’s a lot. Was there like a moment for you that really stood out?
Tai Inesti: There were many. PepUp Tech was featured at Marc’s main keynote, which was humbling and very emotional for me because the things that Selina, Shonnah, Rebe and Stephanie, the experiences that they bring, they bring this to life. These are all of our stories rolled up in one that they’re trying to get this across. The welcome mat that Salesforce has given us was amazing. They threw us a party. They gave us a life coach teaching us soft skills. Joanna Bloor. Oh my goodness. She’s amazing. I’ve never met anyone like her. Just to be featured at Marc’s main keynote was just it. I seen my face on the big screen and I was just like in tears. What my aha moment was at Benioff’s keynote. It was at Benioff’s keynote.
Tai Inesti: It was when he was discussing inclusive capitalism, which I found to be a paradox. I was just like what? Not when he said it. If I would have thought of this concept before I’ve been to Dreamforce or before I’ve read into the cloud, I would have thought that these people were insane, but I see where he’s going with this. It’s true. Selina and the founders are living proof that this inclusive capitalism, it’s not a cuckoo’s dream. It’s real. It’s real and it’s there. It’s happening. It’s happening to really beautiful people who deserve it, who are hardworking and who have really struggled their life that weren’t afforded the basic opportunities that other people have.
Tai Inesti: Because of this, because of Salesforce, I think that Salesforce is breaking generational curses. I think that Salesforce will in general make the world a better place. You’re stemming dreams and just genius creative. People who would have been overlooked. They’re in this ecosystem and they’re building and they’re thriving there. They are bringing other people into this community and they’re making it so diverse that it’s crazy. I’ve never seen his. You have lawyers, doctors, people who were in the medical profession who are now freaking developers or admin. You have actors. I mean it’s just insane. I’ve never seen this before. I’m really, really excited to become a part of this community.
Gillian Bruce: That just gave me so many chills. I love the way you describe that.
Tai Inesti: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: The idea of inclusive capitalism is one of those radical Benioff things that he says. The business of business is to make the world a better place. The way that you pointed that out actually really helped me kind of really get it. I think that idea of hey, everyone should be a part of this and making the people who are involved in building this technology and building this next new world in the fourth Industrial Revolution brings diverse ideas too. I mean one of the things that actually you talk to me about before we started recording the podcast is even though your current organization doesn’t use Salesforce, you see so many opportunities.
Tai Inesti: Oh yeah.
Gillian Bruce: You’re like, “I know exactly the thing I would build that nobody else has built.”
Tai Inesti: Exactly. I may just make Salesforce a ton of money. I’m telling you.
Gillian Bruce: There you go. We’re watching you. Hurry up. Well, make yourself some in the process.
Tai Inesti: Yes. Yes. Yes, of course. That’s inclusive capitalism.
Gillian Bruce: I love it. Actually touching on that, what’s next for you? You’re kind of in this thought now where you’ve been exposed to Salesforce. You see this amazing technology and you’re kind of in a situation now with your current company, your current organization, that they aren’t quite on the bandwagon yet.
Tai Inesti: Yeah. I think I may have to come back to them when I’m like Salesforce … When I get my golden hoodie and just make this app and be like, “Look, you need this.” I’m in a very strange spot in my life right now because I have worked and loved this organization for the past 20 years of my life.
Gillian Bruce: Wow.
Tai Inesti: I’ve raised by children here. I had my first baby shower working at this place. But at the same time, I know that I’m underpaid. Listen, I love the place and the people are beautiful, but you know what? It’s time to make the next phase, to go into the phase of my life. I’m definitely going to do that with Salesforce. One thing I can say is that Salesforce rings bells and people are definitely hitting my profile up. I’ve got an interview tomorrow. Wish me luck.
Gillian Bruce: Very exciting. We’re wishing you all the luck.
Tai Inesti: Very soon I will be transitioning into my Salesforce world. I’m telling you, I couldn’t be more happier. I’m very, very excited about it. I’m really scared, but I think that this is the way. Actually I’m pretty certain it is the way.
Gillian Bruce: Just keep an ear out because now you’re on the podcast and we’ve just talked about all the amazing skills that makes you perfect to be hired in the Salesforce role. Watch out. The offers are going to start pinging you and coming in.
Tai Inesti: Bring them in, everybody. Tai is score higher.
Gillian Bruce: Tai, I so appreciate everything that you’ve shared with us. Everything, your story, your inspiration. I mean gosh, it was so cool to hear all of these different moments that came really clear to you in your own personal journey about what matters to you and what motivates you. I am so excited for the next chapter.
Tai Inesti: Thank you, Gillian. Me too. It was just amazing connecting with you and just meeting you. Just like a breath of fresh air. Thank you for this connection. Thank you for coming and meeting me and being willing and open to listen to my story. I appreciate you.
Gillian Bruce: Oh, absolutely. Oh, my pleasure. Well, okay. Before I let you go, we can’t let you go without doing a lightning round question.
Tai Inesti: Okay. I’m ready.
Gillian Bruce: Lightning round is there’s no right or wrong answer. First thing that comes to mind. You ready?
Tai Inesti: Okay.
Gillian Bruce: Okay. Since we’re in New York City, we’re doing a New York City theme lightning round question. What is one thing in New York that everybody should do that’s not the obvious touristy thing?
Tai Inesti: That’s not the obvious touristy thing? Oh, man. Honestly, I don’t … I would always say, which I told you earlier, is to walk the Brooklyn Bridge. A lot of people may think it’s touristy. It’s not. I do it all the time. Each and every time that I do it, I’m amazed. It’s so beautiful. Walk in the Brooklyn Bridge from Manhattan, which is not far from here, the entrance. Getting into Brooklyn, you’ll see just … First of all, you’ll take the most amazing pictures ever. The air up there is beautiful believe it or not in New York. You’ll see all different walks of life on this bridge. You’ll see beautiful artwork and things that people are doing. Yes, there are tourists that visit, but it’s not as touristy as it sounds.
Gillian Bruce: Awesome. I love it. That’s a great tip. I still haven’t done it. It’s on my list now.
Tai Inesti: Yeah. Check it out. It’s really cool. I do it all the time any chance I get.
Gillian Bruce: That’s great. Well, Tai, thank you so much for chatting with us. Thank you for being you and being an inspiration.
Tai Inesti: Thank you.
Gillian Bruce: Keep in touch and let us know what happens next for you.
Tai Inesti: I will, Gillian. Thank you for having me. Enjoy your stay in New York.
Gillian Bruce: I had an amazing time chatting with Tai. Really enjoyed getting to know her while I was in New York a few months ago and learning more about her story. I really actually thought it was very special to talk to an aspiring Salesforce admin. Someone who has already discovered that she had a love for systems, how she figured out how to connect with tough male system managers. I thought that was a very good story and something to keep in mind. Probably had something to do with her passion and kind of interest in becoming a lawyer and maybe learning about communicating and arguing in specific ways. That really helped her become kind of the liaison between the technology and the people at her organization.
Gillian Bruce: Then she started seeking out tech skills on her own to learn more online and found Salesforce as many of our PepUp Tech alumni do through Selina Suarez, one of the founders of PepUp Tech. PepUp Tech really exposed her to Salesforce, and she has been so excited about how she sees Salesforce is empowering other people to get into tech. Really this idea of inclusive capitalism that I think is so pervasive and so core to what it means to be part of the Salesforce Ohana or Salesforce ecosystem. Now, although her current company isn’t using Salesforce quite yet, she is definitely set on her future career of being a Salesforce admin. She’s focusing on this next phase to help prepare her career.
Gillian Bruce: Like I said in the beginning, if you’re looking to hire an amazing Salesforce admin, Tai has got all of the amazing skills that’s needed. She is ready to go. Please reach out to her. Thank you so much for listening to the episode today. I hope you got something great out of it. If you want to learn a little bit more about how you can build your career in the Salesforce ecosystem, great news. We have Trailhead for that. I’ll put the link in the show notes. We’ve got a whole trail of how to cultivate your Salesforce career. I want to remind you to please share this episode especially if you’ve got friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues who are thinking about making a transition into another career choice.
Gillian Bruce: I think Tai’s story is pretty inspiring because it talks to anyone who maybe finds themself in a technology role or a pseudo technology role and is ready for that next step. Make sure you share the podcast. Make sure you subscribe to the podcast so you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment it is released. You can find us on Twitter @salesforceadmns, no I. Our guest today was Tai Inesti. You can find her on Twitter @tai_inesti. As always, you can find myself @gilliankbruce. If you want to learn more about becoming an awesome admin, be sure to go to admin.salesforce.com where you can find out blogs, webinars, events and, yes, even more podcasts to help you become a more awesome admin.
Gillian Bruce: Thank you again so much for listening to this episode and we’ll catch you next time in the cloud.