Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast we’re joined by Jimmy Hua, a Lead Member of Technical Staff in Software Engineering at Salesforce, as well as the founder of Asiapacforce.

Join us as we talk about how Jimmy’s been able to build an app on the Salesforce platform to help make equality a reality, using what’s already there to make something new.

You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Jimmy Hua.

From computer science to sales.

The first thing you need to know is that Gillian and Jimmy go way back, with 15 combined years at Salesforce between them. “When I was a kid I was like, ‘I think one day everything’s going to be computerized,’” Jimmy says, and that was what lead him to software engineering.

Growing up, Jimmy wanted to be a lawyer until he realized that an important part of the job was to argue. “It’s funny though because, as a software engineer, part of my job is to argue about what’s the right thing to do for customers,” he says. For Jimmy, that’s OK because it’s for the right reasons: taking care of our Ohana.

Asiapacforce and the Ohana groups.

“Asiapacforce is an Asian-interest employee resource group,” Jimmy says, “here at Salesforce, we call them Ohana groups.” Their mission is to serve their Ohana: employees, customers, and the community. They do everything from bringing in professors and ambassadors come to talk about what’s happening in Asia to serving and partnering with nonprofits in San Francisco and elsewhere.

Asiapacforce is one of several Ohana groups that we have at Salesforce. These groups work to bring equality to the employee base and the community. “We want to always keep in mind that everything that we’re trying to do is actually Equality for All,” Jimmy says.

Hosting events all over the world.

At Salesforce they have Champion Months, which means every month is dedicated to a different Ohana group, “which lets us emphasize and magnify what’s going on within their community for the rest of our company. That way we can all participate and be allies,” Jimmy says. For Asian Pacific American (APA) Heritage Month in May they threw 8 events in San Francisco, and over 20 internationally across the 14 hubs they have for Asiapacforce spread throughout the globe.

Managing that many events made keeping track of the budgets and planning pretty difficult. “I was sitting there and saying to myself, ‘I think there’s a software out there that could help us do this…’ and then I realized I work on the platform every day,” Jimmy says.

Using what’s already there to make something new.

“As an engineer what I normally do is jump in and try to do something,” Jimmy says, “but I have to remember that this is something that someone will have to use, so I took a step back and asked myself what my number one pain point is.” What he settled on was visibility of events— with thousands of emails he had no idea what was happening on any particular day.

From there, Jimmy started thinking about all the ways that coordinating events can get tricky. You have to manage money, coordinate schedules, rooms, approvals, and even things like marketing materials and communications.

“One of the biggest things I try to do is to not reinvent the wheel— we want to use other people’s work to build even more things,” he says. Once he looked at his needs, he realized that managing an event works a lot like campaigns. He built out the Salesforce Instance into something called Ohana Network. One of the other Ohana groups was complaining about the same challenges Asiapacforce faced, and even the Office of Equality was doing budgeting with spreadsheets, so Jimmy started adapting it to solve those problems.

A platform for Equality.

Today, they’re working on adding more metrics and reporting to Ohana Network to measure impact and see what’s working. “As you continue to grow,” Jimmy says, “you add more stuff to the platform.” Once you’ve built the tool, you can be agile and adapt it to meet your growing needs.

Next up, Jimmy is working with the Office of Equality and a coalition of employees from across the company to create the Ohana Tech Council to innovate around the company for equality. They’re working on custom apps like Ohana Market, which connects people trying to leverage their skills to push equality forward. “The big thing is figuring out how to innovate on top of a platform that does a lot of the work for you,” Jimmy says.

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