Today on the Salesforce Admins Podcast, we talk to Eric Schubert, CRM Administrator at First American Title, who is on his way towards becoming an architect. We talk about how he realized that he already had a lot of the skills he needed, and how he’s approaching learning everything else.

Join us as we talk about his journey towards becoming a Certified Technical Architect as an admin.

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

Learning by doing it yourself.

Eric is a Salesforce Platform Administrator, supporting around four hundred users on the platform on both Sales Cloud and Service Cloud. “Before I got into the Salesforce world, I was at an organization that did not want to get a CRM product off the shelf,” he says, “they were building a poor man’s CRM.” Eric’s job was to be the intermediary between the business and the developers, figuring what the business requirements were and then relaying that to the team. He was also the go-to person for training.

While it was certainly educational, it was hard to do the DIY thing and also deliver actually impactful business innovations, so when Eric was offered a job as a Salesforce admin he jumped at the opportunity. He went to a Salesforce.com training class, this was in the days before Trailhead. “This is how training went: you leave the class, you think you know everything,” but really, “you were kind of thrown into the fire.”

How Eric was able to see himself as a CTA.

Right now, Eric is pursuing becoming a Technical Architect. “When I first got involved with Salesforce, they didn’t even have certification exams,” he says. However, at one organization he worked for “there were folks onboard there who, in title, had ‘Architect’ in their title but I felt like the things they were doing like data modeling or solutioning were things I’d been doing for just as long or longer.” That made him take a closer look at the Architect exams, and so far he’s passed eleven certifications.

It’s a major realization that more admins need to hear. You’re already probably doing things on the platform that overlap with what an architect does, and even more importantly, you’re probably thinking like an architect. When you’re solving a business need for your organization, “you have to think about using all the advantages Salesforce gives you out of the box,” Eric says, “or think about if you want to use a bunch of custom objects.” The approach of an architect is just about scaling up that thinking to a broader perspective.

Climbing the certification pyramid.

As far as how Eric is approaching climbing the CTA pyramid, there’s definitely some things on the development side that are a challenge. “I can look at code and get a general gist of what’s going on and what’s happening, but I’m certainly not a developer per-se,” he says about prepping for the Platform Developer I exam. “But being able to pass that exam gave me a little more confidence that I can be able to pass the Systems Architect side of the pyramid with a little more time and study.”

“It’s definitely not easy and I definitely worked hard at it,” Eric says, “but even if you’re not necessarily a developer, there are tons of resources out there right now and practice exams that are available to help.”

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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. Today on the podcast, we’re going to talk about something pretty exciting admins, we’re going to talk about your possible path becoming an architect. A certified technical architect is a very highly coveted spot in the Salesforce ecosystem. And admins, you’ll be surprised. In fact you’ll find that there’s a lot of things that you’re already doing as an admin that make it very easy to transfer into that architect skill set. We’re going to have a guest on today, Eric Schubert, who is on his way to being an architect. He’s currently an admin, and he saw so things that made him really think about pursuing this path to CTA. So I wanted to get him on the podcast to help inspire you and maybe have you think a little bit differently about your career path. Without further ado, lets please welcome Eric to the podcast.

Gillian Bruce: Eric, Welcome to the podcast.

Eric Schubert: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

Gillian Bruce: Well, I’m very happy to have you on the podcast, and excited to talk to you a little bit. And I wanted to start to introduce you to our guest with the same question I ask all of the new guests on the pod. Eric, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Eric Schubert: That’s a loaded question there. So, what did I want to be when I grew up? Definitely not a Salesforce administrator. That was not really around when I graduated college but wanted to be … My degree was in Information Systems and Marketing, and I saw myself as probably swimming in the analyst area, being able to help in marketing, to identify trends and being able to help them, you know sell products better, quicker, faster.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. So I imagine there’s two year old Eric saying that he wants to work in marketing analytics realm. Is that how that worked?

Eric Schubert: That sounds about right.

Gillian Bruce: That’s great. Well I love that you had a clear vision so early on. That’s fantastic.

Eric Schubert: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: So tell me a little bit about what you do now.

Eric Schubert: As of today, doing Salesforce.com administration. I support approximately 400 users on the platform. We’re using Sales Cloud as well as Service Cloud. Anything that kind of comes up whether it’s automation reports, dashboards. Anything to help the business out. They can come to me and we get it filled out for them on the platform.

Gillian Bruce: That’s great. So tell me a little bit about how you got to where you’re at. So, you obviously have some great Salesforce skills and you got the Salesforce Admin role which is awesome. How did you first encounter Salesforce? Tell me a little bit about how you kind of grew this career.

Eric Schubert: So, before I got into the Salesforce world. I was at an organization that did not want to get a CRM product kind of the shelf. The were kind of building like a poor man’s CRM. So I was in my role as business analyst. My job was to work with the business, figure out what the requirements were, and work with the development team to build out this application and then roll it out. Train the end users how to use the application. And as, you know new teams would have come up, make changes to that application. We had an application for creating new accounts, an application for requesting quotes from customers, things like that and nothing, but nothing off the shelf.

Eric Schubert: An opportunity came to me and they said, hey well we see that you’ve worked with end user, you’ve worked with the business, with development, we’ll give you a CRM off the shelf at Salesforce and you’ll learn it and you’ll be the administrator for it. You’ll help us build all that functionality. So I said, great, let’s go ahead and give it a shot. So my first day at that particular organization was in New York, doing Salesforce.com 201 Training. Make my way around the room, so I’d know who you are, where you’re from, and like hey Eric Schubert, and this is my first day on the job and that’s how my first week went which was learning all about Salesforce. You leave the class, you think you know everything and then you come back to work on week two, and you still obviously don’t have all the skills that you need but … and at the time, there was no Salesforce community. You didn’t have Trailhead, you didn’t have all the resources that you had available to you at the time. So you were kind of thrown into the fire and with time and you kind of picked it up and was able to to run with.

Gillian Bruce: I know one of the things that you are pursuing or kind of on the journey to right now is becoming a certified technical architect. So talk to me a little bit about how did you learn about what an architect is and how did that strike your interest?

Eric Schubert: So, when I first got involved with Salesforce, they didn’t even have like certification exams. It wasn’t even out there and available. So first three or four years, wasn’t even out there. And then when I started looking for another job at the time, they were like, hey people are looking out there and they’re mentioning, they do you have a certification or administrator certification, deliberate certification and I’m like, well I probably could do those. I never really tried. I mean, I’ve been using the platform for three, four, five year, I hope I can pass an administrator exam. So I said, hey, let me go ahead and take some of these exams and pass them and put that on a resume. So I’m look for an opportunity. I have those certifications.

Eric Schubert: And then where I was in my previous position, there were folks on board there who, in title, had architect in their title but I’m like, I feel like those same types of things they’re doing, whether it data modeling, solutioning for a new product test that we’re looking to roll out, I felt like I have been on the application for as long as that particular person or longer than that particular person and I feel like I could do that just as well as that particular could as well.

Eric Schubert: So, as those exams came out, I said, you know, I know security, i always love the challenges when someone says, hey, I can’t find … I’m trying to win over a particular account and I get into position privileges or try to edit the record and I get an error. Being able to troubleshoot those and figure out why they can’t do this or can’t do that, and I said, hey I think I can pass these exams. So, I started going through some architect exams and was successful in passing them.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome. So I love how you said that, you know, hey looking at some of the things that these architects, who had the title, looking at some of things that they were doing, you as an admin and working with the platform for a while were like hey, I can do that too. I do that. So I think that’s a really great realization and one of the things I’d live to get admins thinking about, a little bit more, is that hey as an admin, you actually think a lot like an architect a lot of the time. So, can you tell me a little bit more perhaps about some of those skills and some of those things that you believe have admins already thinking like an architect? You mentioned security. What are some other elements that you think are really similar from the admin mindset to an architect mindset.

Eric Schubert: Well I think when you’re presented with a new request from the business about hey, we want to be able to do this or run a particular new business on Salesforce so it’s thinking in your mind, okay, well we’re already have all the out of the box on the account, object, contact, opportunity case. So do I want to … does it make sense to use the existing structure? You have to think about all the advantages that Salesforce gives you right out of the box using those standard objects or do I want to go ahead and use the custom object model and if I use the custom objects might have to reinvent the wheel and do a whole bunch of things that I can kind of already get using the standard object model that’s out there. Then again, you also want to again like you said talk to security and am I better off taking one approach versus the other approach. Those are things you want to think about when you’re looking at the roles and the functionality in building a new application for your organization.

Gillian Bruce: Yeah, and so those are things that admins, especially a truly awesome admin is already thinking about as they build out Salesforce right? So, kind of taking that a very bigger level is the approach of an architect and so I really love that you saw that as a parallel and are now pursuing that as a career path because I think it’s really important to think hey, I’ve got these skills and you know maybe not coming in as a developer but coming in as an admin and saying hey, I can do this. This is something that I can attain, I think is really great. So congratulations on that and I’m excited that so far, you’ve been able to pass … how many exams have you passed? Let’s just highlight that for a second.

Eric Schubert: Right now, I’m currently 11 times certified. I’ve just recently back in the end of November, I was fortunate enough to pass the platform developer one which gave me the application architect certification. Again, which was definitely out of my comfort zone because I’m not, you know, I can look at code and get a general gist of what’s going on and what’s happening but I’m certainly not a developer per se but being able to pass that exam gave me a little bit more confidence that I was able to pass the application architect side that with time and continuous study I might be able to go ahead and now pass the system architect side of the pyramid.

Gillian Bruce: That’s awesome. Well congratulations. I have full confidence in you.

Eric Schubert: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: I think like you said, not having to know the details of every part of the code has you know, but be able to kind of look at it and understand that gist of it enabled you to pass platform dev one which is awesome because I think a lot admins look at something like the platform developer one exam and are a little intimidated but here you are living proof that hey, you can do it.

Eric Schubert: Absolutely.

Gillian Bruce: It’s pretty great.

Eric Schubert: It’s definitely not easy and I definitely worked hard at it but that’s … as you can see from the pyramid, it’s an important exam, you really kind of need that exam in order to pass either side of the pyramid for either architect side. So, even if you’re not a necessarily a developer per se, there’s a ton of resources out there now and practice exams that are available that should enable to … allow you to pass that examination.

Gillian Bruce: That’s great, and the pyramid you’re referring to are the journey to CTA pyramid, which we will absolutely share in the show notes so folks will be able to look that up and hopefully get some inspiration about what they might be able to do and stretch a little bit. So, Eric, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us today and I’m super excited about your journey to becoming a CTA and congratulations on already getting through a huge chunk of the program and getting that first architect title.

Eric Schubert: Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: But I have to ask you some lightning round questions before I let you go on the podcast.

Eric Schubert: All right. Let’s do it.

Gillian Bruce: All right. So we got three questions. The first lightning round question is a this or that question. So, this question is: french fries or salad?

Eric Schubert: Definitely french fries guy. Salad is … if the wife forces me to do it then I’ll take salad but definitely french fries.

Gillian Bruce: What do you put on your french fries? Do you have a particular condiment that is your go to?

Eric Schubert: Ketchup. For sure, ketchup.

Gillian Bruce: You’re a ketchup guy.

Eric Schubert: Oh yeah.

Gillian Bruce: Okay. Got it. Next question is a would you rather question.

Eric Schubert: All right.

Gillian Bruce: So, would you rather take a European sightseeing vacation or a relaxing Caribbean vacation?

Eric Schubert: I would say the Caribbean one sounds a little more enticing right now. Just the idea of sit back and take a couple days off, relax, enjoy the sun, the sand. That’s sounds very appealing.

Gillian Bruce: You’re speaking my language Eric, I like it. All right. Your last question is what is something on your bucket list?

Eric Schubert: One thing on my bucket list? I would say to go to a continent that I have not been to before. So, Australia would be kind of cool. Africa, even Antarctica, those are some pretty cool places that you can get out to and see parts of the world that you never really get exposed to being here in the United States. That’d be pretty cool.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. I love it. Well thank you so much Eric again for your time and I am sure that your story has helped inspire at least a few admins to check out the certified technical architect program and think a little bit more about how they might be able to stretch their own careers.

Eric Schubert: Great, I hope they do.

Gillian Bruce: Excellent. Well thanks so much Eric.

Eric Schubert: All right. Thank you.

Gillian Bruce: Huge thanks to Eric for taking the time to chat with us today and help inspire us all to think about this path to becoming a certified technical architect. Now, admins, we have very important jobs and I really love what Eric talked about when he said, hey I saw what these people, what these titles of architect were doing and they were doing a lot of the same things I was doing as an admin. You know, talking about data modeling, process automation, security models. These are all things that he had done every day in his life as an admin, as most of us do, and said, hey I could do that too. So, Eric, took it upon himself to look at what it would take to become a CTA and he said, hey, you know what, I’m going to take some of these certifications because these are the requirements to get there, and he started passing them. So, really exciting, he got 11 times certified. He is actually now an application architect, which is one of the pieces you need in order to become an overall CTA, and this is really important I think for all of us to think about because he really pointed out, we think like architects. When you’re deciding whether to use standard objects or custom objects, avoiding reinventing the wheel, that is the same mindset that you need in order to become an architect.

Gillian Bruce: So, if that’s something that inspires you, intrigues you, definitely make sure that you check it out. Good news is we’re got lots of resources to help you do that. We have an entire page on our Trailhead website dedicated to how you can become a certified technical architect. I put the program link in the show notes. There’s also a path to CTA talking about the career opportunities and what it takes to get there. It is a lofty goal but hey, you’re already an admin, you’d be surprised how much of the work you’ve already done.

Gillian Bruce: The other thing that we’ve got that’s on Trailhead is yep, we got a Trailmix for you. So, definitely a good way to get a handle on preparing for that journey, understanding what it takes. So check all that out. Resources and links are in the show notes so that you can find out more about what we talk about today. Now, if you want to find out more about becoming an awesome admin as we all always want to be more awesome, you can go to admin.salesforce.com where you can find blogs, webinars, events, and yes, even more podcast. Now, the best thing about Trailhead, as I mentioned, is it definitely helps you prepare to become to a certified technical architect, but it prepares you to become certified no matter what your certification goal is, and especially if you haven’t taken any certification yet, do it. Make it a goal this year to get certified for the first time. There’s a lot of great resources on Trailhead to help you get there. Make sure you check it out.

Gillian Bruce: One more thing I’m going to ask you to do before you leave is subscribe to the podcast and share it with your friends. That way you can get it delivered directly to your platform or device of choice the moment they are released. You can find us on Twitter @Salesforceadmns no I. Our guest today was Eric Schubert, and he is on Twitter @SchubertEric. Link is in the show notes. And as always you can find myself @GillianKBruce. Thank you so much for listening to this episode and we’ll catch you next in the cloud.

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