This was my third TrailheaDX. For those not familiar, Salesforce launched the TrailheaDX conference in 2016 as a companion to Dreamforce. When it was first launched it was focused primarily on developer content but over the years it has shifted to include content for admins and app builders. And this year, the conference expanded to include architect content!
I was lucky enough to be involved in the planning of the architect track for the conference along with the other co-leads of Ladies Be Architects, current CTAs and some key Salesforce staff. You can read more Architects @ TDX19 here. But this blog is about my crazy journey leading up to conference this year.
To my surprise, about two months before TDX19 I received a note from Zayne Turner asking for us to have a phone call to catch up. I’ve known Zayne for several years. But we don’t talk outside of conferences and work very often, so it was a bit unusual for her to ask me to have a phone chat with her. And at the last minute she invited Christophe Coenraets to the call. In case you aren’t aware, Christophe is Principal Developer Evangelist at Salesforce, and kind of a big deal. I was utterly perplexed and also very curious about what we would be talking about.
During the call, Zayne and Christophe let me know that I was at the top of the list to be featured at TDX for my work with the company I work for, Boston Scientific, and also my work in the community. After a series of calls with Salesforce staff, and some major finger-crossing on my side, it was confirmed that I would be featured in a Salesforce led demo at the KEYNOTE AT TDX. Crazy, right?
And to add something even more unreal, I found out that Salesforce wanted to make a Trailblazer video featuring me. WOW. I never expected this to happen.
To film the amazing Trailblazer films that you see on the “big screen” or online, Salesforce employs a Hollywood-style film crew (literally 14 people came to my house to film!) It was absolutely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. And it was all a bit of a blur. The filming took place over two days. The first day I went to a film studio in Boston to record my main interview, then the second day the crew came to my house and then to my office. Luckily my partner captured a view pictures in between the filming of me playing viola, “working” on my computer, feeding my dog Parker, and drinking coffee…all multiple times to capture that perfect shot.
I also realized how difficult it can be to navigate proper approvals and sign-offs at a large company. I work in IT at Boston Scientific, and trying to find out who has the authority to approve a 14 person film crew to come onsite was not an easy task. And making sure I had the right marketing and legal sign-offs for the video and demo was no walk in the park either. There were definitely days where I thought the TDX feature might fall through. But with persistence and a bit of patience, plus the wonderful help of Salesforce, it all worked out.
In February I spoke with a member of the Salesforce team and she told me about an idea she had. A new area at TrailheaDX (TDX) just for current and aspiring architects. I thought to myself, “this could be HUGE”.
But I knew it was still just one of many potential ideas floating around for the event. I was hopeful that it might come together, but tried not to get my hopes up too much. Ideas like this happen a lot, but bringing them into reality can be tough.
A month or so later I was thrilled to learn that an Architect track and lodge were confirmed for TDX. This was huge. Since I started attending Salesforce events 7 years ago, I had not seen an expansion beyond just admin and developer content.
And to my surprise, Charly, Gemma, and I were invited to help contribute to the creation of the content as part of Ladies Be Architects. How cool! The next month was full of plotting and planning with Salesforce staff and current CTAs.
We had a ton of ideas floating around in our communal Quip doc. From an architect game show, to 1-on-1 CTA consults, to a new female architect mascot. Again, I tried to temper my excitement. But nearly all of our ideas were coming to life as the weeks passed by.
The weeks leading up to TDX19 were full of more and more good (and overwhelming news). Ladies Be Architects would be presenting one session three times, I would be presenting twice with the amazing Gillian Bruce and I would be leading a panel focused on diversity in the architect career path. Before I knew it, I was committed to 8 sessions at TDX. Oh my!
As if that wasn’t enough, we found out that the popularity of some of the Architect sessions was so large that we needed to add “repeat” sessions and move some to larger rooms. It was completely unbelievable how much demand there was for architect content. Not to mention that the post-TDX architect bootcamps were completely sold out.
TDX week was finally upon us. This would only be the second time that Gemma, Charly and I would all be together in the same place (the first was Dreamforce last year). I couldn’t wait to see my ladies.
The day before the conference we were lucky enough to get a private tour of Salesforce tower. We went up to the Ohana floor and also to floor 12 where the Trailhead team sits and all the magic happens. Oh, and I had the most amazing latte I’ve ever had at the Ohana café. If you get the chance, I definitely recommend grabbing a coffee there.
The first day of TDX was a bit of a blur. We had our first session at 8:15 AM, and before that, I had committed myself to two (!) breakfasts. After our first session I had to run to the keynote where I was featured and got to meet Parker Harris and Sarah Franklin. I have an entire post dedicated to that experience , because it was absolutely once-in-a-lifetime.
While I wasn’t able to attend many sessions that I wasn’t presenting in, I did make sure to show up for one important Architect Theater presentation. In case you missed it, the amazing Domenique Sillett, Senior Creative Director at Team Trailhead, introduced a new Salesforce character at TDX this year. I saw an early preview but was sworn to secrecy. I’m so glad I can rave about her now.
The elephant is in the room and she's a total boss.
- Domenique Sillett
Ruth is the newest addition to the Trailhead family! Ruth's pronouns are She/Her. She is an the mascot for all Salesforce Architects and replaces her processor, Meta Moose. Her favorite superbadge is Advanced Apex Specialist and she is absolutely adorable. Ruth was inspired by a real-life powerhouse—a woman that Dominique met in Kenya who was an amazing Traiblazer.
It sounds a bit silly since there were so many amazing things that happened at TDX (ahem…golden hoodie) but the introduction of Ruth is what finally got me completely emotional. For as long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with elephants. I have an elephant tattoo, have elephant themed stuff all over my house, and have traveled to Africa and Asia to see elephants. So seeing Ruth introduced to the ecosystem as an Architect mascot seemed like the universe telling me that I am doing what I’m meant to be doing.
More than anything, this year’s TrailheaDX made me so excited for the future of the Salesforce Architect career path. I’m honored to be doing this work and helping others pursue their architect journeys. And now the secret is out. The elephant is in the room, and she’s a total boss.
Susannah Kate St-Germain is a 19x certified Colombian-American Salesforce nerd, travel fanatic, and aspiring Certified Technical Architect.