Interview with Golden Trailblazer Hoodie Winner and Salesforce Supermum – Heather Black
We sat down with the Managing Director of Economic Change CIC, Heather Black, to learn more about her growing social enterprise.
Supermums is a workforce development program that is upskilling mums with Salesforce. It has gone from strength to strength since it was launched in Europe during 2016 and is now expanding into the US and Australia. Since then, they’ve welcomed over 150 trainees (mums and a couple of dads) from 6 countries to the Supermums family, and the trainees have provided over 3,600 hours of pro-bono support to over 90 charities. The success of the program saw Heather be awarded the Golden Trailblazer Hoodie at Salesforce World Tour London earlier this year for her contributions to the Salesforce community.
When did you realise you could forge a career from giving back?
I learned about social enterprise at University and it really resonated with me; I even went on to do a master’s degree in support structures for social enterprises. Along the way, I met a lot of inspiring people – and they’ve continued to be part of my network.
When did Salesforce and social enterprise come together for you?
In 2005, I quit my job as a consultant and set up my first social enterprise, Striding Out. I didn’t really understand what CRM was, but I saw a partner organisation using Salesforce and I had a lightbulb moment. We started managing our career development programs, marketing campaigns, and fundraising activities on Salesforce. I booked myself onto an advanced Administrator and consultancy course and spent the next year building a platform that would help us scale – and it worked. In just 12 months, we went from a 100k turnover to 1.3m and reached over 10,000 young people, and our team rocketed from five to forty.
What are the best things about being part of the Salesofrce.org Ecosystems?
I think one of the best things for me was and still is, the community, and how willing to help everybody is. When I got started, I would often post a question in the Power of Us HUB to get guidance on the best applications to use – getting advice from others who have already gone through the journey is invaluable. I was connecting with consultants and other nonprofits which really helped me understand how much I could harness Salesforce to help my nonprofit to grow.
When did you become a Trailblazer for technology?
Being able to demonstrate the impact of our work at Striding Out was crucial to securing funding. I became addicted to getting my hands dirty in Salesforce and discovering all the different insights and dashboards. Rather than hiring a developer, I kept adding new features to our platform by building with clicks not code. I never realised I had such a passion for technology – I didn’t even know what a database was! With Salesforce, I can always keep learning.
How does Salesforce help you achieve a good work/life balance?
Before we got married, my now husband and I, went travelling for four months. To help fund our trip, I worked as a Salesforce Admin in the evenings earning around £2,000 per month while we explored New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, and Africa. When we returned to the UK, we moved to the south coast and I set up Economic Change, a social enterprise and Salesforce consultancy that helps nonprofit organisations leverage technology so they can have a greater impact. When my first daughter was born, Salesforce gave me the flexibility to work from home and develop my career on my own terms. And that’s where the idea for Supermums came from.
Tell us more about Supermums?
I launched Supermums while bouncing my second daughter on my knee! I realised there was a huge opportunity to empower other mums to become Salesforce Admins. We provide training and hands-on work experience to help mums (and dads!) develop careers they can shape around their lives – not the other way around. Since 2016 we’ve welcomed 750 people into the Supermums community on Facebook and we’re continuing to grow.
Can you share some Supermums success stories?
Our first two Supermums – Gillian and Jenny – are great examples. Gillian worked for 10 years at a big tech company before taking voluntary redundancy while on maternity leave with her third child. She found us on Facebook and loved that we offered hands-on Salesforce training with real-world experience. Before she’d even graduated from the program, Gillian was offered the role of technical lead with a Salesforce partner and now works as a customer success manager. Jenny graduated at the same time and went straight into a job. She’s worked as a Salesforce Admin and in customer-facing roles and is now sharing her knowledge by taking part in webinars.
What has been the proudest momement of your career to date?
It was probably being part of the Salesforce World Tour London Keynote where I was awarded the much sought-after Golden Trailblazer Hoodie! We had 50 plus Supermum trainees in the audience and it was just amazing to have them there and to celebrate with the whole Salesforce community.
What advice do you have for new Trailblazers?
Talk to people. When I first thought about starting my own business, I took a week off work and lined up 40 interviews with people who knew the industry. All those people later became my customers. It’s key to build relationships and trust so people believe in you when you ask them to support your next idea. When I have an idea, I take a calculated risk: I explore and pilot it rather than just plunge in. This approach has helped me build a successful business while still finding time for my family and for myself: whether it’s taking time out for a clifftop walk or a run along the seafront.
Are you looking to hire Salesforce talent or a nonprofit in need of some pro-bono support?
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