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Neel Meghani, CTO – Meet The Galacticos

Continuing our series in which we get to meet and learn more about the Cloud Galacticos team, say ‘hello’ to Neel Meghani, our Chief Technical Officer. I caught up with Neel via email to find out more about him and his experiences.

Neel Meghani, CTO

Hi Neel, thanks for finding a few minutes to help people learn a bit more about you. Can you give us a bit of background about yourself and your history with Salesforce?

I was first introduced to Salesforce around 2004. I was working on a large migration project at a national newspaper on the very new force.com platform. I then transitioned from general IT to concentrating on Salesforce, even then I saw the potential for the technology could have. I then moved into the world of finance in the City where I bumped into Phil Walton. Since working with Phil, I have experienced working with many of the various clouds in different industry sectors, from potato farms to health care!

Wow, that is a long time working with Salesforce! You were also the first official Galactico that joined Phil. How long ago was that and how did you start working together?

I first met Phil in 2010 at an asset manager where we worked together on a couple of projects. We both put our heads together and managed to overcome major challenges with a very large data migration including attachments. Since then I have been known as the man to go to where data is concerned! 

Neel and Phil at India Dreamin 2018

Aside from Salesforce and working at Cloud Galacticos, what else do you enjoy doing?

I’m known by my friends, family and colleagues as the go to guy for all things fitness and nutrition. I have been a keen bodybuilder since the age of about 16. It my way of letting off steam and pushing myself. Although in recent times I have taken tips from our CEO Phil and started running. I’ve not found it easy! 

Also, I am also always hungry for technology and gadgets. I always jump feet first when something new and shiny comes out! 

Can you tell us more about your role as CTO and what it involves?

Officially I am responsible for delivery of all projects. But I’m glad to say that every day is different. With a small leadership team we cover all roles from sales all the way through to developing and delivering projects. 

So it sounds like your day is spent with a lot of time interacting with clients. What would be your top tip for working with people when remote?

Working remotely means I spend a lot of time on the phone. I find I need to have a dedicated space for work without distractions. I also recommend ensuring you have a good connection to the internet and a headset is a MUST! Also ensure you keep regular hours and take regular breaks. I have found over the years it is almost too easy when working from home to stay at your desk thinking “I’ll just get these few bits done” and then before you know it it’s 8-9pm! 

You recently passed your non-profit consultant certification. I know you have given us a write up of some tips, but do you have any study tips for exams in general?

I used a mixture of Trailhead and focus on force training guides. I especially like to do a number of practise exams along the way to see where I am lacking knowledge. Also, never assume you know the basics/fundamentals. Brush up on that knowledge also just to be sure! 

Neel with the team at Salesforce World Tour London 2019

Finally, what about tips for anyone starting out with Salesforce?

I have been asked this question many times! As Salesforce has become more popular, friends and family who have largely ignored what I do have come to me down the line as they are now using Salesforce in their place of work.

Firstly developer orgs are a brilliant! When I first realised I could have more or less the full product for FREE to learn on I was blown away. That along with Trailhead, the learning path is free and fantastic. Remember to also take advantage of the community and the user groups. There is a whole world of friendly people out there who are more than willing to help you along the way!

 

Thanks Neel for your time and insight into your life. We have quite a few other team members to interview in due course. Watch this space.

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Rhiannon McCorkindale, Lead Developer – Meet the Galacticos

Continuing our series in which we get to meet and learn more about the Cloud Galacticos team, say ‘hello’ to Rhiannon McCorkindale, one of our Lead Developers. I caught up with Rhiannon via email to find out more about her and her experiences.

Rhiannon McCorkindale, Lead Developer

Hi Rhiannon, thanks for finding a few minutes to help people learn a bit more about you. Can you give us a bit of background about yourself and your history with Salesforce?

I started working with Salesforce over 12 years ago when the nonprofit I worked for implemented it to replace an onsite server and custom-built CRM. I was involved in the requirements gathering process and quickly trained up to become the Systems Administrator. Since then I have learnt Apex code and other programming languages, and recently sat one of the Architect exams.

Wow, that is a long time working with Salesforce! So how did you find Phil and the Cloud Galacticos?

I met Phil through my colleague (and fellow Galacticos) Neel when I was working as a Salesforce Developer at an Investment Management company in London. I wanted to do something different so moved into consultancy and started working for Phil.

Aside from Salesforce and working at Cloud Galacticos, what else do you enjoy doing?

I moved house recently so most of my spare time has been spent decorating and learning how to garden. I also play an instrument called a tzouras (a small bouzouki). It is used to play rebetiko music, which is also known as the ‘greek blues’.

Rhi, Emma, and Val at World Tour London

Can you tell us a bit more about your role as a Lead Developer and what that involves?

At Cloud Galacticos we can sometimes wear a few different hats and it is different for each project too. I can be involved in requirements gathering, architecture and design, implementing declarative development, documenting systems and then of course coding.

What tips would you have in working with clients remotely? Or working remotely in general?

I think it is important to have a routine and a separate space for working if you can. I always make time for a break to go for a walk in the day. Communication when working remotely is key. Some meetings definitely require a face-to-face approach, although at the moment this all has to happen over zoom or other conferencing tools. We generally keep in touch using messaging systems such as slack. 

With all your experience of working with Salesforce do you have a favourite and least favourite feature?

As most of my earlier experience was really coding on the core CRM modules, I think using a Trigger Handler Framework brings a lot of benefits especially for clients who don’t have them implemented and therefore don’t have much control over the order of execution. I wouldn’t say least favourite, but there are always challenges when clients have previously used a combination of process builders, flows and code.

Paul, Neel, Rhi, and Phil at Inspire East

Finally, what about tips for anyone starting out with Salesforce?

Trailhead is really useful. It didn’t exist as a resource when I first started using Salesforce, the hands-on modules and trying things out in playgrounds means you can gain some experience in things you haven’t used before.

 

Thanks Rhiannon for your time and insight into your life. We have quite a few other team members to interview in due course. Watch this space.

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Cloud Galacticos at London’s Calling 2020

Now in its fifth edition, London’s Calling is Europe’s largest community led event for Salesforce professionals. At Cloud Galacticos we are firm believers in supporting the Salesforce Ohana. We’ve been attending the conference since the start and it’s amazing to watch it grow. So we’re proud to announce that we will be Community Sponsor at this year’s London’s Calling on Friday 20th March.

Keynote Speaker Julian Treasure

Due to increased demand, the event will be at The Brewery, in the City of London. It’s a larger space to fit in more sessions and people. This year’s keynote speaker will be Julian Treasure. He’s a sought-after and top-rated international speaker who has spoken at multiple TED events. You can see one of his talks on being a better listener here and I am looking forward to hearing what he has to share.

Salesforce Community

Paul Battisson at Londons Calling 2019

The sessions will be grouped into ‘tracks’ to help you focus, such as Marketing, Admin, and Developer. So pick the track that suits you and get learning. As well as all the learning, London’s Calling is a great place for people in the Salesforce community to connect, catch up, and also let their hair down at the after-party – which Cloud Galacticos is proud to be sponsoring this year.

‘10 People You Should Meet’

Cloud Galacticos Infographic Stickers

As per previous events, there will be a strong contingency from Cloud Galacticos in attendance. And as per last year, we will be doing a special ‘10 People You Should Meet’ at the event. It was a great success and people enjoyed trying to find the people on the list – each of whom had a sticker to hand out.

Prizes

So if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket for this year’s London’s Calling event, keep an eye out for one of our Team Galacticos staff and come and say ‘hello’. Don’t forget to ask for an infographic sheet – there may be prizes…

Keep an eye out on our Twitter and #LC20 during the event! And read about last year’s event here.

 

London’s Calling, Friday 20th March, at The Brewery in London

https://www.londonscalling.net/

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Cloud Galacticos 2019 Highlights

Being the CEO of a Silver Partner Salesforce Consultancy and managing a UK-wide team of people is no mean feat. So it’s no surprise that Phil Walton, who is also in the Salesforce MVP Hall of Fame, has a rather busy calendar. As we reach the end of another successful year, he reflects back on some of his personal highlights of 2019.

World Tour London and our Client Drinks Reception the night before (May)

Cloud Galacticos at Salesforce London World Tour with paul Sturgess

Team Galacticos with Paul Sturgess at Salesforce World Tour London 2019

 

For most Salesforce-ers Dreamforce is the highlight of the year. But for me, the London World Tour is the big one. OK so we didn’t have Fleetwood Mac or Alicia Keys, but it is a great chance for the UKI and European Salesforce Community to meet up in person.

We had a great day, meeting Clients and Partners old and new at our Gold stand. Plus we were joined by ex-Harlem Globetrotter and Britain’s tallest man Paul Sturgess, who not only attracted a lot of attention, but was a great guy to chat with!

North Africa Dreamin’

Phil Walton speaking at North Africa Dreamin

Phil Walton speaking at North Africa Dreamin

I was very proud to be invited to speak at Africa’s first Salesforce community event – North Africa Dreamin! It was a great trip to Casablanca, where I met some great people, and had some amazing food. It is amazing to see the Salesforce Ohana spreading around the globe.

Team Galacticos

2019 has been a fantastic year for Cloud Galacticos, with excellent growth in revenue and people. We have also picked up a number of new certification skills, and industry expertise. Between the team we have bags of experience in Healthcare & Life Sciences and also Financial Services, so they are now our official specialisms (although we work in many other sectors). 

We were really excited to welcome both Nkosi Ncube and Mike Gill (who you can see below at MuleSoft CONNECT 2019) to our development team. Both are smart, experienced, knowledgeable and great guys – exactly the type of people we want on the team!

Nkosi and Mike who joined the Cloud Galacticos team in 2019

Nkosi and Mike at Mulesoft Connect 2019

We also welcomed Malcolm Heeley to the team towards the end of the year. Malcolm has a lot of experience as a business analyst and project manager which we cannot wait to use!

Nell Meghani and Phil Walton with Malcolm Heeley (centre) who joined Cloud Galacticos at the end of 2019

Salesforce Consultancy

Certificates

Also between the team we have picked up a number of new Consultancy and Architecture certifications, which we are very proud of! We have also begun to deliver training for Salesforce, fantastic recognition of our deep knowledge of the platform.

Admin and Developer User Group

MuleSoft speaking at a User Developer Group

Manchester Salesforce Admin User Group

We also attended and helped run a number of user and developer groups in Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds – bringing Salesforce to the North of England! We had a variety of speakers including MulseSoft as you can see in the photo above.

Here’s to 2020!

About Cloud Galacticos

Cloud Galacticos is a Salesforce Silver Consulting Partner with an all star team. We are user and developer group leaders, bloggers, MVPs and all round Salesforce nerds. We have people all over the UK including Manchester, Leeds, York, Sheffield and London. If you are looking for a Salesforce partner with experience who can help you make the most of your org, why not give us a call?

 

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Highlights from Dreamforce 2019

As the dust settles on another Dreamforce and his jet lag fades, our head of marketing Ben Duong writes about his highlights at this year’s event:

Dreamforce 2019 is the sixth time I’ve attended what undeniably the main Salesforce event of the year – even with all the new upstarts like TrailheaDX and various Dreamin’ events. As per previous years, this year’s Dreamforce had a jam-packed line up of sessions, speakers, parties, and much more. Add to that around 170,000 international attendees, it’s always going to be a full-on four days.

 

#Flying Solo

The main difference this year was that I was flying solo (normally it’s in attendance with the CEO of Cloud Galacticos, Phil Walton). This meant taking a different approach whilst attending the conference. First thing I did was to sign up to the ‘Dreamforce Ohana Golden Gate Bridge Walk’ – which I discovered through the Twitter community and Eric Dreshfield. It was a great pre-DF19 social meet up. I met various members of the Salesforce Ohana from Brazil, Japan and Ukraine. I also ended up bumping into them again at various times during the week which was nice. Mainly, it was good catching up with James Ellis who is a regular at our North England user group.

 

#SalesforceOhana

Continuing the theme of meeting my #SalesforceOhana, there was an EMEA Trailblazer Get Together. It was a casual meet up of the #TrailblazerCommunity from the Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. As well as familiar faces from the UK, I also met people from Spain, Switzerland and Morocco. And of course, one of the main party highlights was the UK & I reception party at the rather grand Hibernia Bank.

 

Learning

I attended some of the main keynotes, including the opening keynote with Marc Benioff; the Partner keynote; and Marketing keynote. I got a good overview of the latest updates relevant to me and Cloud Galacticos. I also went to a few useful sessions relating to marketing such as, ‘5 Tips for Writing Awesome Salesforce Community Content’ with Lucy Mazalon (Salesforceben), and ‘5 Lessons Learned from Interviewing 50+ CMOs’ with Ian Faison and Benjamin Wilson (The Mission).

 

Mindfulness

Most attendees find Dreamforce overwhelming. It’s a perfect cocktail of four full days of sessions, parties, hoards of people and lots walking. Luckily, this year there was a dedicated area of calm in the guise of the Plum Village Centre in Moscone South. I managed to do a 90-minute meditation workshop which helped centre myself again and was ready for Dreamfest that evening.

 

Dreamfest

Being a big music fan, Dreamfest is always one of my highlights, having managed to see the likes of the Foo Fighters, Blondie, and U2. This year was no different, with Beck supporting Fleetwood Mac. It was held at the baseball stadium which is the perfect venue for any music event.

 

Dreamforce 2020

At the end of each Dreamforce, most attendees would say that it was the best yet. Furthermore, they can’t wait to do it all again next year. And you know what? They’re right!

See you in San Francisco 9th to 12th November 2020…

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Preparing for the Annual Pilgrimage to San Francisco for Dreamforce 2019

With Dreamforce 2019 starting next week, our head of marketing, Ben Duong writes about what he’s looking forward to as he gets ready to go to San Francisco…

‘Glastonbury of the Tech World’

This year’s Dreamforce will be my fifth time in attendance, and I’ve seen it grow year-on-year to the ‘mega-conference’ that it has become. Each year is unlike the year before, as Salesforce is a company that embraces change and the latest technological advances. I guess as our CEO, Phil Walton, once described it, Dreamforce is the ‘Glastonbury of the tech world’.

With around 170,000 attendees from across the globe, over 2,700 sessions and workshops, plus hundreds of parties, and much more spread over four action-packed days, it can be pretty overwhelming. As you can guess there are plenty of great blogs from the Salesforce ecosystem highlighting their tips on ‘how to survive Dreamforce’. My blog is more about what I’m looking forward to and of course a couple of tips…

#FlyingSolo

This year I’ll be #FlyingSolo and representing Cloud Galacticos – a Salesforce Silver Partner consultancy. It’ll give me a chance to go out of my comfort zone and try things I haven’t done in previous years.

Golden Gate Bridge Walk Dreamforce

Photo Credit: Zachary Jeans

Salesforce Ohana

Meeting and connecting with fellow trailblazers outside of the sessions/parties is always one of the highlights. So I was excited to hear about the Dreamforce Ohana Golden Gate Bridge Walk (which has been going since 2014). What a great chance to get up close to an iconic San Francisco landmark, get some exercise and meet new people?

UK & Ireland Ohana

With hundreds of thousands of people coming to Dreamforce, you could be talking to someone from New York one minute, then someone from Japan or Morocco the next. It’s also nice when you do meet someone from your own country. That’s why the UK&I Reception event is always one of my highlights, not just because it’s normally in amazing venues (this year it’s in a historic bank building considered to be ‘the finest building in the City’), but it’s a chance to catch up with your peers as well as meet new ones.

Inspirational Speakers

Alongside the thousands of awesome sessions, there’s also a few high profile speakers attending the conference. The one thing they have in common is that they are doing amazing things in their field. This year we’re spoilt for choice, with Tim Cook (CEO of Apple), Megan Rapinoe (World Cup and Olympic Champion), Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women), and of course, 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama.

Dreamforce 2019 Speakers

Photo Credit: Salesforce

Dreamfest

As well as all the learning, networking and walking, Dreamforce is a great chance to let your hair down and enjoy some great music, and all for a good cause. Previous years have seen the likes of the Foo Fighters, Blondie, U2, and Metallic entertain the crowds. And this year is no different with Fleetwood Mac. Expect lots of singalong crowd-pleasers. All the while raising money for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals.

All in all, this year’s Dreamforce continues the conference’s programme of amazing speakers, sessions, parties, and much more. If you’re lucky enough to be attending – and #flyingsolo – come and say ‘Hello’!

Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @TheNorth / @CloudGalacticos for live Tweets during the conference!

Finally, here are some tips from the CEO and COO of Cloud Galacticos:

Phil Walton, CEO

“Don’t be afraid to travel around Dreamforce on your own. I used to do a lot of backpacking around the world, and when I travelled on my own I met people all the time – when I travelled with a partner or friends I met hardly anyone else apart from those friends! Especially at an event like Dreamforce where there really are lots of ‘friends you haven’t met yet’, people are welcoming if you can pluck up the courage to say ‘Hi, I’m [insert name here], I don’t know anyone at this event, what do you hope to learn here/where are you from/how long have you been working in Salesforce’ etc. Be brave!”

“Don’t expect a holiday! By the time you arrive you will probably be tired and possibly jet-lagged. For me the time difference is 8 hours, it’s like travelling to Australia. There will be early sessions, a full daytime schedule, many miles of walking, then the evening partying starts. Repeat that for four or more days… Oh, and don’t forget the jet lag, and not sleeping properly. You will be shattered – if you do it right!”

Paul Battisson, COO

“If you enjoy a session or feel you have learned something from it, try and find 2 minutes to wait around after the session is done and thank the speaker. It can be hard for speakers to know whether the session they’ve just given has been well received or not. Taking that time to say thanks can make their day. And don’t feel shy about waiting to ask for questions or advice! Speakers are only too happy to help and you may end up making a new friend!”

“Enjoy some of the more relaxing elements of the Dreamforce experience. Sit in the Dreamforest (the blocked off block of Howard) and enjoy the live music, meet the Pawdot Puppies, and attend a meditation session. It doesn’t have to be all mayhem and madness!”