Employee Spotlight - Navigating Liz Nelson's Path to QuantumRhino
Q: Hi Liz, thank you so much for your time today. We look forward to sharing more about you and your journey here to QuantumRhino with our readers. To start, what is your job title?
A: I am a Business Relationship Manager (BRM) for QuantumRhino, which is a newer role within the tech industry. We took two standard technology software roles, Business Analyst and Project Manager, and combined them into the Business Relationship Manager role. With this role, we can assist our clients with the technical aspects and also act as the liaison between them and our development team. I enjoy that this role allows me to utilize the skills I learned through the Salesforce Pathfinder Program and assist our development team throughout the project.
Q: Thank you for the thorough explanation! That really helps give a deeper perspective and better understanding on this new role. Can you talk to us about your experience with the Salesforce Pathfinder Program?
Prior to enrolling in the Salesforce Pathfinder Program, I had worked in technology for many years but decided to take a break while my kids were still young so I could homeschool them and travel in our motorhome. Now that they're a little older and in middle school, I decided to come back to work for two reasons: (1) my kids are becoming more independent and (2) I wanted to be a good role model and show them that by taking on challenges and following through, you will succeed.
I decided I wanted a different path in technology than I had been on previously, and while listening to a podcast one day, I learned about Salesforce. I thought it sounded interesting so I looked into it more, opened a Trailhead account, and joined a Facebook group where I learned about Salesforce Military, formerly known as Vet Force. Salesforce Military is a free program for veterans looking to make a career change into tech that includes resources for tech training, career advice, exams, fellowships, and interviews. From Salesforce Military, I learned about the Salesforce Pathfinder Program. I thought it looked exciting, so I applied for it and got in!
Q: That’s so great! Do you feel Salesforce Pathfinder Program prepared you for your new career path?
Absolutely! The Salesforce Pathfinder program was essential to preparing me for a tech role. I felt like when I was doing the Trailhead modules on my own I was just going through the motions, but the Pathfinder program was an entire education program from business to technology. The program helped with my resume, preparing for mock interviews, and polishing my LinkedIn profile to attract future employers.
For the technical side of Salesforce, we held weekly stand-ups that mimicked how development teams actually collaborate in the workplace. I have found that the whole program really aligned with this job that I find myself in now. I got to present my solutions to the entire Pathfinder group which prepared me to be on camera — that was very helpful in this virtual environment we find ourselves in nowadays. And it helped prepare me and my team for the Salesforce Pathfinder competition.
Q: A competition sounds exciting - tell me more about that!
Salesforce Pathfinder hosted a competition for approximately 25 teams throughout the U.K. and U.S. who submitted a solution to a mock-up scenario. My team placed in the top three of the competition, which allowed for us to do a live demo at the International Salesforce Pathfinder Career Fair. After that demo, my team ended up getting first place!
All the work I did for the demos allowed me to showcase my presentation skills while interviewing with QuantumRhino. The program really does set people up to succeed. The whole experience was a great representation of what it's like to be in the workplace and provide a solution that brings us, as technical experts, closer to clients.
Salesforce Pathfinder is an all-encompassing program that is really good. I often reflect back when I'm doing something new in my role and think, "That program really did prepare me, so I'm not nervous or uncomfortable with a certain scenario because I've already done it so many times that it's just second nature." I cannot speak highly enough about the Salesforce Pathfinder Program because it does prepare you to enter the workforce ready to go.
Q: I like how you said it was all-encompassing; sometimes you enter a program and it prepares you in one area, but not in everything. It sounds like Pathfinder really set you up for success! How did you go from the Pathfinder Program to finding QuantumRhino?
Within the Pathfinder program, we had weekly stand-up meetings where Salesforce Pathfinder partners could join and share about their organization. I first learned about QuantumRhino through one of those weekly meetings where V.P. of Strategy Jay Cayabyab and Co-Founder + CEO Chris Sinkwitz came in and talked about QuantumRhino. At the end of the program, we had a career fair that included the companies that partner with the Pathfinder program.
One aspect of the career fair is if you submitted your resume to a Pathfinder partner, you would receive an interview with them, whether they were hiring or not. This allowed us to practice interviewing and also let the partner have our information on file so if they were hiring in the future, they could contact us. At the career fair, I popped into the QuantumRhino space and shared my elevator pitch, which the Pathfinder Program taught me how to put together. I followed up a few days later by submitting my resume to the QuantumRhino website, and about a day later, Kiley reached out to me for an interview and that same day, QuantumRhino’s Co-Founder + CEO, Chris Sinkwitz, offered the BRM position to me. It was a very smooth and seamless process!
Q: I am sure there were a lot of other employers present at this career fair, and maybe other offers you might have received. Was there anything specific about QuantumRhino that stood out to you or made that decision easier for you to join QuantumRhino?
Yes! When Chris and Jay did their promotion during that weekly stand-up meeting, they had a slide in there, and it said, "The mind is everything: what you think, you become" and I locked right onto that when I saw it. I started paying more attention to what they were saying because I kind of live along those lines as well; the things that you think and the people you associate with are who you become! So when I saw that, and saw that QuantumRhino was based in Arizona just like me, it stuck in my mind. They presented during the fourth week of the program, and Pathfinder was a four-month program, but QuantumRhino just kept coming up in my mind throughout the duration of it and I thought, "It would be so nice to work with that company whose vision aligns with my own and is local here in Arizona!"
Q: And here you are!! We are so glad you decided to #JointheCrash and are very proud to witness your growth and accomplishments at QuantumRhino! Shifting gears: can you share with us any certifications you’re proud of, or any programs or certifications that you’d like to complete? What is something you’re interested in?
In Salesforce, I am both a certified Salesforce Administrator and a Marketing Cloud Email Specialist. I was also a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE), and from my military Army Aviation background, I hold an Airframe & Powerplant (A&P) mechanic’s license. For the future, I think Salesforce Experience Cloud would be a good certification to pursue because I enjoy working in that portion of Salesforce.
Otherwise, I am fully engaged in learning how to be the best business analyst I can be, as it is a new role for me. It’s different from a Salesforce Administrator, so it’s something I am digging into and honing new skill sets along the way. I like to be good at everything I do, and I don't ever approach life at half capacity. So for now, I am going to focus on the business analyst part of my role!
In my personal life I was a foster parent for a few years and have adopted three kids.
Q: What have been some of your favorite or most impactful projects you've worked on, through either the Salesforce Pathfinder Program or at QuantumRhino?
Doing the Capstone in the Pathfinder Program was so much fun! It made me remember what it was like to manage a project. I shared the project lead role with one other person, which reminded me of how much fun it is to work on a team, and the camaraderie that you have with your teammates. I’ve experienced that same camaraderie within QuantumRhino while getting to know the team, and everybody's so willing to help out and work together. I have also taken the lead on a few new clients at QuantumRhino, which has been incredible as I can utilize my new skill sets from the Pathfinder Program.
Q: Coming from someone who had been out of the workforce and decided to step back into the tech world: if someone is interested in getting into a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) career, what is one piece of advice you'd share?
Well, I really believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. But to start, STEAM is such a broad spectrum, so I would say first you need to narrow it down a little and pick one thing to focus on and be good at it; find out if you have a knack for it, you know?
I would also say to pair logical thinking with creativity. I find that when you’re coming up with solutions in technology, you have to have both a little bit of logical thinking as well as the ability to step outside the box and be creative. In today's technological world, you need to have people skills, be creative, and step into that logical thought process.
And lastly, technology changes rapidly, so you need to be willing to keep learning - always! It takes dedication and effort, but it's worth it. Don't be afraid, even if you feel confused at first. Find good resources, ask good questions, and just keep at it because it all does come together eventually.
Q: Was there any part of you that was nervous about going back into the workforce and tech?
I felt confident but nervous at the same time because I had been out of the workforce for so long and I wasn't sure how that would be received. This experience has reaffirmed for me that everyone has value. Even if you've been out of the workforce for years, what you've been doing has value and still applies to what's happening now and going forward.
I was welcomed in with open arms at Salesforce and QuantumRhino. But, even in that time I was not in the workforce, I was homeschooling my kids from kindergarten through seventh grade. That took a lot of organization, planning, dedication, and follow-through. I wrote a lot of their curriculum and ran clubs, which were very popular and successful within the homeschooling community. So I stayed active in things that could translate to the business world. And I am a determined person when I decide to do something!
That said, I feel like I was better prepared than most because I went through the Salesforce Pathfinder Program. It would have been a much bigger struggle without it; there is so much support during the program and even ongoing support when you're done. It's a whole career support group, and they're continuously there for you if you need something.
Q: Now to get to know you outside of your work with QuantumRhino. What do you like to do in your spare time?
That's an easy question! I like to hang out with my friends, and I love to be outside. Hiking and kayaking, are two of my favorite things to do here in Arizona - especially when the weather is nice. I also really enjoy going off-roading in my Jeep; I can get to some really neat and remote places in it! There is just so much beautiful country to see here in Arizona.