Jonathan Fox- from military to Salesforce Technical Architect

Jonathan Fox on transitioning from a military career and a non-technical background, to Salesforce Technical Architect

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In this week’s episode we’re joined by Jonathan Fox, a Salesforce Technical Architect and Golden Hoodie recipient based in the UK. We discussed how he has found success in the Salesforce ecosystem having transitioned from a career in the military in 2019, and his journey coming from a completely non-technical background.

He shares tips and advice on how he became a Salesforce Developer, how he worked for Salesforce as a Solution Engineer, and now works as a Technical Architect.

This chat with Jonathan is full of useful advice as well as inspiration for others who are looking to build a career in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Make sure you’re following him here and we hope you enjoy the episode!


Ben (00:01.249)

Jonathan, welcome to the show.


Jonathan Fox (00:03.586)

Thank you for having me, I’m excited to be on it.


Ben (00:05.773)

No, my pleasure. And as I’ve explained to you off air, I’ve had a number of people over the last couple of years mention your name as someone they’d like to hear on the show, so I’ve definitely had you in mind. And I’ve listened to other podcasts you’ve been on, I’ve seen some of the content out in the market. And I think a lot of people would have heard your story as in who you were before Salesforce, but we will cover that today. But I’m really keen to really focus in on how you became a Developer and then a Technical Architect and really explore that path after you actually decided to move into the world of Salesforce. Let’s start back at the beginning. So can you tell me a little bit about that career prior to Salesforce, and really how Salesforce came to your attention?


Jonathan Fox (00:48.894)

Yeah, absolutely. My journey into the Salesforce ecosystem is much like everybody else’s story in the fact that they fell into it. The accidental Admins, accidental Developers, all that kind of same scenario. I started off in the British Army as my first real kind of full-time career. You know, I had jobs outside of college and everything, but the British Army was kind of the making of myself as a person and career-wise, and I was a Royal Military Policeman. So I made it to the rank of Corporal in the British Army Royal Military Police, and the best way I can describe it is what a civilian police officer does in the UK, apart from our jurisdiction is the Armed Forces and behind the fence of the camp, making sure that everyone behaves and does as they’re told. It was great fun, I loved it. I learned a lot and it shaped me as a person and it still shapes me as a person today. It really does give me a different outlook on life and I think that’s how it helped me into the Salesforce ecosystem. But it was when my daughter was born and I realised that I was missing out on some real crucial milestones of hers, you know, walking, talking, growing up, and I didn’t want that. It works for some people, it absolutely works for some people, for me it just didn’t. So I decided I wanted to leave the Army. And it was scary. The Army is a one year notice period. So I had to figure out what I wanted to do, and there wasn’t a whole bunch of options that came to my head straight away. I thought back to college and high school and I loved I.T. I loved the way I.T worked, just the general concepts. And I thought, “you know what? I want a career in technology. It’s going to be around us forever. And it’s only going to get more and more”. So I started looking into being a Developer, website development. It was, you know, I was interested in how things look. It was easy for me to build something and see how it looked and that appealed to me. But it was at a family barbecue, talking to my brother-in-law when he told me about how he’s a Developer, or was a Developer, for a Salesforce ISV partner, which opened the door to the Salesforce world for me as well.


Ben (03:00.193)

So at that point, you’re having your burger at the barbecue and this word ‘Salesforce’ pops up. Had you ever heard of the platform before, heard of the business?


Jonathan Fox (03:11.34)

Nope. Never heard of the platform, never heard the word Salesforce before. I’ve probably barely heard of the word like Amazon Web Services or Azure or anything like that, like Google Cloud, but you know, cloud computing, software as a service, probably never things that I’d even crossed my tongue, let alone been spoken about. And if my brother-in-law had spoken about, I’m sure he’ll watch this podcast back and listen to it. And yeah, he probably spoke about it and I probably just in one ear out the other when he had in the past. It was something that hooked me, something that caught my attention because I was then interested in it. It was something I wanted to pursue. And it was him pulling out his laptop, showing me Trailhead, showing me a Salesforce Developer org and what he did, which really kind of caught my attention. You know, it was friendly. It was, the UI was intriguing. Trailhead was easy to grasp. That’s what really caught my attention.


Ben (04:08.089)

So how long until you’d resigned? Like you said, this is a one year notice period, which is good and bad, right? Because a year is a good amount of time to kind of work out what you want to do, but you can’t start applying for roles at the beginning of that year, because no one’s going to hold that role open for you. So how long into that notice period did Salesforce kind of come across and be on the agenda?


Jonathan Fox (04:24.575)

Quite early on, probably within the first kind of two, three months because I was quite proactive in the way that I wanted to plan my exit journey out of the Army because I had a young family, you know, I had a house, bills, a little baby at the time. I needed to plan something. I needed a stable income. So I really did hit the ground running, when I clicked the button on the system to say I was resigning from the Army, it was kind of from there that I was really trying to plan out my path, started teaching myself how to be a Developer, online resources, and it was probably after a couple of months when I started talking to more people like my brother-in-law, which I came across Salesforce and changed my learning pattern to not just being super generic about anything, Developer and programming, to being a bit more specific and being a bit more Salesforce orientated. But that doesn’t mean I strayed completely away from it, because I still understood the need for the core skills that I gained from other technologies.


Ben (05:36.781)

So why, a lot of people when they’re coming into the Salesforce ecosystem and don’t have that technical background, they typically pursue the Admin path, what was it about the Developer role that appealed to you?


Jonathan Fox (05:48.83)

I’m always one of those people that’s really inquisitive. I like to understand how things really, truly work and to understand how the Salesforce platform truly works to the lowest detail you can as a Consultant/Developer, you know without working at Salesforce on the program team the deepest you can go is by being a Developer, looking at how the Apex works or looking at how the Lightning Web Components do something on the screen, and to me that was really interesting and intriguing, because I could find out how something worked, I could look at a page and click a button and I then could dig into the code and find out “right okay, how did the Developer actually make that button do X Y and Z”, and that’s what really intrigued me because then I could start using my imagination to do cool things as well. I could build out my own version and make it do some really interesting things and so I think that’s what intrigued me more to be a Developer because then I could start pushing the boundaries of what the art of the possible was on the platform and I could really start being creative


Ben (06:48.577)

So going from never having coded before, to starting to code, what did you do to gain that foundational knowledge? The real base level coding skills?


Jonathan Fox (07:00.364)

It was daunting, it was scary, coming from nowhere near that background. So I had to really make a plan. I started off online free resources as well. Like I didn’t really pay for much, that’s the auction man in me. I went on things like Code Academy, I found some free courses on Udemy, looked at YouTube videos, and I started off with the basics, building a static website, making something that I could maybe use as a portfolio for myself to showcase what I’ve been doing throughout my learning journey because two birds with one stone, I could learn how to code but also showcase it at the same time. And then I started joining kind of little communities, on Discord and other platforms where I could learn from other Developers and join on social little projects, you know, build a bot on Slack to do something for a game that we all might play together or something like that. I started doing little projects that were fun to me because that kept me interested, it kept me engaged but also let me learn new skills. Let me dive into Javascript, let me learn about Java on hosting on AWS and things like that which eventually allowed me to gain those core principles of object-orientated programming and things like that which totally transferable to the Salesforce world because you need those base level skills to be a good Developer on the Salesforce platform


Ben (08:33.825)

Yeah, I think that’s really, that’s a key point. And I think that’s something that, you know, some people may skip that step, right? Because they’re like, right, I want to learn Salesforce. I’m going to go on Trailhead. I’m going to learn Apex really well. But to be a good Programmer, like to have the, like you mentioned, the object oriented programming skills, like to understand algorithms, that kind of thing as a Developer is actually really important. So is that something like someone kind of said, this is, you know, you need to do this, don’t run before you can walk. You need to know how to program system agnostically before you then become a specialist in Salesforce?


Jonathan Fox (09:10.678)

So, I mean, there are definitely some great Developers in the Salesforce ecosystem who’ve probably never touched a line of code outside of the platform. And that’s because Trailhead does provide some really great tools and the platform is relatively well structured and safe to be able to do these practices. We have governor limits in place, which really help us kind of then tailor our code and learn to do it in the right way if we didn’t do it the right way the first time. It definitely helps to learn system agnostic, like you mentioned, because it’s transferable. Now I’m not saying Salesforce is going to go anywhere in the near future because it’s absolutely not, but it’s always good to have that backup plan if you can develop outside of the platform, you’ve got options in your future. But I think it also plays into the fact that, look at the way AI is now taking a turn for the Salesforce platform, the skills that you need to be a really skilled AI Developer, build AI algorithms and different processes requires you to now learn how to code on things like Amazon SageMaker and other AI tools off platform. So if you have those skills to start with, you’re going to be riding that wave and excelling and then it goes for whatever the next thing after AI will be on the Salesforce platform. If you can do it outside, then you’re definitely going to be able to do it well on the inside of the platform. However, it’s not a requirement, I would say. It just makes your journey a little bit more smooth.


Ben (10:39.261)

I guess now, like are there times, you’ve just mentioned a couple of examples in the future where it might be useful, but like day to day, do you go, “oh, you know what, actually, this is taking me back to when I learned X at the beginning of my journey”. Is it still something you’re appreciative of day to day in a pure Salesforce role?


Jonathan Fox (11:00.157)

I would say not the actual skills, i.e. the lines of code or anything like that I learned, but the appreciation to continuously learn. Absolutely. As my projects have got bigger and I start working with bigger enterprise level customers, the Salesforce platform might be at the centre but there’s absolutely other technologies now involved, and what I learned to do, maybe not just learn how to write a line of JavaScript or write a Node.js app, they might be pretty basic and not something I recall on now, but what I do recall it is “how did I go and find that out? How did I teach myself? How did I learn? How did I dedicate myself to skilling up”, because now I’m at the enterprise level with a customer that wants to integrate with a Service that I’ve never used before, I’m recalling on those skills to be able to figure it out as an Architect, look into it, try it out proof of concepts, which effectively is what I was doing as a teaching myself to develop, because all these little were doing to teach myself, we don’t effectively prove the concepts, seeing how things work and how to get a grasp of them. So I definitely recall on those skills.


Ben (12:08.565)

Yeah, and I love like going back to building proof of concepts like to test yourself to explore just to you know, be creative and push the boundaries because like you mentioned you it was kind of like to build a portfolio. But when you actually got hired as a Salesforce Developer can you remember your first engagement and how different was it to actually be, I know obviously not coding into production or anything like that, but like actually writing code that was going to be used by an enterprise. How different did that feel to you compared to doing things in your own time for your own sake?


Jonathan Fox (12:42.578)

Yeah, so I think there’s definitely more pressure doing it for a client than doing it for your own learning purposes because there’s time constraints, there’s budget constraints, both those playing together as well. There’s quality, you have to make sure the quality is high level because this is not just your reputation anymore, it’s your company, your brand’s reputation. And you’ve got a X-fold number of users that your solution is now going to impact both internally at the customer, but their customers as well potentially. So there’s a lot more pressures involved. You’re own little projects, you know, you shouldn’t you should try not to get bored of it or just give up on it but you could if you really wanted to, you’ve got that safety blanket to say it was a fail, you know scrap that idea. Let’s start again another day. You can’t do that when you’re doing it as a job because you have to persevere, you need the solution to work, so there’s definitely some there’s definitely some additional pressures Especially at the beginning because you’re still learning whilst trying to provide this service “is this actually the right way to go or is there a better way of doing this” and have you even got the time to look into it and that’s where you start recall you know relying on your senior developers your other colleagues to kind of guide your mentor you and coach you through these kind of things because you’re not alone and that’s something to bear in mind as well


Ben (14:05.607)

Well, yeah, hopefully you haven’t, you’ve not joined a company where you get put out on a project on your own if you are a Junior Dev. But I’ve heard of cases like that in the past. But yeah, I think it’s, like you said, it’s so important to have those mentors around and to, because you don’t know everything, your mentors don’t know everything as well, but the more you’ve done something, the more comfortable you’re gonna get, right?


Jonathan Fox (14:27.806)

Yeah, absolutely. Nobody knows everything in the self-serve ecosystem as much as they may say they do. It’s too vast and there’s too many ways to do things.


Ben (14:35.741)

Yeah, for sure. So you joined a company called Art of Cloud, they’re not here in Australia. I’ve seen them on LinkedIn and things like that. I don’t know a huge amount about the business. But what I do know is you did progress very quickly there. So you went, you know, different levels. So from, I guess, Junior Dev to Mid to Senior to Lead relatively quickly. How did you do that? And what were the different challenges that came as you stepped up that ladder?


Jonathan Fox (15:01.206)

Yeah, absolutely. So they’re a boutique consultancy in the North of England. They were the first place I worked at in the South West ecosystem. And what enabled me to get through the roles and work my way up and learn was how supportive they were. They understood that I was fresh out of the Army and I was fresh into the Salesforce ecosystem. So I had a great mentor who taught me how to, start really developing on the Salesforce platform, give me some lower level tasks, some projects to kind of help me bed in, I myself had this determination, this kind of strive and passion. I really immersed myself into Salesforce. I absolutely loved it. And I still do. It’s a, it’s, it’s not just a career and a job. I’m really passionate about it. And I love doing my own thing in my own time as well. And I think that helped me develop myself in my free time. And then I was able to prove myself to Art of Cloud and the managers there that I could do things a little bit higher than maybe the average person and my curve was a lot steeper. So I focused a lot of time and I was well aware that this was a career path now outside of the Army which I thought was going to be my career forever. This was now going to be my career forever in technology, one that I needed to support my family so I really needed to push myself and get myself up to a reasonable standard. So I started taking on more responsibility at Art of Cloud and things changed within the business which meant positions opened up that I could move into, and I thrive under pressure. So if I have loads of time to do something, it’s bad of me but I generally procrastinate. If I’m under pressure and something’s difficult at the same time, that’s fantastic for me because it really pushes me. It’s kind of, maybe that’s my Army mentality, you know, under pressure let’s get things done kind of thing. And that was good because I took on roles that were probably a little bit too senior for me at the time. And I think Art of Cloud probably knew that but understood my personality worked perfectly for that and I could thrive in that environment, learn, develop, and do a good job at doing it. And I think the synergy between them understanding who I was as a person, my passion for the platform and learning and progressing, and that kind of support process through, enabled me to keep that really steep learning curve and achieve what I did in the time that I did it.


Ben (17:30.185)

You weren’t just learning Salesforce, you were straight into consulting as well, right? So like, you know, you had to learn how to deal with customers, how to push back. And obviously you were in a Developer role, so maybe you weren’t, you know, running workshops and stuff like that. But did you, were you also conscious of needing to like, round out, I guess, your soft skills and your, your ability to be in front of a customer, or did they come more naturally than the technical skills?


Jonathan Fox (17:58.486)

Yeah, I think they were not the skills that I worried about focusing on. And that’s probably because of the career I was in before. Because I was in the Military Police, I had to speak to, you know, the private soldiers who maybe had a crime committed against them or had committed a crime. I had to learn how to talk to different people at that level in a different mannerism and a different approach to achieve what I wanted to. I then had to speak to their, you know, high-up officers to tell them about a soldier that had done something, or to tell them they’d done something wrong. And that took a completely different approach because they were a senior officer and everyone in between. That taught me how to deal with different scenarios, different people of different grades and different responsibilities, how to really hold a conversation in a different way, how to approach a conversation or a meeting to achieve what I needed to achieve out of it, how to convince people to do what I needed them to do. And they were skills that I developed whilst in the Army and whilst being in the Police. So I don’t think that was ever a skill that I was too bothered about not having because I think I already naturally had that from my previous role.


Ben (19:09.193)

And do you think that kind of played a part in that, like taking on those more senior roles? It wasn’t just the techs, because you could be put in front of a customer, like you were able to lead those discussions.


Jonathan Fox (19:18.782)

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, if you look at a Junior Developer or a Junior Consultant within your business You probably wouldn’t put them straight away in front of the CTO and you know make them have a discussion about what technology or what route they’re going to go down on a solution. However, somebody who had been in Consultancy for five plus years you might feel more comfortable doing that, now I hadn’t been in a Salesforce Consultancy for five plus years, but I had five plus years of prior experience in a transferable way in the Army so although it wasn’t the direct kind of environment, I definitely had the transferable skills and that was something that really was a key to me getting into the Salesforce ecosystem and then continuing to move up, was understanding my transferable skills and how I could directly map them to what I did as a day job now.


Ben (20:06.965)

So then from Art of Cloud, I think your next move was to Salesforce, was it immediately into Solution Engineering or was that the second role within Salesforce?


Jonathan Fox (20:18.018)

That was the second role within Salesforce. So I started off on the technical architecture team as a Technical Consultant for the customer success group in Salesforce. So effectively what I was doing anyway, but for professional services at Salesforce on customers that decided to go with Salesforce rather than a partner. So it was a new environment, a little bit higher pace, a little bit bigger customers allowed me to continue that growth curve, learn more. I had direct access to other Technical Architects within Salesforce and Product Owners and things like that. So I was able to learn the platform in a way that not everyone can, which was an absolute, you know, gold dust for me. It was great. It was, I loved it. I absorbed as much as I could. But I was able to get a promotion outside of my team if I decided to move into solution engineering. And for me, I thought it was a good move because I’d never been on the pre-sales side of the fence. I hadn’t really been in a sales role. I’d always been technical and it was a promotion, it was good. But it meant that I could add another string to my bow. So that’s why I went into solution engineering as well to support AEs with demos, tailored demos for customers.


Ben (21:32.409)

So for me, it sounds like an awesome role, right? Because you get to speak to lots of different customers, you get to build cool things, you build these demos and showcase what can be done, but then also you don’t necessarily have the stress of delivery.


Jonathan Fox (21:49.503)

Yeah, that’s true.


Ben (21:51.83)

So is it as good as it sounds?


Jonathan Fox (21:55.186)

Yes, if that’s what you enjoy. I do like the demos and I do like talking to people. So it definitely ticked those boxes, but I like to see my plan or what I build, make it all the way through to the people who are going to use it. And I also like to be there throughout that journey, a very technical Architect or very architect-orientated kind of mindset. And though I did enjoy my time in solution engineering, and I did enjoy what I did, there was still that little piece of the puzzle missing that I think I did miss from being on the technical architecture team at Salesforce and being in the consultancy role at Art of Cloud. That’s what I was missing. So it was a great role, great pace, learnt a lot, I got to talk to people, I got to do demos and present, which I love public speaking anyway. But I was just missing that little piece of the puzzle. So I gained some great experience and like I say, another string to my bow, but there was just that little bit missing for me.


Ben (22:49.229)

Had you always loved public speaking?


Jonathan Fox (22:54.668)

Towards the back end of my career in the Army, I think I loved it more. So I ended up being a counter terrorist instructor for when there’s a terrorist attack in the UK, you know, like the London Bridge and things like that where the military is deployed. The situation that they deployed, the actions they do are the things that I went around bases within the UK and taught the soldiers how to do. So I really enjoyed that kind of teaching, that instructing side of things, which often when I’m public speaking, you know, like a Dreamforce, when I did my demo in 2022, although it’s public speaking and presenting, I’m teaching a topic and I really like that instructional and teaching side of things. So yeah, back end of that career and then taking it into the Salesforce world was perfect because I got to talk technical and teach people.


Ben (23:44.273)

Isn’t it interesting that realistically you had the perfect skill set to want to come and work in the Salesforce ecosystem? Obviously not everyone would have had the passion for development that you found, but I know there’s obviously Vetforce, bigger in the UK and the US than it is here in Australia. I know there is an exercise here and some work that goes on in that space, but outside of that, probably most people when they’re hiring for a role, they wouldn’t naturally think, I’m going to hire someone out of the Army to come and work in the Salesforce ecosystem. But you’re just an example of actually thinking outside the box and looking at those transferable skill sets that might not be obvious to everyone. But if you really think about it, like what, if you can, if you can find passion in someone and they can communicate well and they’re, you know, they’re confident in front of people, like you can learn Salesforce, right? Like that’s, I think the key message from today.


Jonathan Fox (24:38.954)

Yeah, absolutely, and I think the mission is still there for me, but it was a mission and a crusade that I went on massively at the beginning of my career, was to help explain that to both candidates and employers, and to recruiters to some degree that didn’t understand it, because not everyone does, that you can’t teach that passion and that desire and that drive. But you can teach those technical skills. So if you can get someone who has those skills, you know, the passion to drive and the desire to learn, then you’ve got a great candidate who you can mold into the position that you need, as long as they want to go that direction. I didn’t have those technical skills, or I started teaching myself them, but I didn’t have them concreted. But I had all that passion, that drive, that determination, which allowed, you know, the CTO at Art of Cloud to help teach me and mold me into the right type of Developer. And I think that’s what’s really key is as long as you can see that they have those transferable skills and they have that passion, well then fantastic, you’ve got the perfect candidate there already.


Ben (25:47.873)

100%. And talking of learning skills and continually learning skills, over the last couple of years, you’ve moved into a Technical Architect role. So you’d gone from development, senior development, technical consultant with Salesforce, pre-sales and a Solution Engineer, and then technical architecture. So what did you need to learn to be a good Technical Architect that you didn’t know as a Developer?


Jonathan Fox (26:12.526)

The holistic overview of everything else that’s going on around you and I think that taking that step back looking at the situation, thinking about all the different possibilities, it comes with the experience that I gained throughout the other roles, it’s not something that you can necessarily learn. I don’t think and I think probably most architects would agree with that, understanding how what you decide to do on the solution here and now could have a knock-on effect with x y and z and It’s about knowing x y and z through trial and error, through encountering all the projects, through experience that you can actually effectively carry out the roles and the responsibilities of an Architect. I enjoy the high-level thinking, the design aspects of it, the different nuances that you come across in the platform, that’s what really interests me and excites me. Don’t get me wrong, I love developing and love tinkering with code and picking up tickets and building things. But the high level solution that I can see from conception all the way to production. I love that.


Ben (27:19.129)

So obviously it comes with experience and it’s a certain way of thinking, but can a Developer take certain steps to, in your opinion, are there things someone can do to start preparing for that step? Are there resources, materials, things out there that people could look at?


Jonathan Fox (27:38.154)

There’s an element of natural progression if you want it as a Developer to go through to being a Senior Developer, and then there are aspects of being a Senior Developer where you have to do some of the low-level design or slightly high-level design of a particular feature or functionality that you know, the Architect’s giving you the overall plans. But you might need to do the design of the nuances and it’s at that point where you can start really nurturing your skills and pushing the boundaries a little bit more and maybe suggesting different angles to go down to the Architect where you can start stepping over that line a little bit and becoming an Architect. I think there’s a bit of a natural progression there and it’s both consultants as well you know Solution Consultants into Solution Architects or even Technical Architects, that kind of thing. There’s definitely some natural progression there if you want it. The best thing I can say in terms of resources is experience on those projects shadowing those Technical or Solution Architects. Shadowing is the best way to get that experience but it is absolutely a valuable piece of advice is just building it out in your own Developer org or you know spinning up a Google cloud and trying to integrate it and do weird wonderful things, because it’s not until then when you start building something out that you realize the intricacies and the pitfalls and things like that. I do think it is massively experience driven whether that’s practicing in your own time or it’s shadowing someone but there is that natural progression. And then recently in the last couple years there’s been the website that has so much for Architects now, you know Admins and Developers had it for a while, Architects now have a resource where they can learn different architecture patterns and different architecture principles to help them plan things out. So if you’re not an Architect, but you want to understand how to do a well architected solution, you can start digging into those principles already and really thinking about them even if you don’t get to design them yourself. So there are resources out there but experience is a big player.


Ben (29:44.547)

Yeah, for sure. Interestingly, I see a massive gap in the market for people that have got to that Technical Lead level and then decide to go down the Development Manager or like Head of Engineering path in the Salesforce world. And I think the CTA has got a big part in that. Did you ever consider that route? I appreciate now, you know, that architecture is something you want to do and you enjoy it, but did you ever think, right, I might go down the technical management path?


Jonathan Fox (30:17.414)

Yeah, I think most consultancies, most companies, as soon as you get into the Technical Architecture role or the Senior Developer role, you end up leading teams of Developers or teams of Architects and you end up becoming those Technical Managers anyway. And I know that puts off a lot of people because they just want to do the thing that they’re passionate about and it ends up being a kind of byproduct of that progression is starting to manage. I think again that’s part of the natural progression of those roles. I would say though that if it’s something that you really enjoy, you try and hold on to it for as long as you can and get as much experience as you can before you move into those positions, because there’s a lot of pressure in those positions. People are then looking at you for the answers, and that’s great if that’s something that you enjoy but you’re ending up being less about the work and more about the managing people. Now there are definitely people out there, and I’d probably say myself at some point in the future, because I enjoy that managerial team management team structure kind of thing, again probably back from my Army career as a Corporal in the army that kind of leadership role, I enjoy that, it’s not for everyone so it’s I would definitely say think about your career path think about where you want to be and there’s nothing wrong with stopping at a certain point because that’s maybe the sweet spot for you and the higher progressions come later in life when you know you want to dial things down a little bit and move away from the hands-on and get more into the managerial stuff.


Ben (31:45.021)

Yeah, it’s interesting because I speak to a lot of people that their first question is like, “how many projects will I work across?” You know, like they don’t want that management side because they feel it will weigh them down if they are looking to become a CTA. So, yeah, I just wondered if it’s something that you’d got to that kind of crossroad and thought, “right, I need to go one way or the other”, especially with the soft skills that you have. But yeah, who knows what the future holds, I guess. So final question is for anyone that’s at the beginning of their journey, their day one, just resigned, could be the Army, could be any kind of non-Salesforce career, and they’re daunted by what’s ahead of them, which I’m sure you were when you decided on the Salesforce platform. What’s your top tip for anyone in that situation?


Jonathan Fox (32:32.81)

So as much as I would say, hammer the Trailheads, get onto the resources and start learning those technical skills. That actually probably isn’t the best piece of advice I can give. The best piece of advice I can give is looking at the ecosystem you’re going to join. So in this case, the Salesforce ecosystem, and start networking with people because it’s not until you have conversations like with yourself Ben, that I wouldn’t ever have been on this podcast if we hadn’t come across each other and started talking and networking and things like that. And it’s a great opportunity for me to share this. Networking was at the core of it and some of the opportunities I’ve had in the Salesforce ecosystem, some of the roles that I’ve managed to gain were probably because of the network I had or at least the personal branding and social presence I had to be able to say, “hey look, this is who I am, I’m here” kind of thing. So I would say networking is a huge thing for learning because you learn so much from other Salesforce professionals. Salesforce is a great place to share. You know, the Trailblazer community, people share knowledge all the time. It doesn’t matter if you’re part of a competitive consultancy or not. People share that knowledge and help each other out. It’s a beautiful place to be. So networking in the community for learning, networking with employers and recruiters to find those next opportunities, but doing it in a selfless way, where you’re not aiming to gain something out of it but you’re just aiming to gain a strong friendship and a strong network that’s definitely the advice I would give.


Ben (34:02.337)

Yeah, which I think is actually doing that led you to start a user group, right?


Jonathan Fox (34:07.518)

Indeed, that was at the very beginning of my career. I realized that I didn’t have the easy access to a network in my local area. So, “hey, why not start one and get people together?” And it wasn’t because I knew anything about Salesforce. I didn’t, it was right at the beginning of my career. But if I could get people together who could share with each other, I could learn too at the same time, as well as getting to know these wonderful people and making a connection with people that I hoped and I absolutely have done, stayed in contact with throughout the whole of my career so far.


Ben (34:38.165)

Yeah, awesome. And I’m guessing there are no regrets about the path you decided to follow.


Jonathan Fox (34:43.706)

None at all. The Salesforce ecosystem is wonderful. There are so many opportunities from being on the Salesforce platform, all the way to working with Salesforce, but now with AI and things like that, there are so many opportunities from end user to consultancy and ISV or even working at Salesforce. It’s a wonderful place and I thoroughly enjoy working in this ecosystem because of the people and because of the community.


Ben (35:06.421)

And also I think it’s important to add, it is one of those careers where you do get to spend time with family and you know, you’ve been able to achieve what you wanted to leave the Army for, right? So that’s important as well.


Jonathan Fox (35:19.762)

Yeah, I mean, look, we’re both sat at home today doing this virtually. I’m going to be working after this podcast, you know, doing my job. And I’m able to be at home, see my little girl when she gets home, help with cooking the tea because I don’t have to travel and commute. Now, not every role is remote and you can’t expect that, especially now we’re out the other side of COVID and everything else, but there are definitely more opportunities now to be remote work from home and get a better quality of life and a better work life balance. It’s the beauty of technology, but the Salesforce ecosystem really adopted that well and I think that is something that I am very grateful for working in this ecosystem is that I get a better work-life balance now.


Ben (35:59.733)

Yeah, awesome. Well, thank you so much. I’ve really enjoyed the chat. And if any of our listeners want to reach out, pick your brains, ask any questions, where’s the best place to find you?


Jonathan Fox (36:09.638)

Twitter and LinkedIn or X and LinkedIn is definitely the best places to reach out to me, drop me a message, I’m always there for a chat. I love talking to people


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