Frédérique Mounier quit working for 4 years to be a stay-at-home-mom. When she decided to go back to work, she discovered Salesforce through a program directed specifically towards women wanting to get back into the workforce.
Amidst a busy schedule (to keep up her thriving family life), she gained 4 certifications in her first 7 months of working on Salesforce. Read the story of how she achieved this superhuman (or should we say supermom) feat and how she's enjoying her 'comeback' into a whole new career.
My name is Frédérique Mounier, I live in France. I am currently a Business Analyst. Before being a Business Consultant I used to work in Communications. I had a child so I paused for 4 years and I took care of her. When I knew that it was time to go back to work, I decided to shift to digital. First I got interested in everything Google, then everything SEO, and, when I got the opportunity to enter formation kind of school to learn Salesforce, I applied and I was lucky enough to get in. The goal of this program was to get to learn Salesforce and to get the first certification, the Administrator Certification, which I did.
What were your goals when starting and how did you keep motivated?
I attended a program which was directed to women who were thinking of going back to the workforce. Presenters were Salesforce people and they taught the different things you can do with Salesforce. I decided to go with Administrator first. So the program was 12 weeks long, and the aim of the program was to be a certified administrator. So that was the first step. Right after the program ended, I was hired in the company I currently work in. I worked there for 5 months as an administrator and then I was sent on a mission with a client and now I am a business analyst.
What made me want to learn everything about Salesforce was Trailhead. You can see my badge counts in Trailhead, 282 I guess today. I loved the spirit, I loved how they interact as a community, how they want us to have all the tools to move on with our careers and learn and keep on learning. This is a very good fit with my personality because I am very curious and almost everything I wanted to learn is in Trailhead. It helped me to be certified, and it let me work through more certifications also. I thought if I earned more certifications, I’ll get a job, I would stay relevant in my career because I have the certification to say that I have kept on learning.
"I thought if I earned more certifications, I’ll get a job, I would stay relevant in my career because I have certification to say that I have kept on learning."
What was the most challenging part of learning Salesforce?
I guess it was the fact that I was changing careers and was learning something completely new. It was a fact that the program was directed to people with a can-do attitude, so even if I had situational classes with people who taught me Salesforce, there’s a lot of personal work to do. Right from the start, I had to face problems and solve them on my own. That was very challenging at first but what kept me going was that we got in touch with the community really fast. We learned to look for any answers to our problems in the community, in the group, and on the internet. We learned pretty fast on how not to stay stuck with your problem. So the big hurdle became an advantage because, right now even if it is only 7 months of experience with Salesforce, I know how not to stay stuck with a problem. If I don’t find a solution, I should ask someone else, the team I am working with in France, the Salesforce community or other sites, like Focus on Force.
Do you currently have a certification? How did obtaining this certification impact your career?
I currently hold Certified Administrator, Certified Advanced Administrator, Platform App Builder, and Salesforce Sales Consultant. I’m currently working on Platform Developer 1 preparation.
Impact was very personal. First of all, it made me very sure that I wanted to work with Salesforce and move on with Salesforce. I am the one who keeps learning and searching for the answer – whether it’s about a problem or certification – and never let go until I get the answer. You have to be prepared to get the trust of colleagues and clients, and it reassures the clients. When I apply to be on the team, they say that I don’t have much experience, but [they will see] I am a quick learner because in 7 months, I gained 4 certifications. They know I’ll be able to adapt and provide the best services possible.
"When I apply to be on the team, they may say that I don’t have much experience, but [they will see] I am a quick learner because in 7 months, I gained 4 certifications."
What is your advice regarding certification and how to study for the exams?
What works for me is Trailhead, Focus on Force, and getting my hands on the product.
When I was preparing for App Builder, I was working almost everyday on the App Builder part of Salesforce. I went in Salesforce and put my hands on it. I train on Trailhead whenever there is a Trailhead module. I train on Salesforce almost everyday to get hands-on experience. If there’s something I don’t understand, I go to Salesforce Help. I try to be merciless with everything I feel I don’t understand or everything I feel I haven’t made my own. So for me, Process Builders and Flows were very difficult to get because I come from a non-technical background. My solution was that, "Ok, flows are difficult for me, I’m going to do 20 of them." I want to understand them fully and that is how I prepare.
I passed the Certified Administrator on the first go. I tried Advanced Administrator twice and passed the second time. I passed App Builder the first time. I failed Sales Consultant on the first go, but I was sure it was an accident so I tried it 48 hours later and I got it. What I learned from this experience is failing your certification is absolutely not a big deal. You just need to know you’ve been working very well and you were just annoyed by some noise and you needed to focus on the certification.
The most important thing is, when you fail, you need to identify where you need to work on and get back to Trailhead. Failing a certification only means you are not ready yet; that doesn’t mean you will never pass the certification. So the first time I failed Advanced Administrator, I was really upset; I had worked so hard for this exam and it wasn’t a success. It took me two days to realize that it is not a dead end, and I went back to studying and I studied even more. The second time I took the exam went by like a breeze. So failing is a part of the journey and David Liu himself said that he failed 14 times – yes, 14 times! So if David Liu has failed 14 times to pass certification, him being David Liu at Google, I mean that’s not a big deal. You just have to get back to it and work a little more.
"Failing a certification only means you are not ready yet; that doesn’t mean you will never pass the certification."
You got 4 certifications in 7 months, how did you manage that with your busy schedule?
I tried to study everyday for at least 20 minutes. It is not 2 hours everyday, it’s 20 minutes everyday, everyday, everyday.
If I don’t have time and I have only 20 minutes, I’ll take the question bank exams on Focus on Force. If I have more time, I will study the guide that provides practical exercises. If I have even more time, I will go on Trailhead. However, I don’t push myself to do big blocks because that’s not sustainable. I need to be able to fit small blocks of working in my day. So the schedule would be to put 20 minutes in the morning because I wake up early during the day. I put 20 minutes in the morning before my husband and my daughters are awake. I start my day knowing that I have studied. If I have time after lunch, I push another 20 minutes and it makes me happy that I have pushed 40 minutes of studying in my day. If I’m having a really quiet day, I will again push 20-25 minutes at a time.
This is how I work around my schedule. I also try to leverage everything I touch at work, and I also ask my colleagues about all the questions I think about. I am really lucky to have colleagues who are willing and happy to answer my questions. So during my workday, I do not stop learning. I try to learn with everyone and in every situation.
"I put 20 minutes in the morning before my husband, and my daughters are awake. So I start my day knowing that I have studied."
What advice would you have for people wanting to start with Salesforce?
For people who want to start in Salesforce, I always tell them to go to Trailhead because the beginner Trailmixes gives you a good feel of what Salesforce is, what the community is, what the mindset is, and actually helps you get your hands-on experience in Salesforce. It helps people who do not have the technical background to see whether they like it.
For people who want to move forward with their careers – from what I have seen from a few colleagues – they don’t like to go for certifications because they think that it can be too much work or because they think they won’t pass. I think it’s just a change of mindset. Going for a certification is a good way to show how motivated you are to go on with your career and you are not afraid of putting in work to reach the next step. I know most of the time it sounds cheesy, but just check and see what you want to be certified in and just start! For me, the certification itself is not the goal. The goal is what you will learn in the journey and how a well-rounded Salesforce professional it will make you.
What is your biggest takeaway from this Salesforce journey?
As a mom, it allows me to show my daughter that failing is not a big deal. What’s important is to get back up and trying again. That’s the first thing. As a professional, it gives me a better understanding of what Salesforce is and what Salesforce can do for the clients. Actually, the more I learn, the more I want to keep on learning and doing more things. So I’m quite a learning geek actually; getting certification helps me to satisfy that. Each time I get a certification, I get a sense of pride but also a sense of “Okay, this is done. What is next?”
"For me, the certification itself is not the goal. The goal is what you will learn in the journey and how a well-rounded Salesforce professional it will make you."
What Certification are you studying for now?
Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for fifteen certifications