Focused and Certified: Alex Paul — From Web Developer To 3X Certified Salesforce Team Lead

Salesforce Team Lead Alex Paul

Alex Paul is a Salesforce Team Lead for the Wursta Corporation. He started his career as a web developer for an agency where he helped code WordPress websites — transforming them from a PSD web template, to fully-fledged, dynamic sites. He eventually got promoted to CRM Team Lead, and eventually, Salesforce Team Lead. Today, Alex is 3X Salesforce certified, and shares with Focus on Force what a typical working day for him is like, how having practical experience is as crucial as being certified, and even gives some useful tips for those preparing for a Salesforce certification exam.

I’m Alex Paul. I'm a Salesforce Team Lead for the Wursta Corporation.

How did you get started with Salesforce?

I was doing front-end and a bit of back-end web development at the previous company I worked for. One day, my former boss Ryan got approached by somebody who was working for Salesforce, and he was like ‘Oh, nice. You’re in marketing; you’re doing websites. Have you heard about Salesforce? Are you interested in the ecosystem?’ He started looking into it and was like, ‘Hey. Would you be interested in learning this?’ And I started doing that.

I started learning more and more about Salesforce. Googled it a lot. Found out about Trailhead. Eventually, it got to the point where I had to get certified and I was like ‘Okay. I need some resources.’ I’ve never been through a certification before. Focus on Force was the answer for me and it helped me a lot. So even just by going through Trailhead and using Focus on Force was a real help for me in the certification process.

What were your goals when you were starting and how did you keep motivated?

Well, I had the privilege of studying something that I really wanted to learn. So the idea was to shift a bit from the model that we had before with WordPress and websites.

I liked the fact that I could do a bunch of stuff in Salesforce even without knowing how to code. And if I wanted to learn how to code or if I wanted to learn anything, I could just go on the forums and get an answer in a day or two. So that was really nice. I think I just liked the ecosystem and how it worked.

As for motivation — it was more about ‘I want to learn this so we can start building a team, helping others learn about Salesforce, and help clients with Salesforce issues.’

Did obtaining your 3 certifications make a positive impact in your career?

Experience is as important as being certified. You can have a certification and it surely gets your foot in the door, but eventually, everybody's going to look at your experience. It doesn't really help when you just learn the certification, get it, and then you have no practical experience in solving issues.

You can have a certification and it surely gets your foot in the door, but eventually, everybody's going to look at your experience. 

What was the most challenging certification exam for you?

The first one (Admin) was because I didn't know what to expect and I didn't know how hard it would be. I got it on the first try, so I was fortunate enough in that regard. And I think that gave me even more confidence for the rest of them.

Even now, I’m thinking of getting the Platform App Builder. I'm confident that I'm going to be able to get the certification when the time comes as Focus on Force will definitely help me with studying for the exam. But again, if you have the experience it makes everything easier.

What is a day in the life of a Salesforce Team Lead like?

I get up. I look at everything that the team is currently involved in — assessing the priorities that need to be accomplished for that day. I then have a daily stand-up with my team to see if they have any blockers, and to see if I can help with any of those. If they need anything from the clients, I'll go and smooth everything over. Then I start responding to emails. 

If there are any Zoom calls, I try to put them at the end of the day because I'm in Romania and most of the clients that I work with are either in the U.S. or somewhere more western than I am. It’s usually when their morning starts and my day ends so it's a good overlap for calls.

From time to time, I’ll also have introductory calls with new clients to understand what their issues are, how we can help them, and put together the work that we need to do for them.

For what certification did you use Focus on Force for and would you say it was helpful?

I used Focus on Force for the Admin, Nonprofit Cloud, and Experience Cloud consultant certifications. It was very helpful especially for the Admin one because it provides a good structure.

Focus on Force is by no means an exam dump type of thing. It's something that's really thought through by somebody who went through the process.

I bought the full package — the study guide as well as the practice exams. They're looking for you to understand the issues first so there's going to be some tricky questions there. It helps to let you know what to expect and what to study for and it surely helped me a lot.

Would you say that having good communication skills is helpful towards the professional life of a Salesforce Team Lead?

Communication skills are very important and learning how to really listen to others is very important as well. It helps in the client-facing stuff and it helps when you're a team lead. It’s very helpful to know how to understand others so you can empathize with your client and really get to the core of the issues.

Learning how to really listen to others is very important… Understand others so you can empathize with your client and really get to the core of the issues. 

What advice would you give someone who is preparing for a Salesforce certification exam?

I would advise them to start with Focus on Force. Get the full package of the study guide and the practice exams. Get started on the materials, and as you work your way through — you’ll encounter errors and make mistakes. Work through them. Have another go until you get a better percentage. I approach exams like a programmer would. This is the same thing that you would do if you would write code for something. (Laughs) 

What Certification are you studying for now?

Focus on Force currently provides practice exams and study guides for ten certifications