Trailhead Takes It to the Beach

Written by Martin Gessner

First Down Under

The first Australian Trailhead Bootcamp was held from July 22 - July 25 at the Gold Coast in sunny Queensland. For people attending from the southern states of Australia, it was a welcome break from the cooler temperatures to the warmer blue skies of the sunshine state for 4 days of non-stop Salesforce learning! The Trailhead Bootcamp is unique in that it combines expert-led training, onsite help from instructors and fellow attendees within specialized study groups, networking opportunities, and two chances to obtain Salesforce certifications all in one event. Focus on Force just couldn’t miss it for the world, so a delegation of four members from our team flew to the Gold Coast for the week.

As is usual for Salesforce events, it was very well-organized right from the registration process. There was no shortage of signages to make sure no one got lost; guides are positioned everywhere, to help you find your way. There is so much going on, but because it was well-planned, it was easy to take in.  The registration process was quick and efficient and was a great start to the event on Sunday afternoon.

Of course it wouldn’t be a Salesforce event without the swag!

You couldn’t forget that you were at a Salesforce event, with the gratitude tree!

A campfire inside the venue, for that ultimate Trailhead feel

Starting Strong

A participant can choose from one of six tracks including Administrator, Platform Developer, Marketing Cloud Email Marketer, Pardot Digital Marketer, Application Architect, and System Architect. For most of the day, you’d be spending time with your instructor and group in your chosen track room.

After completing the registration on Sunday afternoon, the event officially started on Monday morning with a Salesforce exam! The first chance to take an exam is set at the start of the Bootcamp, and the second chance comes on Thursday, towards the end of the event. So much learning is expected to happen in between the two exams, you can actually take the same exam twice if you didn’t pass the first try. This would be a great measure of how much you learned during the entire event. My plan was to take the Integration Architecture exam first and then Identity and Access Management if I passed Integration Architecture. It would appear I was pushing my luck but then I took into consideration that I have had experience working as a solution architect. Having worked on projects and environments that had various types of integrations, the topics were familiar to me and actually one of my preferred subject areas. On the other hand, with limited time to do the pre-work and study time prior to the exam, I wasn’t sure how well I would go. It’s one thing to be mentally prepared and another to be psychologically prepared for it. Confidence is key: you have to believe you can do it - or else you won’t.

It’s one thing to be mentally prepared, and another to be psychologically prepared for it. Confidence is key - you have to believe you can do it - or else you won’t.


After almost 2 hours, I was glad to find that I managed to pass the exam. As I anticipated, a good result would factor in the combination of my previous project experience, pre-work, and study. I was just really glad I made it (and lived to write about it).


Once the exam was over, it was time to start the learning. In the System Architect track, we had an incredible instructor, Amit Malik, who challenged us to go beyond the technical details and really understand the application of what we are learning. He encouraged participation from the group to discuss real-life scenarios and adopt an architect mindset. He likened being an IT architect to being a doctor who must ask the right questions and develop appropriate solutions.

The first part of the System Architect track was all about Integration Architecture. Even though I had passed the exam, I was still learning from Amit and others that contributed to the discussions. We used the Workbench, Postman and the SOAPUI tools to try examples and, when successful, help others in the group. Ohana culture was apparent all throughout. For the rest of the day, we would be learning in our respective breakup session and end the day with a certification study hall.


Tuesday was the same, except we had an excuse to take a break from studying and party that evening. It was a great opportunity to meet all the participants and hear their Salesforce stories. As usual Salesforce put on a great party enjoyed by all with good food, music, great people and even some fire twirling entertainment!

On Wednesday, we also had opportunities to talk about wider architectural topics, such as representing application landscapes. A CTA special guest joined us for this discussion and explained an application landscape from a project that he was working on. A couple of volunteers from the class also got to try their hand at explaining an application landscape under time pressure. This was just a small taste of the skills required and expected for those going in front of the CTA review board.

Pushing Forward

After Integration Architecture, the second focus of the week was Access and Identity Management. Just the mention of this topic tends to make people nervous as it is known as the most difficult certification to pass. It requires knowledge of a range of access and identity management topics including identity providers, service providers, connected apps, oAuth flows, two-factor authentication, community identity management options, and Salesforce Identity. Certification aside, I was really looking forward to digging into the details of all of these topics. As organizations move more and more of the application landscape to the cloud, providing a simple and efficient solution for users and applications to authenticate and authorize is important. 

Even though I had project experience as a solution architect where I needed to consider access and identity management as part of a solution, I had not gone into the level of detail we were to cover here.

Our instructor patiently explained and went over and over the topics until the class understood them. One example is oAuth flows, as seen below where an example was walked through on a whiteboard.

At the end of the week, here is the group of people in the System Architect track that made the days of learning valuable, sharing their experiences and learning from each other.

To cap off the Bootcamp, there was the second opportunity to take a certification exam. For those that were not successful the first time around, many found success this time, as they used their new-found knowledge from the days prior. Having passed the Integration Architecture Exam on Monday, I went ahead and took the Identity and Access Management exam. With the concepts freshly explained and understood, I was able to pass! This one was the last in the System Architect side of the pyramid for me and so I received a bonus — getting certified as System Architect.

With Ben Duncombe from Talent Hub (left), who also braved a certification exam and succeeded 

It was an awesome experience. Having been in this industry for quite a while and spending each day helping other people learn Salesforce online at Focus on Force, I was inspired at the learning taking place in these four short days. Add to that, I had the best of time meeting and learning from the other participants. After the event, with a week of learning behind us — new friends and new experiences — it was time to say farewell to the golden beaches of the Gold Coast and blaze new trails back at home.