I’m the (Kevin) Bacon of the Salesforce Community – Introducing Launa Saunders

This is the forty-sixth post in my blog series in which I feature people I know from the community: Salesforce employees, MVPs, User Group Leaders, Partners, and honestly, anyone who I’m connected with who is willing to share with me the answers to five simple questions. I hoping that this blog series will help everyone out in the community get better connected to others who are either like them, can help them, are nothing like them, can’t help them, or are simply people they haven’t met yet! After all, a stranger is simply a friend you don’t know yet.

For me, one of the greatest strengths of the Salesforce Ecosystem is its people and the connections that are shared.

So, if you are brave enough, even if you’ve never met me in person, fill out this form and I’ll feature you in an upcoming post. (In case I have confused anyone, the questions on the form about our relationship refers to you, the reader, and me, the author, Eric Dreshfield, and not the featured person in this post.) Just beware, by completing the form, you are giving me permission to use that information in a future post, as well as allowing me to interject some of my own thoughts into your responses!

And now I introduce the co-leader of the San Diego Salesforce User Group, and Salesforce MVP, Launa Saunders.

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What’s your job title? Manager, Sales Operations, Illumina, Inc. (EFD – I had to look up Illumina…I knew you worked there, but really didn’t know much about the company. According to their website: “Today we are a global leader in genomics – an industry at the intersection of biology and technology. At the most fundamental level, we enable our customers to read and understand genetic variations. We strive to make our solutions increasingly simple, more accessible, and always reliable. As a result, discoveries that were unimaginable even a few years ago are now becoming routine – and are making their way into patient treatment.” I’m still not sure what the company does! It’s a biotechnology firm.)

What does that mean you do? Currently my focus is on the strategy of our CRM from the technical perspective. When I first started at Illumina, I was a Sr. Business Analyst in the GIS department. Now that I am in Sales Operations I am able to tie the needs of the business to the IT infrastructure. (I speak in Salesforce talk to our Admins: “WFR”, “FLS”, etc. oh yeah, and “LOL”). (EFD – I bet sometimes your Salesforce Admins and users make you also say “WTF”, and then you reach for a drink! #WhyAdminsDrink)

How long have you been involved with Salesforce.com (as a customer and/or an employee)? I have been managing Salesforce systems since 2007. I started off as an Administrative Assistant responsible for running the department metrics, out of Salesforce. When I started (at this particular company) every employee was assigned the Admin profile, and had the ability to change layouts, fields, etc. I couldn’t run metrics successfully since we would come in and find that someone had changed a picklist value the night before, or removed a field altogether. I became a member of the Salesforce Community and eventually taught myself Salesforce through trial and error (and a little help from SteveMo of course). Eventually I submitted a project plan to revamp Salesforce, including removing everyone’s admin rights. Since then I have worked in multiple orgs with various titles, but it always comes back to the strategy and improving adoption.  (EFD – Ouch! “every employee was assigned the Admin profile” Yeah…that’s calls for another drink! #WhyAdminsDrink)

Bacon or sausage? Eww…a pork product? No thank you!

What’s more important: Who you know, or what you know? It’s definitely who you know, the community proves that! I don’t have to be an expert on everything Salesforce, but if I go to the community, I know someone will be and I can reach out to them with questions, advice, etc., I can then pay it forward and share my knowledge. It’s what makes the world go ’round (plus I like to avoid being a “jack of all trades, master of none”. The community is my Rolodex of experts to reach out to when the time comes) (EFD – Ooo…Love that: “The community is my Rolodex of experts.” WOW!)

How did our relationship start, and when? Well, we are both UG leaders, and inducted as MVPs at the same time (Spring ’13), so that’s when it started. But you were the first MVP that I had a beer with at the first MVP Summit in 2013, so you were the “welcome wagon” of sorts.  (EFD – A fellow user group leader and an MVP class mate…or is that glass mate?  Either way, it’s been great knowing you since 2013!)

And now the bonus question – What’s one fact about you that few people know, that will surprise me and my blog readers? While raised in San Diego, I wasn’t born here. I’m actually from a small farming community in central California. My family is still there. We have a massive ranch there where I learned to farm, shoot, raise bees, you name it! My Dad taught me to live off the land if need be, so he keeps me grounded. I love the beaches and sun in San Diego, but nothing beats a campfire in the middle of nowhere underneath a million stars. (EFD – I live out in a rural part of Southern Indiana, after growing up and living most of my life in suburban areas near large cities. I really like being able to go outside at night, look up and see millions of stars! I totally agree with that!)

You can find Launa on Twitter.

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