For many companies, 'work' has looked very different this year due to the impact of…
Have you ever wondered what life is like as a consultant working with Salesforce day in and day out? Are you looking for a team of people who are also obsessed with Salesforce (and not afraid to admit it)? Have you been enjoying working in fuzzy slippers over the past year and you’d like to work from home every day in a fully virtual company? Wonder no more – the “Life at Gears” series features our employees talking about a typical day-in-the-life at Gears, explaining their roles and showing off their home office spaces.
If you haven’t heard, Gears is growing in 2021, and we are currently hiring for multiple positions. We have an amazing team at Gears, and what better way to showcase these individuals, and the variety of roles at Gears, than to let our employees share their stories themselves? The series continues with Ian Cruzen, Integration Specialist.
What is your role at Gears?
I take the impossible and make it possible.
I have been told on a number of occasions at other companies that what I do is “just data” which always boggled my mind. What I found in kindred spirits here – most notably Paulomi Gudka – is that like a car needs gas, Salesforce needs data. And if you don’t do the data right, your organization will sputter. In most of my projects, I transform the data from what companies “used to have” into what it “needs to be.” I am usually on the front line evaluating the source data from the client, working with the Senior Consultants in making sure the Salesforce objects/fields are properly designed, and ensuring the data is properly mapped and transformed. Besides my general role of making a square peg fit into a round hole, I do have some areas of specific interest that I gravitate to and am a subject matter expert on – Knowledge and Content Documents. It is a not well-documented area for Salesforce historically and I find it fascinating. There are a lot of nuances there. So if you have questions, let ‘em rip!
What does a typical day look like for you?
Our resource calendar highlights what is on tap for me. While I’m aware of my current week’s projects, it is nice to also have visibility into what is coming. With coffee in hand, I jump into Slack to check any messages I may have missed, and try to resolve any “fires”. I find it helpful to stay on one project at a time without switching to other projects so that I don’t shift my focus back and forth. It also helps with recording how much time I spend on a given task. I try to have everything noted in my calendar because it helps define my day and also is a way of looking back at what I have had on tap when I’m doing my timesheet at end of the day. Pro tip: You REALLY should get in habit of logging time daily. If you try to remember all the little side meetings and small tasks you will forget something and in our case – time is literally money.
I have 2-3 meetings per day on average. Not only do these keep projects on track, but it gives me an opportunity to check in with my colleagues so I don’t ever feel like I am all alone when working from home. Beyond that, we have a number of fun Slack channels such as cats, random, jokes which all serve to not only be a nice “water cooler break” but also a way to connect with other Gearys and get to know them and their sense of humor. Side note: My colleague Paul Danek was pinging me for a Powerpoint slide on “who is Ian Cruzen” and I didn’t respond immediately. So he had a good laugh and said that I “enjoyed falconing,” which was a funny throwback to “The Falconer” on Saturday Night Live. So now my Slack photo alternates between “The Falconer” and my normal business pic. Gears is a pretty fun group of people who don’t take themselves too seriously, but do take the work seriously.
What’s been your most interesting project so far?
One thing to know about me is that when a client says something is “impossible”, that is a challenge to me. Recently, we were told by a client that their core knowledge database stored in eGain would have to be “manually” recreated into a new instance of eGain since their data was old and in an aging platform. The client estimated that literally thousands of articles and images would have to be manually migrated, which was one of the deciding factors for their move to Salesforce. I performed an initial assessment and believed that it would be possible, which was I think shocking to them. We were able to secure the eGain database in SQL format, however, we were provided extremely limited guidance on how the data was configured and where the key elements were stored. After analyzing the database and once I got the data into a workable structure that made sense, I worked with the SC (Senior Consultant) and with the client contact to get to the right data. I then was able to transform all of the embedded images and links into Salesforce standard fields and provided some cleanup on the HTML as well since the eGain data was in an… let’s call it interesting… format. I love it when people say something can’t be done and then surprising them with successful transformation. It’s honestly one of my biggest nerdy thrills.
How has Gears helped you in your career development?
I have been able to have great exposure to new Salesforce objects and functionality. I loved that I was involved in one of the very first “Field Service” projects with Salesforce (first Field Service Lightning, now called Salesforce Field Service). That was very very cool, and that is really because Gears is trusted to “figure out” a lot of functionality and best practice when the new feature provided by Salesforce is on the bleeding edge. That is really awesome. We are doing that right now also with the relatively new “Order Management” objects. Add to that the fact that I am trusted to be part of developing our standards and best practices, and it is empowering.
What is your favorite thing about working for Gears?
Does it have to be one thing? I’m going to say… first it’s the type of people that Gears has hired. We are all similar in nature and there are no assholes. The fact that I can say there are no assholes is not something I normally would say in a corporate post, but Harry would probably be the first also to say that we don’t hire assholes. That leads to my second favorite thing, I love the support from leadership and I appreciate the directness. There is very little filter and a lack of typical “corporate-speak” which is refreshing. The transparency of the numbers so we all know how the business is doing is great as well. When 2020 hit with all of its bizarre weirdness and uncertainty, I was certain of one thing – we would all swim together. No one left behind. Due to the uncertainty of the madness swirling around, we didn’t take any chances and we had decisive action from the leadership at the very top. We didn’t cut headcount. We shared the financial impact across everyone including management. That was amazing to watch and even as I write this, it makes me a bit emotional because Harry recognized that we were all truly family at this point. You don’t get that at many companies. I have seen cold and calculating and that is the opposite of what we have here at Gears.
When you’re not on the clock, how do you spend your time?
My wife Kathie and I recently adopted an 11 year old boy, Aiden. We have 3 older children all in college, so it’s been a bit of a shock to the system to go back to having a 11 year old. I am getting acquainted with Fornite and Beyblades and it’s like getting onto a freeway and immediately going 0 to 60, and weaving in and out of traffic without the benefit of a merge lane. I will say though on a funny note… I am indeed improving my Fortnite play and look forward to gaming again. It is definitely keeping me young, but yowzahs!
If you were trapped on a deserted island, what one thing would you want to bring with you?
I assume that you mean besides my wife, food, and a boat… 😊 I would have to say that I love music and I would need to have an iPod with all Big Country albums. I am a huge Big Country fan and was able to meet the lead singer Stuart Adamson in person in London in 1994. He was soooo awesome. Looking back, I should have been scared that he would have been a jerk and ruined my appreciation of his music, but it was quite the opposite. He asked if I wanted to be a roadie and go on tour with him, and for some stupid stupid reason, I was being “reasonable and responsible”. One of my biggest regrets.
Do you have advice for anyone getting ready to work from home full time?
You need to get a routine going that bookends your day that includes both “work time” and “home time.” For me, religiously, I leave the house in the morning, go down to get a coffee at Dunkin Donuts or Einstein’s, and then “go to work” at home. That’s my “commute” that tricks my brain into the mode of work. Also, when I’m driving to Dunkin or maybe having a bagel at Einstein’s, I do not think of work. I allow my brain to wake up and read Facebook on my phone or play 2 Dots mini-game while having breakfast (not while driving, of course!). I mentally give myself permission to wait until I “go to work.” When I’m “at work” in the home, I try to give myself time to stand up, walk around, and go out for lunch. When it’s near the end of the day and my wife is back from her job, I will usually try to bookend my day by going out with her for a walk around the neighborhood so that when I walk home, I am “going back home.” You really need to try to give your brain a mental break that gives it cues to disengage/engage. Otherwise, you are always on and risk burning out. Also, don’t feel guilty for getting up, going downstairs, getting a coffee or soda, stretch, read something funny, read the slack channel and then come back. Sometimes if you focus too much on an issue, you miss the details.
Lastly, and this is a huge one, in my experience one thing I have found is that almost universally, everyone suffers from the same thing to some degree – this fear that someone else can do a job faster/quicker/better than you can. It is called “imposter syndrome.” It is a real thing and it is probably why Gears is such a great place to work at, because everyone is actually quite humble. I know, it sounds weird to say that. There are positives and negatives to imposter syndrome. The positive is that you are open to other ideas and not thinking that you know everything. It ties into the “no assholes” mentality where ego gets in the way. The negative part – and this is one that most of us struggle with – is giving yourself a pat on the back from time to time AND speaking authoritatively about subjects that you are indeed the master of. Gears hires the best. You are the best. You know your stuff. You may have some doubts about the absolute most perfect way to do something, but I have no doubt that you know what you are talking about and you need to believe that and the clients will believe it.
Thanks for taking the time to share, Ian. After reading that, I feel like I can conquer the world! If you also believe that it’s not “just data” and you want to be part of the Geary team, we’d love to hear from you! Check out our open positions and learn more about working for Gears. We look forward to introducing you to more of the team through the “Life at Gears” series!