14 Years Leading Product at Salesforce: Q&A with Shawna Wolverton
When I saw Spekit’s announcement that Shawna Wolverton was taking an advisor role with the company, I quickly fired off a message to my friend Melanie Fellay, CEO and Co-Founder of Spekit, and told her that she needed to interview Shawna about life after Salesforce, and why she wanted to be involved with Spekit. Melanie’s reaction to that – you’ve known Shawna longer than I have Eric, you should interview her!
First a little background: Shawna started at Salesforce in late 2003, when there were only about 300 employees. She spent her time there leading product strategy, helping to create amazing solutions and incredible value for the Salesforce ecosystem. During her 14 years at Salesforce, Shawna held various roles building the Salesforce platform. Most recently she led their next generation user interface migration, or as we call it in the Ohana, “Lightning.”
Shawna was always very focused on listening to the challenges of customers, then taking the next step and building out solutions to meet those challenges head-on. In December 2017, Shawna took her sharp customer focus and keen eye on product development to Planet as their new Chief Product Officer.
Most recently, Shawna has taken on an advisor role with Spekit, started by two female founders Melanie and Zari. Spekit is a scalable in-context learning and knowledge solution that’s built from your CRM. Spekit allows your users to learn by doing, with a solution that sits on top of their Salesforce or email application, for greater knowledge retention and increased Salesforce competency and skill progression. Built from your CRM, your knowledge automatically scales with your business to drive operational efficiency and alignment around your data, processes and content.
And now the conversation with Shawna.
So, Shawna, what’s life after Salesforce like?
It’s been really fun to dig in on brand new challenges. I had a number of roles over the years at Salesforce, but thinking about the democratization of access to Satellite data has given me the opportunity to have a genuinely fresh perspective.
What part of the Ohana do you miss the most?
The satellite data market is still relatively new. There isn’t the community of super engaged customers like I had at Salesforce. I’m focused on building out that community, but in the meantime, I miss the folks who were always there to tell me when I’d done something right, and more importantly, something wrong.
What is the biggest challenge that you’ve had since leaving Salesforce?
Going from being an old timer to the “newbie” has been great, but is also a challenge. My deep knowledge of the technical intricacies of salesforce workflow aren’t much use in space.
What would you say if I simply said “banana-pants”?
Not sure I’d say anything, but it sure would bring a giant grin to my face. Having the kind of connection I did with my Salesforce customers was a tremendous source of joy.
Do your current colleagues walk through the office saying things like “Shawna rules the Planet!“?
Not yet! Give it time…
How did you first learn about Spekit?
I kept hearing about Spekit from my former colleagues at Salesforce and in the ecosystem. When you hear good things from various sources like that, you take a look!
What attracted you to Spekit as an advisor?
As the PM who owned setup and had close relationships with admins, I immediately recognized the benefit the product could bring to both admins and end users as both a dynamic data dictionary and in-context knowledge solution. As various folks work on an instance, so much of the “why was this done” gets lost. And then giving end users access to that “why” so that they can be the most effective – it’s a very powerful tool.
And then once I met Melanie and Zari, I was in. Their passion for this product is infectious and their deep understanding of the pain in this space makes them uniquely qualified to solve it.
What challenges in the ecosystem do you see Spekit solving?
Many companies rely on other applications outside of Salesforce, such as email, to support their growth. Yet, the knowledge around their business, data and messaging is the same across the various applications. Spekit helps bridge that gap by allowing employees to leverage this knowledge, both inside and outside of Salesforce, to bring efficiency to their day-to-day.
Where do you see room for innovation in the CRM learning and training space?
I think the lifecycle solution – from admin to end user and back again – is a fresh approach to learning and training. So often training material gets stale – which is why it’s so critical that Spekit’s knowledge solution is tied to your underlying data model in Salesforce so that as your CRM scales, your knowledge does too. More importantly, having end users contribute to the tribal knowledge, directly from their workflow, really changes the game.
Where do you see Spekit in 5 years?
I think this is just the beginning for Spekit. When you understand what the platform is capable of doing – bringing the information a user needs to wherever they are – the possibilities are endless.
Personally, I’m excited to see where the Wolverton-Spekit relationship goes. Knowing Shawna as well as I do through my 9 years in the Salesforce Ecosystem, and understanding the passion and drive that Melanie and Zari have for Spekit….the sky’s the limit!
Thanks Shawna for your words of wisdom, for the trip down memory lane, and for all the awesomeness you’ve accomplished, and will still continue to accomplish. Thanks team Spekit, for allowing me the honor of interviewing your newest addition, Shawna Wolverton!
Curious about Spekit? Attend their upcoming Dreamforce session or stop by their booth, #25, in the Trailhead Zone and see first hand, what all the fuss is about!