What an Incredible Dreamforce 2019

This year, Salesforce turned 20 years old. I’ve been talking about how #DF19 would be amazing for the last 2 years, and I wasn’t wrong! With so many more activities to do, people to meet, a brand new Architect focus – AND it being my first Dreamforce as a Salesforce MVP, this conference turned out to be a healing and life-affirming experience.

When I first flew out to Dreamforce I was stressed, sad and running on empty. I flew out following a fantastic hen party for my friend at Bluewolf UK and I did NOT regret flying business class for one second. I’m starting my own business – always a worrying time – and I’d had no proper sleep for ages, so the chance to get my head down to sleep for a few hours was awesome.

Sunday

Monday was the “calm before the storm” and a chance to catch up with Charly and Susannah for the first time since TrailheaDX in May! I also finally met Vickie Jeffery, one of our Australian ambassadors, in person for the first time and she gave me Tim Tams. I’ve heard loads about them from my Aussie friends so I ditched the diet and had one. YUM.

We had a few things to do to prepare (we’re always better in person without other distractions), so we set up the Ladies Be Architects HQ in the lounge at the Marriott Marquis and kept our roller banner up for the whole afternoon before we were told to put it away!

A few friends dropped in to say hi, including Nadio from SF Media Partners, with some copies of the new issue of SFSociety magazine (check out my article on why I’m starting The Architech Club!) and Debra Maranta, friend and mentor from Odaseva.

Stuffing swag bags for the LBA party

Then, in the evening, we went out for dinner with our friends and some lovely people from our Platinum sponsors, Odaseva.

Susannah and I out with our friends, including Debra Maranta (who has done so much for us and the success of Ladies Be Architects), Matt Morris, 2 CTAs and event planner extraordinaire, Meta Manning!!!

I had originally arrived in San Francisco feeling pent up and tearful (funnily enough this is happening more since my latest surgery!), but a good talk with a close friend reminded me of all the love we had ahead of us for the week and it shifted my focus.

Monday

CTA Summit

The first unofficial day of Dreamforce for Ladies Be Architects, and we were incredibly proud and grateful to be invited to the CTA Summit. A room filled with such amazingly talented people, and we are honoured to expand friendships within this community of cleverness with every new trip. We love our CTA community and are so proud of their achievements.

We listened to a few presentations, had a preview of some of the announcements for the week and then ran over to Salesforce Tower at lunchtime to kick off the Powerhouse Together women in tech event.

Powerhouse Together

This year, we brought a few women in tech groups together – Supermums, WITDevs, Rad Women and Amplify to celebrate the achievements of women in the Salesforce ecosystem. This sponsored event was six months in the making and a roaring success. Thanks Accenture for the event space and support!

Sadly Rachel couldn’t be there with us in person, but we made sure her head attended! (note: she made an amazing fan for a girl who has hot flushes)

We started things off with a game of “Knots”, which turned out to be hilarious, before celebrating the women in our community who had recently passed architect certifications!

Ladies Be Architects demonstrating “Knots”

We then handed over to our friends the Supermums – who introduced themselves to the US market and got to know the other amazing women in tech groups we have been getting to know over the past couple of years.

TechnoJam

That afternoon we went back to the CTA summit for TechnoJam, the under-the-hood version of the classic Demo Jam we all know so well.

The CTA Summit TechnoJammers – complete with Woodson Martin, EVP & GM of AppExchange at Salesforce

Maritina Tsembelis and I are firm friends in the UK – she runs the ISV Meetup, and we came up with the idea for this and ran a pilot in London over the summer. We pitched the idea to Salesforce and before we knew it, we were preparing to shortlist six ISV partners to share the architecture of their product at Dreamforce. Three of these were showcased at the CTA summit: Native Video, Data Dwell and Mahalo Commissions, with the remaining three – Odaseva, LearnSmarter and SalesTrip showing off their architecture in the Architect theatre the next day.

We spent 1 working day’s effort watching over 20 partners in order to shortlist, and we are proud of every single one for the work they put into it. Congratulations to the six companies who made the list and we are looking forward to doing this again soon.

Ladies Be Architects’ Pre-Dreamforce Party

Before long, it was time to head over to Spaces on Mission, for our party. I couldn’t believe how many people attended; we had a lot more ticket sales during the day on Monday which I was managing on the fly, but the turnout was more than I’d anticipated! We had a few cocktails, caught up with friends old and new, then celebrated our second birthday and Australia’s FIRST woman CTA, Sharayu Sable!

After a long day, I collapsed into bed and finished off my slides for the coming week!

Tuesday

That morning I realised exactly what Salesforce had meant when they’d said they were using a photo of me at Dreamforce. I thought it was only going to be in one place – it was used in quite a few venues! I amused myself with a tweet:

What a humbling experience to see this. There were quite a few UK & Ireland trailblazers represented this year, including my friend Louise Lockie, who was on many bus shelters!

Build an Amazing Solution Workshop

Day one of Dreamforce, and we were up straight away for our first session in the brand new Architect Vista. I’m very proud that we were the opening and closing presenters in this interactive space!

These WHITEBOARDS!!!! I want one

Following that I went over to see FinancialForce and watch the streamed keynote given by Marc Benioff. Halfway through my lunch, my phone starting pinging with photos – they’d put my picture on a pillar IN THE KEYNOTE room! Wow.

Unbelievably cool

Talking Straight About Architecture

Time to go Off The Grid with the strategy team, to talk frankly. We discussed real-life projects, solutions and governance with Susannah and Charly.

I swear we are actually happy in this pic!!

The Salesforce strategy team really looked after us! I loved hearing about some of the work my co-leaders had been doing; it was very refreshing. We so rarely talk about actual work, I left wanting to pick their brains more! There was no rest for the wicked though. I had to get back to the Architect theatre for the next panel session!

Ally is a Verb

Now came the chance to chat allyship in architecture with three fantastic CTAs – Carl Brundage, Ryan Esposto and Luke Emberton.

These men lead in their working lives. Leadership, awareness and support for others were key themes as we discussed the issues affecting diversity in technical leadership. Ryan shared exemplary stories – how he supported one of his female architects when her knowledge was challenged. We can all learn from these experiences and I felt privileged to join the conversation!

Are we there yet….? Nope – still on Tuesday!

That evening, I attended my first Dreamforce MVP party and had an absolute blast!! I got some extremely cool swag in the form of a shiny new t-shirt, and met some lovely new friends.

Yay! It’s AMY!

Wednesday

Thankfully Wednesday was less frantic. I challenged my friend, CTA Andrew Hart, to make it to the developer keynote at 15 mins notice. He did not disappoint! We watched Sarah Franklin award Miranda Ragland her Golden Hoodie and watched a couple of cool demos. Good to catch up and celebrate Miranda’s achievement. I won a DRAGON PLUSHIE at the analyst lunch which made me SO HAPPY. Then came the first Identity Parade session. Identity Parade is a workshop centred around OAuth; we challenged a couple of groups to act out OAuth flows, using the power of movement to retain knowledge.

The result was this hilarious sketch between the attendees- absolutely brilliant:

User-Agent flow acted out

I was too tired to go to the Fleetwood Mac concert – I can’t really do big crowds! I was really glad to go to the Einstein Analytics party and hang out with Leon Markham’s team there. Dinner with friends was cool – yummy noodles served in a hanging basket! I finished the evening having a drink and chat with Will. Will actually lives about 3 miles away from me at home in the UK.

Melissa hanging out with my new plushie

Thursday

Well, what a day Thursday was. It started off with a little anxiety – but I was OK once I was in there. Whilst waiting in the queue, I told the lovely Steve Baines I’d named my kitten after him, and told him not to tell Steve Simpson….

A Conversation with President Barack Obama

I was emotional as we waited for the Obama keynote to start. Sitting in the MVP pit, I really felt the love; it’s such an incredible thing t be a part of. Some of the MVPs had a yoga session while we waited (which cracked me up). Another group sat on the floor and played cards. Everything was so relaxed. I LOVED that they sat local kids in the front for the former President to meet straight after the keynote. Add LT Smooth to that, and you have a culmination of so many emotions, I couldn’t stop the happy tears.

I couldn’t believe I was in the same room as President Barack Obama! The biggest highlight for me was meeting my idol, Emilia Clarke. Somebody told me she was there, so I walked right over to her. I shook her hand and thanked her for everything she has done. I told her she was my inspiration and wished her luck for her session the next morning.

Thanks, Tom Strathearn, for getting this on camera!!

I was so excited I was shaking and I cried again!!!! What a total softie!

Back to the Trailhead Area

Later, when I’d recovered, I headed over to the Trailhead theatre to be on a panel about the Trailblazer community. Alex Pisani did a great job moderating his first Dreamforce session and I had the privilege of appearing on the panel with the lovely Shruti and Russ!

I ran over to the Architect Vista to catch the end of our second Build an Amazing Solution workshop. Somehow I found time to attend CTAs Doina Popa and Karishma Lalwani’s Design Thinking workshop. Then I was up on stage again, this time with Andrew. We talked about Architect mindset – how skills are great, and attitude is better!

Breaking down the admin/developer divide with Andrew!

Possibly bitten off more than I can chew?!

By this time I was pretty tired and I had one more thing to get to. I started walking and eventually found the venue at 1 Sansome Street; the front was a building site. I got into the elevator and got out at the first stop. Hilarity ensued.

whoops

The event I was trying to get to was Salesforce Saturday, hosted by Computer Futures. What a star-studded panel to be a part of; David Liu, Sheldon Simmons, Ben McCarthy (of Salesforce Ben fame!) and Merivis founder Hector Perez!

Then the evening finished off with an inspiring session run by Rakia Finley. Many of us were crying (not just from stretching our arms out and committing to use our super powers!); what an inspiring public speaker she is.

Shout out to so many UK and European friends who also attended and thank you Stephanie for organising. You’re a firm friend and becoming a regular fixture in the UK – we love you.

My evening ended at the Quip party and we had a great time dancing along to Janelle Moane; I have to admit, I had to Google her!

Friday

Friday is always a little quieter, which is much needed after such a busy week! Susannah, Charly and I closed the Architect Vista with a second turn at the Identity Parade workshop. Charly knows this subject matter so confidently and did a wonderful job of explaining OAuth while I switched the slides. We owe Lynette Lim a big thank you for drawing out the OAuth flows for us. There was a lot of laughter when the flows were acted out again!

Thank you to Lucy Mason who took Maritina and I to the Ohana floor on Friday afternoon. We were extremely tired, but it was a lovely way to end the day.

Maritina at the top of the tallest building in San Francisco

And finally, we finished off at the community event of the week – the Michaelforce cigar party! Our last chance to hang out with everybody before we all go home.

And now…?

My cup is full, my heart is mended, my soul is at peace. Thank you for another wonderful Dreamforce. It never ceases to inspire me. See you in June, San Francisco!

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