Bay Area Girl Geeks Dinner: Salesforce Lightning Talks

On the evening of Wednesday, May 14, the folks at Salesforce played host to the 64th Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner (BAGGD) in their iconic One Market Street location. Guests were greeted by a crew of volunteers in Salesforce t-shirts ready to hand out name tags and branded socks, yes socks. Made of bamboo and donning robots with floating hearts, these were a hit among attendees. The t-shirts and hoodies they were handing out were also well received.



Like all BAGGD events, the night kicked off with some serious(ly fun) networking, plenty of food and lots of things to choose from to drink.




Throughout the section of office we occupied there were a handful of demos set-up in which Salesforce employees, primarily women, walked through the technology they use to manage everything from debugging to Agile development workflow.




Just over an hour after the doors opened, and full of mini burgers, falafels, chicken skewers, mini key lime pies, marshmallows and many other goodies, it was time to get inspired.

After a quick word from the organizers, Salesforce Co-founder Parker Harris took the mic to welcome everyone to the event. He made note of the 1100 people who entered the lottery to snatch up one of the 100 or so spots, and was grateful for such an overwhelming response. Harris also welcomed the opportunity to potentially recruit more women into the company.




With the stage set to highlight some of the great female minds of the company, the lightning talks began. Below is a quick summary of each:




UI testing made consistent through WebDriver

Srirama Koneru, Principal Member of Technical Staff

Salesforce was using Selenium as its testing framework for web applications, but Srirama wasn’t too happy with the amount of time it took engineers for to run positive/negative tests. Selenium 1.0 was being depreciated, new APIs were more deterministic and the loss of productivity were all drivers (pardon the pun) for her to push for a move to Webdriver. Starting out with a test batch driven by QE leads, half of every scrum team used this in the first sprint of every release until all the tasks were done.

The end result? Increased productivity and testing effectiveness which led to a full switchover to Webdriver.




Common Myths about Technical Management

Josie Gillan, Director, Quality Engineering

Josie reached out online to gain feedback about what people really though about technical management, and she determined a few common myths which likely serve as deterrents to programmers making the jump over. She narrowed it down to three things which simply aren’t true (at least in her experience):

1. You can no longer be technical 
Josie is currently writing an app for a non-profit in her spare time and she recently became a Salesforce certified developer.

2. You lose your flexibility
Josie has good work/life balance and always manages to find time to be at her son’s wrestling matches and her daughter’s plays.

3. There is a ton of tedious work 
This is technical management roles of the past. Now, thanks to the agile development approach Salesforce takes, her team collaboratively decides what to work on so they are way more motivated and she’s not completely bogged down with paperwork.




Agile at Salesforce

Anjali Joshi, Agile Coach

What is Agile? First it’s about finding where you are, taking a small step towards your goal, and adjusting your understanding based on what you’ve learned, and then repeating the process all over again.

Anjali shared a story about her 6-year-old self. Her first assignment in grade one was to prepare a poster board which she would then use to introduce herself to the class. Recently having gone to a circus show with her family, which she thought was the greatest thing ever, so she covered her board in pictures of clowns. While her mom gently suggested that she should probably include some pictures of herself and the family on there, Anjali dismissed her and felt prepared. Come presentation time, after several students had talked about themselves, it dawned on Anjali she had missed the mark and felt defeated before walking up to the front of the class.

Luckily, this wasn’t the end of Anjali’s public speaking career. She learned two important lessons that day; one was to always listen to her mom, and two, it’s okay to try something, learn from it and try again (the fundamental principle of agile development).

At Salesforce, they use a discipline of Agile called the Adaptive Delivery Methodology (ADM). It applies Scrum and Kanban Project Management frameworks, adopts certain extreme programming practices and is based on lean principles.




5 Reasons To Be a Product Manager

Shawna Wolverton, Sr. Director of Platform Product Management

Thinking about becoming a Product Manager? Here are the top five reasons Shawna Wolverton thinks you should be:

1. Problem solving is fun!
When working on a project, it’s almost like completing a puzzle. It’s gratifying to see all of the pieces come together.

2. It’s never boring
There is always a new challenge to tackle, and new people to work with.

3. Give customers what they want (sort of)
You get a 50,000 foot view of the product you’re working on and can figure out how a change to a product can make a difference in many people’s workflows. Sometimes you’ll even know what customers need before they do.

4. Know all the things
You get to know a product inside and out. You know what’s happening with it and when. You often have a more complete picture of a product than anyone else.

5.  Be a leader
In a product management role, you’re tasked with trying to get a whole bunch of people who don’t report to you to do your bidding. It’s a chance to exercise the finest in leadership qualities.




Doing Good while Doing Well

Cheryl Porro, SVP, Technology and Products at Salesforce Foundation

A long time employee on the product side of Salesforce, Cheryl leaned in and landed a position with the company’s foundation.

When the company was first formed, it was decided that philanthropy would be at the core of the company. One percent of the company’s equity would go to a foundation, one percent of employee time would be dedicated to volunteering, and one percent of their product would be donated, also known as the 1/1/1 model. 

Adoption of this 1/1/1 model has led to 620,000+ hours of volunteer time, $65 million + in grants and 22,000+ in non-profits operating with Salesforce. She’s never been happier!



A BIG thanks goes to Salesforce and the Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner organizers for a wonderful evening!

1 Comment

  1. MaryScotton /

    Thanks so much for capturing this event with great photos and detail, Lindsey!

    For anyone interested in learning more about women in tech at and in the Salesforce Developer community, check out my blog series: I recently featured Sukrutha Raman Bhadouria (Bay Area Girl Geek Dinner organizer), Carolyn Grabill (developer who also teaches kids to code, pictured in that first pix after the food), and Leah McGowen-Hare (Master Instructor, pictured in the 2nd pix after the food).

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