In our latest employee spotlight, we talked to Christine Jessen, a Director of Solution Engineering who has been with OwnBackup for almost four years. Christine talked to us about what got her into Solution Engineering, the appeal of the Salesforce platform, and advice for those just starting out in the industry.
Can you tell us a little about your career journey/background?
I studied Electrical Engineering at the University of Michigan, and after graduation, I moved out to Los Angeles to start my career as a Payload Systems Engineer at Boeing Satellites. During my time at Boeing, I worked with a myriad of different people, from consultants with 30+ years of experience, to brand new interns to union workers. I learned that I needed to communicate differently across different audiences, and how to communicate technical information to get the results I wanted.
After 10+ years in the defense industry, I was ready to move on. I spent hours each day on LinkedIn, trying to evaluate what my next career move was going to be. As soon as I read the description for a “Solution Engineer”, I knew that this was the role for me. Selling a technical solution to both technical and non-technical audiences was exactly what I was meant to do. I also saw a ton of opportunities within the Salesforce ecosystem. So my next challenge was, how do I get a Solution Engineering role in the Salesforce ecosystem with no sales experience and no working knowledge of Salesforce?
Thankfully, Salesforce has some amazing online learning resources though Trailhead. I dove into spinning up my first dev org and was hooked. But I still didn’t know how to convince someone I could do this role, and I wasn’t in a position to take an entry level job as I had a mortgage. So after almost a year of constant rejection from job applications, I decided to try something different. I messaged the CTO of a company and told him exactly why I knew I would succeed in this role. He called me the same day, and after several rounds of interviews, I landed the job. That launched me into my Solution Engineering career path in the Salesforce ecosystem- literally my dream job.
What are your responsibilities as a Director of Solution Engineering at OwnBackup?
I manage a couple of Enterprise Solution Engineers and am constantly working to expand the team. My main responsibilities fall under revenue, retainment and recruiting. My team supports the West Enterprise Account Executives, and it’s my responsibility to ensure that we’re able to effectively complement the sales team to sell OwnBackup. Whether it’s demos, Proof of Concepts or Security Reviews, my team handles all the technical customer-facing responsibilities.
In addition, I need to grow and scale my team as OwnBackup continues to grow. Growing at such a rapid rate requires every Solution Engineer to be part of the ramping process. Our team is amazing-everyone helps each other out and the collaboration is incredible. This makes my day to day much easier when managing such a strong team and I continue to look for new talent that will both strengthen and complement the existing team.
What are some of the key traits you need to succeed as a Solutions Engineer?
Translating technical concepts to meet customer use cases is the most important trait. You can’t sell a product without understanding the customer’s needs. Account Executives and Solution Engineers work together so closely and both play an incredibly important role in the sales cycle. The selling team needs to complement each other and work together to ask the right questions along the way.
Successful Solutions Engineers are curious, driven, and organized. They aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and dive into a customer’s complex data model. Their technical expertise in Salesforce and the product allows them to really build trust with their customers. They are excellent problem solvers who know the platform inside and out.
What makes Salesforce such an interesting platform to work in every day?
The fact that Salesforce is highly customizable makes it as easy or as complex as you need it to be. Salesforce can be implemented across any vertical, whether it’s B2B, B2C, Healthcare, Finance, etc. It truly is a flexible CRM that sits in the cloud and is accessible via a web browser to internal employees through to external customers. This is why Salesforce has such a large, active ecosystem.
With the AppExchange, you can look for packages to help enhance your CRM in many different ways. But with all this amazing ability to customize, it opens the door for data loss and corruption, which is why we exist as a company today. We’re here to help companies accelerate their digital transformation while making sure their data is still protected.
What advice do you have for those starting out as a Solutions Engineer, particularly in the Salesforce ecosystem?
Do the Trailheads! Everything with Salesforce is so readily available, and the best way to learn is to get hands-on. Challenge yourself and build out some Apex code or create some lightning components. The more you learn, the easier and more confident you will be when selling to a Salesforce Admin or Developer.
What do you like most about working at OwnBackup?
Definitely the people. Everyone cares about what they do and I think that’s been the key to our success. Our entire Solution Engineering department has the best dynamic- we all help each other across all of the different business segments. Everyone truly makes time for each other. Solution Engineers collaborate with so many different departments, from Product to Engineering to Security, so maintaining good working relationships is extremely important.