Wed, 5 February 2020
The Salesforce Admins Podcast is back with another episode of our mini-series, Salesforce for Good, hosted by Marc Baizman, Senior Admin Evangelist at Salesforce and nonprofit veteran. For this episode, we’re talking to Kestryl Lowrey, Technical Architect at Cloud for Good, who helps nonprofits create Salesforce solutions that scale.
Join us as we talk about how Kestryl became an Architect, why the best way to learn is to start building, and why Trailhead is only the beginning.
You should subscribe for the full episode, but here are a few takeaways from our conversation with Kestryl Lowrey.
From printer repair to Director of IT.
“I work with our consultants, developers, and architects to help design big solutions, troubleshoot weird edge cases, help our sales team figure out the most innovative solutions we can offer, and run our internal technical academies for our teams as they work on their professional development,” Kestryl says. “I get to do a lot of different things, but it’s all really towards the mission and goal of nonprofits and higher ed increase their impact using the Salesforce platform.”
When Kestryl first started working with nonprofits, he was excited about everything that the organization was doing. “I got to help kids access painting classes, dance, theater,” he says, “but I was also the only person in the office that could fix the printer.” That landed him pretty quickly as the Program Manager and Director of IT. They were working with a homebrew system built-in SQL that nobody had admin access to, so Kestryl had to spend the weekend not only teaching himself the language but also how to hack into his own database and make changes. “I realized I was having more fun with the technology than I was with the program management and program delivery,” he says. That lead him to specifically apply for a job in IT, which landed him as a Salesforce admin on an implementation that could grow with him.
Helping more nonprofits as a Salesforce consultant.
After working as a Salesforce admin for a while and learning all sorts of new skills, Kestryl got to a point where everything was working great for his organization and found his role had shifted. He decided to make a change and go into consulting. “I’d seen the impact that cloud technology and Salesforce, particularly, can have for just one nonprofit. I wanted to have the ability to help more nonprofits increase their impact by using this technology,” he says.
Making the jump to consulting from an admin role was definitely challenging. “You have to have a very curious and problem-solving mindset,” Kestryl says, “you have to come into it with an openness to always want to find the best way to do it.” Starting out, he was doing just about everything you could do on an implementation: project management, gathering user stories, building the org, testing and QA, coding, data migration, and more. “As I got deeper into that, what I really found was that the thing I found most interesting about the project lifecycle was figuring out the overall whole systems view of what is the best way to do this, what is the way that is not just going to work now but is going to scale,” Kestryl says. That insight lead him to his current role as an Architect.
The making of an Architect.
“One thing that a lot of people don’t realize about being an Architect is you have to be an excellent communicator,” Kestryl says, “you have to be able to share that vision and that plan out to the people who are then going to implement it and take action on it so you can keep moving on to the next big problem.” Along the way, he’s solved problems like building a HIPAA-compliant integration for a health nonprofit that works around encryption and creating an integration between a custom frontend and Salesforce NPSP written in Jitterbit to make maintenance easier.
With a career that has had some major shifts along the way, Kestryl has had a lot of help from the community. “The in-person community at things like Dreamforce and the NTEN conference were all really fundamental in both supporting my learning and also giving me a vision of some of the different options of things to do on the platform,” he says. “When I started as an admin, I didn’t even know that becoming a consultant on the Salesforce platform was a job option out there,” he says, to say nothing of an Architect role. “Having the community helped me see those possible paths.”