We love hearing how Salesforce completely alters a person’s career path — and that’s exactly what happened to Adam Menzies of CGI. Blazing his trail from full-stack software development to Vice President of Emerging Practices at CGI, Adam continuously pushes to find new ways to deliver on customer success. Learn more about Adam in this interview.
Tell us about your journey. How did you get to where you are today?
Adam: I graduated college in 2000, and worked as a full-stack developer — developing web and desktop-based software for different firms like the Marine Corps and others. In 2008, I joined Summa, now part of CGI, and continued as a heads-down programmer until 2010 when we bought a Salesforce firm.
The CTO of Summa called me when I was onsite at a customer meeting — I still remember being there, in the hallway, stepping out of a meeting to talk to him. He said, “We’re going to buy this company. They focus on Salesforce; do you know what that is?” I said, “No idea – never heard of it.” He said, “Well, I think you’d be really good at it. Come back and let’s talk about it.”
I went back that week and since then, I’ve shifted my focus from writing code to solving business challenges for our clients.
Since then we’ve become part of CGI where we work with clients in every sector to drive digital transformation. The ability to work alongside industry experts at CGI and lead teams in emerging practice areas for the U.S. business is incredible and would not have been possible without my shift in focus from coding to business.
Sounds like it was the right fit. How did your relationship with Salesforce grow?
Adam: I fell in love with Salesforce from the start. What I encountered a lot in the custom code world were business users who were very disenchanted with the IT world, and there was no trust that anything would be delivered on time. We spent a lot of time standing up environments or implementing code for the same basic functions on every project.
With Salesforce, you can do so much with almost no code. You’re focused on the business problem — not testing deployment scripts or a save button. That was a major change for me and I continue to evangelize that as a major selling point of Salesforce. When you focus on the business problem and deliver within weeks and see the genuine delight from customers, it’s like a hit of adrenaline. I jokingly say I’ve been riding that endorphin rush for nine years.
Since moving into a more executive role, how do maintain a focus on learning and staying up-to-date with developments?
Adam: It’s a challenge. Back in the day, I used to read the release notes on a flight — mark them up, get my thoughts together. Now, the release notes are far too enormous for that, because the innovations coming out on the Salesforce Platform are so monumental.
I think the key is staying focused on what’s important to your role, company, or area of the platform. It’s almost like majors and minors in school; you have to pick one or two majors that you will really focus on, and minor areas where you can lean on a network of people when you have a question or need more information. Leveraging your network, community groups, or other additional communities are critical.
Speaking of community groups, I hear that’s a topic near and dear to your heart.
Adam: Yes. I helped start and co-lead a number of community groups in the Pittsburgh area — the Pittsburgh admin group, the developer group, and a non-profit group. I really enjoy community groups and wish I could participate more. I try to stay as involved as I can, as well as presenting to community groups in other cities.
What’s a project outside of work that you’re passionate about?
Adam: I have two daughters — five and eight years old — so I’m pretty passionate about supporting our area’s women in technology groups and especially passionate about the focus on girls in STEM. At the elementary schools in the area, they use a low-code platform called Scratch, developed out of MIT.
With these types of low-code platforms, my oldest — who is in second grade— is writing code that does iterative looping and conditional statements and other cool stuff that I didn’t learn until I was in high school! Working with kids to learn the fundamentals of programming while focusing on the outcome they’re trying to build is really exciting and something I’m really pumped about being involved in.
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