The So You Want My Job series provides a day in the life overview of a particular Salesforce job, written by a professional who holds that job title. Hopefully, these posts will provide insights and answer some of your questions.
Today, we’ll get a glimpse into the role of a Salesforce Mobile Architect.
My name is Gaurav Kheterpal and I live in Jaipur, India. I’ve been in the Salesforce ecosystem since 2008 and my Salesforce journey started off in a rather unexpected manner. I come with a strong mobile/ telecom background and I’ve earlier worked with companies like Alcatel-Lucent, Siemens, Sun Microsystems and it was a conscious decision to move back to my hometown that inadvertently introduced me to the world of Salesforce.
My first role in the Salesforce ecosystem was of a developer, and I gradually moved on to a Technical Lead and I’m currently a Practice Head – Mobility where my team works on a variety of native and hybrid mobile applications, most of these involving Salesforce. However, I like to get involved from a hands-on perspective and be known more as a Salesforce Mobile Architect and a community evangelist.
I’m not a conventional developer or administrator in that sense – my role does not necessarily involve such tasks on a day to day basis. However, I’ve an itch to code and learn and that ensures I keep doing these day in and day out.
Starting off with the Salesforce1 Mobile SDKs and Heroku, I’ve gradually gained expertise on the core Force.com platform and I actively keep self-learning about other offerings such as Service Cloud, Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud.
To be honest, when I started my Salesforce journey, I wasn’t sure of where it would lead to. However, nearly 9 years since then, I must say it was one of the best career decisions I’ve ever taken. I’ve been fortunate to grow and be recognized in the Salesforce ecosystem over the years – I’ve been a speaker at Dreamforce every year since 2012, Salesforce recognized me as a Developer Success Story and I feel grateful to be a part of the amazing Salesforce developer community.
I’d say the first couple of years – I was experimenting and learning a lot with the platform & it’s capabilities and the plan was – let’s play around with it and if I find it interesting, I’ll stick to it or else move on. I was also doing a lot of non-Salesforce stuff at that time but eventually, I realized I was doing too many things at once and needed to make a choice. It was then that I decided that the Salesforce ecosystem is my true calling.
I took up several community initiatives – became the Developer Forums moderator, became the co-leader for Jaipur Developer User Group, delivered my first ever session at Dreamforce and then never had any second thoughts of abut doing anything else.
A Typical Day
Here is what a typical day looks like for me a Salesforce mobile architect. Since I mostly work with clients in the US, I adjust my work schedule based on the US business hours.
5:30 AM – Wake Up
I’m a morning person and I love getting things done early in the day. I get ready, catch up on any urgent emails and prepare a list of my todos for the day before I get my kids ready for school and my wife leaves for work.
7:00 AM – 8:00 AM – Community & Learning Time
I reserve an hour on daily basis for my community activities – whether that’s answering questions on Salesforce StackExchange, moderating Developer Forums, updating my blog or reading up on the things I’ve planned for.
8:00 AM – 10:00 AM- Client Meetings
Since I’m based in India, our time difference with Pacific Timezone is roughly 12 hours so my working day typically begins with client meetings. Some of these are daily standup calls which are to discuss the tasks planned for the day, any roadblocks and and ensure that the team remains on track for planned deliverables. We follow agile development for almost all our projects so that keeps communication effective and short.
Apart from stand-ups, I’m also involved in weekly product roadmap, deployment and strategy meetings where we touch base on these crucial aspects on a regular basis. After my calls are over, I drive down to office.
11:00 AM – 7:00 PM – Office Hours
The day typically starts with a quick status check on all projects that I’m involved in. This is usually followed by any code/ architecture review sessions if required for any project. I take time out to complete my own development tasks. The day typically ends with team deploying their updates to sandbox environments for client reviews.
There’re obviously days we’ve production deployments and depending on the complexity involved, it takes up a certain amount of the working day – mainly to oversee and ensure that everything goes smoothly and if there are any issues, they can be discussed with the customer for a quick resolution.
9:00 PM – 10:00 PM – Client Meetings (if any)
My day typically ends with wrapping up any client meetings on the East Coast.
I’m self-taught thanks to fantastic learning resources such as Salesforce Trailhead, Developer Force Wiki, and Salesforce Stack Exchange. Although Salesforce has recently started offering specialist architect certifications but there’re no mobile centric certifications for now.
You do need a solid understanding of Salesforce and an extensive knowledge of mobile frameworks and platforms – a lot of it comes with experience and learning on the job.
As I mentioned earlier, my responsibilities have changed significantly over the last few years. I’m currently involved with
- Architecture and Code Reviews – This is what excites me most as it provides an ideal opportunity to leverage my hands-on skills.
- Account Management – While the projects are typically structured to have a Project Manager, I’m involved in the overall account management ensuring that overall account is in a healthy state, taking care of billing and resourcing etc.
- Client Meetings – Stand-ups, requirement gathering, product roadmap, deployment strategy meetings.
The Best Part
The opportunity to learn is endless and I relish learning more about the platform each day. I’m someone who likes to keep up with technology changes and I’m glad my job provides that opportunity. My job and community activities keep me very busy and I believe the last year was the busiest as well as the most satisfying as a Salesforce professional.
The Worst Part
Though I try and spare time for my hands-on activities, there are days when I get completely bogged down with meetings and account management tasks – leaving no time for what I like doing most – getting my hands dirty.
I think I’ve managed reasonably well so far. I don’t travel for long periods of time – though I need to visit client locations occasionally for kickoffs and crucial deliveries but in general, it’s manageable. My wife usually doesn’t crib about my schedule so that’s a good sign that I’m doing reasonably well there.
It’s a long road and it can often be challenging to find motivation to keep learning. You would typically start off as a developer or an admin and then move on to an architect role. If you love what you are doing, it definitely makes it a lot easier. And once you’re working in an architect role, the opportunity to apply your learnings is something which makes all the effort worth it.
There are a lot of iconic figures aka ‘heroes’ in the Salesforce ecosystem – folks like Dan Appleman, Andrew Fawcett, Bob Buzzard, Don Robins, Jeff Douglas and several others – who’ve been an inspiration for me and I’ve learnt a lot over the years from each of these in my career.
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