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  • Eugene Carr

A conversation with Eugene Carr & Hailey Fuqua

Hailey Fuqua is an opera singer specializing in historical performance who has acted as a Salesforce admin for many companies, from arts/nonprofit organizations to her current career in the energy field. 

Eugene: Hi everybody. I'm here today with Haley Fuqua, who's an opera singer and she's a Salesforce admin located in Boston. She's got degrees from Boston University and Boston Conservatory. And she's a coloratura soprano. So welcome. Let's talk a little bit about, about your artistic career.

Hailey: Yeah, great. Hi Gene.

It's so nice to be here. So yes, I'm Hailey. I I'm from Idaho originally and moved out to Boston at 18 to go to school for vocal performance. Did my, my undergraduate degree at Boston Good Conservatory and then I took a year off in between and then did my masters at Boston University in historical performance.

So that is particularly baroque music. So the music from about 1600 to 1750 and how we, how we perform it as modern singers in ways that can be more authentic or more true to what, what may have happened during the time. Since there's been a lot that has been rediscovered over the past a hundred years and the halls and how the halls in which we perform and how we perform and share, share, music has changed.

And that's really about trying to return to the roots of, of that music.

Eugene: So before we get into your, your admin career, what kind of performing do you do today? In this genre?

Hailey: So a lot of those of us who are are early music, considered early music, but also do opera of the 19th and 20th centuries.

A lot of us sing in churches, whether that's regular services weddings, funerals, any life celebration that you can think of. So I, I spent a number of years singing at a church here in Boston called Church of the Advent, which is had a, an all professional ensemble of 18 singers for the past, gosh, 50 years, 60 years, and well renowned and would be there on weekends and at nights.

And, and I also sing with a group called Opera on Tap, where we bring opera into bars and restaurants and outdoor markets and places where. You know what it's like to be there, but maybe you've not experienced opera. And we will bring opera to you in a place that you're, you're comfortable or you know, what it's like to go to a bar and have, have dinner, and and we'll introduce pieces.

Sing short, short arias, and help you feel like you can understand and experience opera in a way that isn't just in an opera house or in a concert hall, and you need to be dressed up and spend money to be there. It's just a way to democratize opera and and share it with people of all ages.

Eugene: Lovely, lovely.

Well, I want to now say how is it that you ended up also in the tech world, maybe give us a little on ramp to how you got into tech and how that fits into your life and into your career now.

Hailey: Sure. Yeah. So I started working right after college at a theater company, a large theater company here in Boston working in in the box office and in subscriptions and marketing and learning a lot about how organizations.

Sell tickets. How do they manage the patrons that come in and how do, how do they keep track of all that information? Which I stored in a database, a customer relationship management system. So I worked at a theater company and worked with a number of orchestras and opera companies, museums using.

The, the systems that capture all this information. And for the majority of them, the underlying system is Salesforce. And so I really came into it through, through the lens of arts and culture institutions where I was wanting to, wanting to stay within say the arts world and non-profit world and.

And work with a lot of organizations that were very closely aligned to what I was doing as a performer, even just here in the Boston area. And and had a, a marketing agency for a number of years where we helped with all things marketing, but also with these organizations' data basically.

How are you contacting your patrons? How are you capturing their information? How are you reporting on it? How are you using the system that you have paid for to the best of its ability? And so I served as Really a, a consultant and, and part-time admin for a number of organizations across the country who would say, you know, we don't have someone in house who can do these things, but, but we know we need it.

We need someone to help create reports, to make customizations, to make recommendations to us when we feel like something isn't working to the best of its ability, so worked with arts and culture organizations for a long time in, in the nonprofit sphere. And then in 2020. Pandemic hits and unfortunately we really lost a lot of our, our clients because so many places I mean, we all remember those weeks and months, right?

Trapped in our homes where there there were no performances, there were no museums to go to. And, and even while the arts and culture sphere is still still recovering from the pandemic, That, that really was a, a big shift and kind of a, a chance for me to take stock of what, what I wanted to do next.

And and the piece that kind of was always there and really caught my attention and really felt like something that is. Is always different, always changing and completely unique to any organization with Salesforce. And so I decided to use some of my pandemic downtime and unemployment time as well to really dedicate myself to learning Salesforce more than I already did, and find ways to get certified as well as look for, look for a job as someone in the Salesforce ecosystem, as an admin or business analyst or project manager.

And and now I I serve as the senior Salesforce administrator for Yes Energy, which is a Technology company that serves the North American nodal power markets. Which if you don't know what that is, put a pause in it, go look it up later.

But all, all around how we trade, trade, power, trade, electricity, and say for developers who are looking, where should they put the next Wind turbine farm or solar farm or even someone building a large factory. Where, where are the best places to place these things so that they can see what's best in terms of price of power?

How much power is there? Are there places where they're better than others? And and then commodities traders use this information as well. But yes, I have found myself from starting in a box office to managing a Salesforce instance at at a large company.

Eugene: Now, let me ask you a question that I think a lot of people will find interesting, which is, you've worked with arts organizations that use Salesforce.

Now you're working with a corporation that uses Salesforce. Is there much overlap in the needs of the users or are they in two different planetary systems?

Hailey: No, they, you would be so surprised to find how closely aligned they are because when you kind of peel away the layers of the onion, as I call it, they come down to very similar questions, basically, who are the people that we do business with and.

What actions are they taking? So whether that's, what shows do I subscribe to and how much do I donate a year for, say, an orchestra versus with us, what are they ordering in terms of their subscription to our technology product? And who do they serve and where are they located? And. And a lot of those really overlap in terms of the core functions that, that a Salesforce admin, admin serves. Really making customizations, helping with reporting, making sure that data is as clean as possible, and finding ways to make Salesforce easier to use for the people who, who need to access it.

Daily, weekly, monthly.

Eugene: Right. So let me ask you another question that I think a lot of people are thinking about. You have a background in music. You worked in the arts, now you're working with this energy company. Do you find the work that you're doing day-to-day creative and/or challenging?

Hailey: Yes. I incredibly, and you know, there's the, the creativity piece I think is the one that I really value the most because Salesforce, while it is a customer relationship management system, every single Salesforce instance is different, even if it's the same type of company. Again, I've worked with. Probably 20 different organizations at this point between my, my nonprofit work and and where I am now as a, a Salesforce admin.

And while the underlying pieces are the same, so much is different. And, and what is. Really rewarding and also challenging about it too is finding ways to make it the best it can be for the needs of the organization. So whether that is certain integrations, something that doesn't already connect to their Salesforce, or what are they using for marketing?

And so many of these are. There's always a challenge to solve. There's always some piece of the puzzle to untangle and and you have to be really creative to one find, find new solutions because there in Salesforce, there is no one right solution. There are many ways you can approach problems based on either.

Your skillset that you have how the organization uses Salesforce as well as really what, what will make the most sense going forward? You know, is it something that, that you can manage? Is, is it something you maybe need a consultant to help with? Is it something that will work for your end users?

There's, there's so much about it that can, that I can really kind of harness creativity. You know, especially, I was working on a project recently where I had to remove an old install package that, that we no longer used, and I was very entangled with the newer one we have now and, and all these things that was really trying to make them function at the same time.

And, and it's really just kind of keep digging at, to keep digging at things and also think creatively, like, oh, well that didn't work so. Maybe this approach or maybe a combination of the two approaches, or, you know, let's go out to the Salesforce community and see what other people have done. Because chances are the issues you're trying to solve, it's not the first time that they've, they've been approached and, and there's, you know, there's also such a great community in Salesforce, which I think Really also just kind of foster some of that creativity that we're, that we're willing to, to lend a hand, almost like always like being in an orchestra or being in, in an opera production where we all kind of band together.

Eugene: Well, you, you touched on something that I think is really important and I think. Folks that are thinking about moving into this career may say to themselves, well, if it's not an arts organization, I might not be interested. The work won't have relevance and it won't be creative for me. And I think you've basically hinted at a reality, which is that once you get to know almost any organization, the work, the solution you do as an admin becomes in and of itself creative and that it doesn't ever get boring.

And ultimately no matter what kind of organization you work for or with, you've got some creative spirit. And that's one of the great things about the admin role. So. So with that, I wonder if you could give some advice for people that are, you know, you early in your Salesforce world, you know about people that are thinking about getting into this.

What advice would you have? About how hard it is to learn, the process of getting a job, you know, general, general career advice for those that are thinking about moving in this direction.

Hailey: Sure. Yeah. I mean, every absolutely every day is different. There are a lot of. Things that, that remain the same in terms of training people, troubleshooting questions, doing reporting, but there's so much of every day is is different.

But also in terms of myself as an artist, I find that I have, I have energy for art making. In addition to the work that I'm doing, which is really great because I know I have a lot of friends who, who also teach or, or have other directly related jobs in the in the music field. And, and often, and often I find that they, they feel a bit, a bit drained by the end of the day in terms of say, having time to practice or Having the energy to go to a rehearsal in, in the evening, and, you know, there's there can be a lot of flexibility in, in doing admin work.

I feel very lucky that I, I can practice on my lunch break here in my home office. You see my piano behind me, right? And but, but really there, you know, if you think about. Learning a piece of music. So much of it is taking the knowledge that you have, but also applying this kind of hunger and thirst for diving into something, learning more, and You know, I really found for myself, I, I used Trailblazer was an absolute vital part of how, how I learned and how I kind of grew my knowledge over time.

But also having, having certifications has really been been something that has been also vitally important to launching a career in the Salesforce ecosystem because those, those certifications are essentially a stamp of approval in addition to say the work experience that you have or life experience that say, yes, I know what I'm talking about, or, or, I understand these concepts well enough to be able to make recommendations or know how to solve these issues when.

When they happen and like I, like I said before, the online community is really great and there, there are a lot of places, Stage and Screen Careers being another one of them too that can help find, get you on your way and give you some of that foundational knowledge that combined with some real work experience can really get you to the, that next place.

You know, there are, in terms of say, just finding, finding a role, there's a lot of, there's a lot of organizations where they're looking for, you know, a junior Salesforce administrator or someone who might be more of a business analyst or, or say, could do some building of declarative apps. And so there's kind of that, and perhaps more the the for profit sphere.

But I found that there are a lot of non-profits too that, that are using Salesforce that can really use someone who just. Again, they need part-time help for some of these questions that they're trying to ask and solve, whether it's reporting or about their patrons and that they're, there's also some volunteer work out there that can kind of help launch you because, A lot of times there's that combination of, yes, you might have certifications, but where is the actual experience in terms of using the platform that can really help land that first role that that does have more responsibilities and again, perhaps comes with with a larger title too.

Eugene: Great. Great. Well, listen, this has been so interesting and so helpful and I really wonder whether, if you have any final thoughts on your life, which is really a remarkable combination of tech and arts. You know, I'd love to, I'd love to close out with any final thoughts you have.

Hailey: Sure. Yeah.

I would say you'll find, you'll find discoveries every day in working with Salesforce, but also an entire new community of smart, creative people who love to solve problems. As someone who, who works, you know, who works as an artist, but also worked in The nonprofit arts and culture sphere for so long, it's, it's been so wonderful to meet colleagues and mentors and just people outside of what, what we kind of call, you know, the bubble as, as being an artist.

And and I think if you really open up yourself to what, those possibilities are and what that path might be. Because if you told 21 year old me that this is what I'd be doing now, I would've laughed and said, no, that's not, absolutely not where, where things will go, but it's in the end and where, you know, where I find myself now, I'm.

I'm happier, I have more time for my art. I have the flexibility to do my art and, and I also really love being a part of a company that's helping with the energy transition. And that's something again, I just never thought I would find myself involved with.

But I think: just take the risk and and also be willing to fail because you'll fail certification tests, you'll fail, you know, the job search, you know, you're not necessarily gonna land the first one. But but as a musician, we know about rejection. We know about what it's like to prepare for auditions and this and that. Just to use that mindset that we've trained so long for and apply it to, to this work and, and you'll find that it is so rewarding and challenging, but also really fun.


Eugene: Well, you have summed it up beautifully and I just want to thank you for taking the time to chat with me and really appreciate your insights. Thank you so much.

Hailey: Thanks Gene! Yeah, it was great to join.

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