Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead Recognized as Salesforce MVP

Stacey Cogswell, Innovate’s Salesforce Product Owner Team Lead, was recently recognized as a Salesforce MVP (https://www.salesforce.com/mvp) for a 4th year. Salesforce MVPs are leaders in the Trailblazer Community, an online learning ecosystem for all things Salesforce. We had a conversation with Stacey about her Salesforce work and some of her favorite things about Innovate.

  1. What is your role at Innovate?

I am the Product Owner Team Lead. The Product Owner does just that; they own the product. A lot of my day-to-day work involves translating between the client and our development team. I meet with the client to understand their needs and pain points. I meet with the development team to make sure they have all the information they need to be able to build. I then listen to the development team about what they’ve built and translate that back to the client. And we iterate from there. Anytime we show the client something we’ve built, there are always aspects we can change. It’s a repeating cycle of enhancements and improvements.

In addition to being the Product Owner, I am also the Product Owner Team Lead. I lead people on the product team, which includes other product owners, business analysts, and support specialists. I streamline our processes, remove hurdles or obstacles our employees face, and am available to assist in any way that I can.

  1. What has been one of your favorite projects while working at Innovate?

I’ve been singularly focused on one large project the entire time I’ve been at Innovate. I’m working on the Mission Transformation through Salesforce pilot we’re doing for the Office of Pesticides Programs within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It’s actually been really fun to help them take a primarily paper-based process and turn it into a digital system. I get to watch the OPP embrace the benefits of this digital transformation, which has been incredibly rewarding. One unexpected benefit was the switch to telework due to COVID-19, which the EPA has never had to do before. But because of our digital transformation pilot, they were able to use our cloud-based system in Salesforce to continue operations.

  1. Tell us about your professional growth while at Innovate. How have you been supported throughout your career here?

Innovate has absolutely been supportive and encouraging of my professional growth. In my year and a half that I’ve been with Innovate, I began as a Product Owner and am now the Product Owner Team Lead. So that is growth right there.

Innovate has also been very encouraging of the work I do within the Salesforce ecosystem. Since I’ve been at Innovate, I have been designated as a Salesforce Analytic Champion (https://www.salesforce.com/campaign/champions/overview/) and have learned more about Salesforce’s advanced analytic tools. I now get to share that by implementing Analytics Cloud for our clients and by hosting workshops for my coworkers to help them learn how to use these tools. There are certain things I knew I wanted to do to grow professionally—for example, I wanted to keep using Trailhead to learn more about the Salesforce platform—but there are other things that Innovate has suggested. Earlier this month, Innovate provided training in the Scrum framework for anyone who was interested. As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was something that I wanted to do. And so, thanks to Innovate, I am now a certified Professional Scrum Master, which allows me to run projects more efficiently.

And then there’s a whole third leg of growth that I see professionally, in the example set by my manager, Rebecca Thomas, and other managers like Eric Baptist, my counterpart on the technical side. They’re both phenomenal leaders and watching how they lead and help grow the individuals on their teams becomes inspiration for me to do likewise with my team.

  1. What are some of your passion projects?

My passion is all things Salesforce! I have a Salesforce podcast called Salesforce Campfire Stories. My co-host Justice Sikakane, Sr. and I share stories of Trailblazers in the Salesforce ecosystem and how they have overcome obstacles—personal, professional, or environmental—to reach incredible heights. The Trailblazer community is an incredible group of people with remarkable stories full of inspiration and encouragement.

My other passion project is Salesforce Saturdays, a monthly networking event I host in Wilmington, North Carolina. We meet the first Saturday of every month (right now we’re virtual but will meet in-person again once it’s safe). It’s for locals who work with Salesforce in any capacity to come together, network, share what we’ve learned, and maybe learn something new together. I am passionate about what Salesforce can do for people, for professions, and for companies that I’ll share it with anybody who will listen and give people a microphone to be able to share their own stories.

You can listen to Salesforce Campfire Stories here. (link: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/campfire-stories/id1337155743)

  1. What are the main career lessons you’ve learned so far?

One area I’ve learned grown in recently is my confidence to speak up more. This may look like having the confidence to make a case for a new tool I know will be beneficial for my team or speaking up to a client when they want to rush through a vital quality check. Using Innovate’s value of “Love and Respect Human Beings,” I’m learning that speaking up confidently allows me to improve my and my team’s work.

Another lesson I’ve learned is to allow myself a bit of grace to fail. With innovation, there is potential for benefit, but there is also risk. As long as you’re innovating in a safe, responsible way—by communicating with a manager, doing research, getting proper approval, understanding risks, and putting safeguards in place—it’s okay to take small, incremental risks.

This growth has come from time and experience, as well as surrounding myself with support. I have incredible teammates who have my back even if my innovation does fail, a manager with whom I have a good working relationship who is incredibly supportive, and a challenging environment that inspires me to try new things. I have my own back, too, because I planned ahead and put safeguards in place. Then I move forward, boldly but cautiously, and iterate from there. There will be failure, but it’s not the end of the road. Take the lessons learned, apply them, and keep moving forward.

Interested in reading more of Stacey’s career lessons? She recently wrote a blog post for Salesforce Admin about how she got involved with Salesforce and her top three ways you can take your Salesforce Administrator career to the next level. (link: https://admin.salesforce.com/blog/2020/take-your-salesforce-administrator-career-to-the-next-level)

  1. Any final thoughts or words of wisdom?

When people ask, “What is your favorite thing about Innovate?” I always mention the culture. While our three core values are not your typical marketing-approved buzzword-heavy values, they are genuine and authentic. I love being part of a company that lives out their values every day and in every project. And yes, we’re hiring! (link: https://innovateteam.secure.force.com/InnovatePublicJobBoard/Innovate_Public_Job_Board)

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