All too often, when you hear about inspirational leadership, you mostly hear from those naturally comfortable with shining a spotlight on their achievements.
Not so with Salesforce’s Angelica Veness, a Manager of Solution Engineering and recently a finalist in the Business in Heels Gender Equity Awards. Angelica is well-known for striving to ensure her team is clearly heard and widely recognised for their united and individual achievements.
Not content to support only the individual, she takes a holistic approach to management by identifying knowledge gaps or ideas that would benefit the entire team.
Angelica believes building your brand is essential to career development and progression. But not long ago, she discovered that several women in her team were uncomfortable with seeing themselves as a ‘brand’, believing it to mean they needed to shout from the rooftops about the great work they were doing. Instead, Angelica reframed it as being about being more intentional and knowing how best to influence and lead.
This discovery motivated Angelica to design and organise a bespoke training workshop called “Brand Building. What’s your brand, why is it important, and how do you build it?” Through this course and Angelica’s leadership, individuals could clearly understand the benefits of seeing themselves as a brand to improve their reputation and learn tangible ways they could start to build it.
Angelica has been in the technology industry for the last two decades, and in that time, she has been one of the few, if not only, women in the room. Today she loves her job at Salesforce. It’s the first time she’s worked for a female CEO, with Pip Marlow as the CEO of ANZ and ASEAN at Salesforce, and for a company that actively strives to give women a place and voice at the table. Angelica says, “It’s incredibly motivating and inspiring to see women at all levels within Salesforce, as it gives me the courage and belief that someday I could be there too.”
Salesforce believes everyone should feel comfortable bringing their authentic selves to work. To support this, Salesforce employees have built several internal equality groups centred around shared life experiences or backgrounds and their allies. Their mission is to make equality a reality inside Salesforce and in the communities where we live and work.
One of these groups is the Salesforce Women’s Network (SWN), of which Angelica is a dedicated member. SWN’s mission is to build gender equality and foster inclusion in the workplace and beyond through empowering, supporting, and investing in Salesforce’s global community for women and their allies. Through SWN, Angelica mentors emerging leaders: “I find it incredibly rewarding to give back to the community, particularly through internal career mentoring and some of our not-for-profit partners such as Thread Together, Dress for Success and Good 360.”
In addition to her involvement with SWN, Angelica leads the Women in Solution Engineering (WISE) group, a specialised community of women in solutions and their allies to inspire diverse perspectives that attract and amplify talent, incubate ideas, and create opportunities. With WISE, she’s coordinated several Salesforce employee volunteering days (Salesforce offers employees an above-average VTO benefit of seven business days each year.) Recently, Angelica’s team supported Thread Together, a not-for-profit that saves last season, new clothing from large retailers which would otherwise go to landfill and provides it to people in need.
A big focus of Salesforce is education for underserved communities. Salesforce is a longtime partner of Schools Plus, an organisation that supports teachers in delivering programs to help children facing disadvantaged success at school. It’s also a partner of CareerTrackers, an organisation that creates pathways for Indigenous young Australian adults to attend and graduate from university and gain industry experience. In addition to financial support for these organisations, Salesforce leaders like Angelica volunteer to run programs, such as Design Thinking, in a fun and entertaining way (think Zombie Apocalypse scenario games!).
Angelica has drawn a great deal of inspiration from Pip Marlow’s leadership. One of Pip’s core leadership goals is to create a space of psychological safety so people feel they can speak up and ask her absolutely anything without fear. Angelica is passionate about bringing this energy to her team, and for her, it all starts with open communication. The team sits down regularly to discuss what they want to start, stop and continue, which then becomes a social contract outlining the best way to thrive as a team.
As our conversation draws to a close, one message Angelica wants to ensure others hear is the value of your tribe. For Angelica, this means finding mentors you can trust and talk openly to. Gone are the days of women needing to compete for only one spot at the table. We need to be working harder to lift each other up.
If you would like to learn more about the other finalists then click this link.