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From Graduate to Solution Engineer: How Joko Leliveld is Navigating Her Career at Salesforce

Niall Minihan

January 27, 2023

Tell us a little bit about you!

I’m Joko Leliveld, a Dutch living in Dublin. I joined Salesforce 2.5 years ago as a Success Graduate in the role of Associate Solution Engineer and currently work as a Solution Engineer (SE) for the Benelux market.

I had a background in finance and investments, so the Solution Engineer role was not the obvious first choice for me. However, once I got to know the Salesforce platform and company culture, I realized this role was the perfect fit for my skill set and interests. I’m a bridge-builder between technology and business, and *I have a strong belief that technology will foster our future.* I'm passionate about building a resilient society, and I'm a strong believer in co-creation.

Outside of work, I love to hop on my bike, hike in nature, and spend time with friends and family. I’ve lived in Ireland for over two years now, so I have fully integrated into the way of life here, and I love the experience of sea swimming every morning!

What was it like starting at Salesforce in the Success Graduate program?

I started in the program together with a group of Graduate Solution Engineers from a wide range of unique backgrounds. We had a structured development plan that was broken down into several components.

The first six months were dedicated to training, mainly about the Salesforce platform and the Solution Engineering role itself. I earned three core certificates — Salesforce Administrator, Platform App Builder, and Advanced Admin Certificate — which are critical to learning how to operate and utilise the Salesforce platform. The second part of the program was focused on shadowing and supporting deals with various Solution Engineers, as well as our own knowledge development.

The shadow demonstrations were a great experience that helped me understand how to operate and help customers, especially as I prepared to integrate into my new team. Then the final component of the program was transitioning into our own Solution Engineering team and starting to own deals.

Can you share what you do as a Solution Engineer? What’s a typical day like for you?

The great thing about our job is that no two days are ever the same — there is a huge range of activities from day to day. To understand the customer's business imperatives, we do workshops, research investigations, and spend time with key stakeholders. Then we map Salesforce's technology to those imperatives and show how Salesforce uniquely addresses the customer's requirements. This can be as simple as a one-off meeting in which we demonstrate the platform, or involve a complex account strategy working with large teams. The constant variation offers flexibility and gives me the chance to develop my skills while owning my work-life balance.

What do you love about being a Solution Engineer at Salesforce?

More than anything it’s that I can be a bridge-builder between technology and business. Being a trusted advisor, I’m passionate about creating impact by helping companies translate their strategic objectives and unique business requirements into compelling solutions that we deliver to help them on their digital transformation path.

I enjoy the enthusiasm and enlightenment of our customers when they see the possibilities with our platform and the impact on their business. The role depends as much on creativity and problem-solving as it does with tech skills. Strategising with Account Executives and other team members on orchestrating the right solutions for customers is a big part of what we do. Building up the knowledge on the Salesforce solutions we offer allows me to better paint the future vision of our customers and propose more innovative ideas. In return, it allows me to share knowledge with my team, enable them and support them with the right resources. All in all, the dynamics of the job are what I love!

What are three key things you learned as you moved from Graduate to Solution Engineer?

The first is the importance of translating the challenges of the customer into the solution offerings from Salesforce. Bridging the gap between business and technology is critical. Our customers want to become more customer-centric instead of staying more product- and service-focused. The digital transformations they are undergoing and the investments that are related to that should closely be matched to their business objectives. We like to enable our customers with the possibilities of technology.

The second is the importance of building relationships with both customers and internal stakeholders. Connecting to your customer is key to learning about their needs. In order for your customer to feel empowered to use the Salesforce platform, it is important to speak their language. As important as connecting with customers is building your network internally. To drive our breadth of competencies, we need to engage cross-functionally and collaborate with different stakeholders to deliver to our fullest potential. Connecting with people across different functions and departments is key.

Lastly, it is important to create authenticity and define what kind of SE you want to be. Solution Engineers fall into two broad categories: technical SEs and business SEs. Technical SEs are truly passionate about application development, security, encryption, APIs, integration and data strategies. Business SEs surprise and delight customers with creative, benefit-rich solution prototypes. We aim to build a well-balanced team, with different backgrounds and varied skills, so that we can offer the best experiences to our customers. It is important to understand which path you would like to take to further your learning and career development.

Why is Salesforce the right fit for you?

Salesforce is the right fit for me because of its company culture and platform, and knowing I can make a difference. Even though Salesforce is a very large company, every employee is encouraged to help make the company stronger — within the capacity of your role, but also above and beyond your job description. When you set a goal, Salesforce supports your growth and interests.

The moment I stepped through the door at Salesforce, I felt part of a bigger team. My colleagues truly cared, and listened to what I had to say. I can bring my own true colors to our work. I am part of an amazing team in a diverse, multicultural environment. I feel a sense of purpose working at Salesforce as I feel I’m doing something meaningful. I see the impact of our products every day, and how we contribute directly to the success of our customers. Our customers buy a solution that is going to revolutionise the way they do business and interact with their customers. The sense of purpose also extends to giving back to our community and being involved in a wide range of volunteer activities.

I also really enjoy positioning our platform. Being a trusted advisor is a great way to consult our customers. This is a fast-paced environment where we have to adapt constantly to new features, products and customers. I feel empowered to reach for my next opportunities and my fullest potential. Perseverance is one of my core values and I am looking forward to building on these opportunities in Salesforce.

Please reach out to me for a chat about the company, roles or anything else! I would love to share my experiences.

Interested in exploring the Solution Engineer role at Salesforce? See our open roles at

Joke with a bike looking at her phone.