Explore, Take Risks and Build New Skills for Success
April 11, 2023
Aabha Lalwani, Senior Manager of Solution Engineering, has worn many hats in her decade of being a part of Salesforce. Her passion for exploring new opportunities has led her to different roles in the organization, each one a first in its own right. With each position, she has cemented the belief that Salesforce is the perfect place for professionals with varied ambitions.
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Taking risks in an environment of trust
Ten years back, Aabha said “yes” to becoming the first customer success manager for Salesforce India. “At that point, customer success was not a term we had heard of in India. Even at Salesforce, it was the first opening for a customer success manager. But having implemented Salesforce outside of the organization, I felt it was a dream job. I went ahead and applied for it, even though I didn’t completely understand what the role would entail on a day-to-day basis,” she reveals.
When asked what made her make such a bold and risky decision early in her career, she attributes it to a feeling of trust — a core value at Salesforce. “I felt confident that Salesforce would take care of me and help me develop the necessary knowledge and capabilities needed for the role.”
Never one to get too comfortable, Aabha has since moved into a domain that required her to develop a significantly new skill set: solution engineering. “One of the best things about Salesforce is that you can get exposure across different business functions. I was keen to try a role that would allow me to add to my skills. When the role opened, I expressed an interest and was encouraged to give it a try. Though I didn’t have prior experience or skills in selling solutions, my leadership had faith in me, and that made me consider the opportunity.”
Finding and creating the courage to thrive
A busy manager of eight employees, Aabha also serves as the Mumbai co-lead for Salesforce Women’s Network (SWN) India, an employee resource group focused on the progress of women. Aabha believes her involvement with SWN and its sustained initiatives are important to further the work of equality within the company. “We don’t get rid of our subconscious biases overnight with one or two training sessions. It’s a continuous effort. I feel fortunate to be in the company of strong men and women who call out such biases.”
Aabha reflects on the growth she has seen so far. “When I joined the company, I think I was the only woman on my team. I was also the first woman manager in my team. Today, at least 25% of my team are women, and growing!” she says. As part of SWN, Aabha has spoken on multiple relevant themes during group events, including leadership growth, financial freedom, and wellbeing.
Leveraging flexibility and unlocking growth
For a management-level professional, Aabha has been successful in balancing her personal and professional pursuits. “I would be lying if I said it’s never a struggle. However, depending on the situation, I let work take precedence on some days and my personal life on others. It helps that we have immense flexibility at Salesforce,” she observes.
She attributes the successful work-life balance to the company’s focus on clear communication and effective expectation setting. “The culture of support holds true for all aspects. While flexibility is one area of impact, there is also a big focus on growth and appreciation. People want to hear your new ideas, and together, help innovate.”
Such an environment provides an ideal setting for professionals to be authentic. “At Salesforce, differences are celebrated, allowing everyone to grow. For instance, in terms of career growth, individuals can choose to be what I call mountain climbers, divers, or adventure seekers. Mountain climbers seek vertical growth within the same team or domain. Divers are all about becoming a subject matter expert and creating a niche for themselves. Being an adventure seeker means people like me; we change roles to get diverse skills and experiences,” states Aabha.
When she is not at her desk pursuing solution engineering or breaking barriers with SWN, Aabha can be found at a new scuba diving site. So far, the certified diver has experienced the depths of the Andamans, Malaysia, and Philippines. “The best part about diving is that once you go into the sea, there is complete calm — you can't hear a thing. It's just you, your breath, and the beauty that resides in the sea,” she says.
It gives me an immense sense of happiness to motivate and enable others. I think I have correctly set the vision and the purpose for my team and we are seeing the results.
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