JoAnn Culbertson

Prague Calling: Salesforce Takeaways from Czech Dreamin' 2024

21 May 2024


On Friday, May 17, I had the pleasure of attending Czech Dreamin’, a Salesforce conference for the user community in Europe. Established in 2019, it has become Prague's leading Salesforce event, offering an unforgettable blend of learning experiences, engaging activities, and networking opportunities. Here are some personal reflections on this inspiring day.  

The keynote speaker, Domenique Sillett Buxton, aka Astro’s Mom, gave us an inspirational talk on how Astro and the other mascots were created and how they have evolved over the past 10 years. In describing the journey of the creating a much-loved set of characters, she reminded us that “No one trailblazes alone”.  This rang particularly true for me. I started my Salesforce Career as an accidental admin and taught myself how to utilize the system. The first Dreamforce I attended in 2006 gave me so much inspiration and a realization that I wasn’t “just” a system administrator, but a key player in helping the teams I supported evolve into efficient salespeople, marketers, and product managers.

Another key takeaway for me was that we must “Move forward with purpose and intention”.  This is a key inspiration for me in pursuing the pinnacle of certifications from Salesforce, Certified Technical Architect. As someone with a humanities degree whose hands shook the first time she turned on a computer at my first job after university, realizing that once I stepped past my fear, I could accomplish whatever I wanted.

Melissa Shepard

I will confess, when I got the opportunity to talk to her in person, I had a fan girl moment and she was gracious enough to take a selfie with me and another one of my heroes in the Salesforce eco-system, Melissa Shepard.  

I led a session on Securing Integration with Salesforce and third-party applications. It went very well, the analogy between wedding planning and security was well received and spurred some interesting discussions on how to provide adequate security when working with sub-par 3rd party applications.  I have some follow-up to do with a couple of the attendees to see if we can come up with a work-around that will address the gaping holes in their current solution.  This is the kind of work I live for.  Finding solutions to problems.  One of my passions is knitting and when I have a tangled mass of yarn, the satisfaction of winding it off into a nice, neat ball that I can knit from is soul satisfying. Solving technical problems provides me with the same sense of accomplishment and a feeling that all is right with the world.   

There were so many great sessions at this event. A huge shout-out to Martin Humpolec and team for the great organizational job they did in pulling off this conference. I attended sessions on data modeling in Data Cloud with Melissa Shepard, Data access Intricacies with newly minted CTA Svata Sejkora (who provided judging services for a mock architecture presentation I did in a study group last week – great feedback and I was happy to have the opportunity to meet in him in person), How to use Data Fetcher, a new Salesforce Labs app from the AppExchange with Skye Tyler and as a perfect wrap-up for the day, a session on Building Confidence as an Architect with Charly Prinsloo. So many things to share with the team when I return to the office.  

The speaker experience was definitely the highlight of the trip. I chose a difficult topic to present deliberately, knowing that it was an area that I didn’t feel confident in. I wanted to challenge myself to deepen my knowledge and share what I learned with interested parties.  I was able to provide a framework in the context of party planning that helps architects approach a complex topic with difficult-to-understand concepts in a fun and approachable way. I plan to continue to submit session ideas to other conferences, partly to continue to challenge myself technically, but also to develop a level of comfort in public speaking and in trusting that I can respond to questions and challenges to my solutions confidently.  

Next stop, Wir Sind Ohana, a user community organized conference in Berlin followed by Architect Dreamin’, a conference for Salesforce architects.  While I won’t be speaking at Wir Sind Ohana, I will be co-facilitating a session on “Designing Solid Solution Architecture: the Composable Way” with Miriam McCabe based on the well-architected principles outlined by Salesforce. Stay tuned. 

JoAnn Culbertson

      Written by JoAnn Culbertson
      Salesforce Solution Architect, Inetum Belgium