Transforming #AccidentalAdmin Problems Into Solutions

Karmel James and Kate Lessard are on a journey to transform the problems we face as Accidental Admins into solutions to help each and every Accidental feel empowered along their journey. Their hope is to provide a guide that includes gems we all wish we would have learned earlier.

During their roundtable session at WITness Success, they challenged attendees to share tools, tips, and tricks that have proven to be solutions. Our blog got a little shout-out, but that wasn’t my favorite part of the session. It was working as a community, as we should, to share our gems and multiply our knowledge. It was an honor to take part in their session and even this Accidental learned a few new tricks!

We’ll be sure to share when their guide is ready for the world (and HERE it is!!!), but until then, get to know Karmel and Kate through their candid replies to my questions about their journey and session.

Karmel – you went to Mary Washington for Chemistry. How did you make the leap from labs and beakers to layouts and process builders [as an Accidental Admin]?

Like many other young graduates, I did not know what I wanted to do post-graduation. The typical transition for a Chem major was going to grad school but spending 80 hrs in a lab for the next 4 years wasn’t conducive to my extroverted personality. So I focused my efforts on finding a position where I could support scientific development without performing the science. And found my place at a small nonprofit in the DC area supporting their operations and finances. It was also there that I begun my Accidental Admin journey as I became the sole admin after my supervisor transitioned from the organization.

Kate – If you haven’t met my friend (and co-blogger here) Shannon Gregg, we need to make that happen. She also was in Sales Ops and now totally drinks the SFDC kool-aid. How did you get your start with Salesforce – was it through your marketing career, Sales Operations, or something totally different that put you into those roles?

Yes- introduce us please! I love meeting other cool women in Sales Ops (especially those in love with SFDC)! I started with Salesforce as an Accidental Admin at a non-profit in Denver. I’ll never forget… on my first day they asked if I knew what Salesforce was, I said ‘no” and they told me that I was now in charge of it and not to worry- I would learn. Fortunately I was blessed to find an incredible mentor and she not only helped me get settled in my role and understand the org structure, but also inspired me to continue on my Salesforce journey. She was even my certification study buddy! After working as a full-time admin for 3 years I made the move into Sales Ops (last July). It seemed like the next step in my journey and now I get to lead the Salesforce Team at Woodruff Sawyer which is a dream come true! 

Karmel – we’re fellow #SalesforceSwag collectors. What has been your favorite piece of swag…or is there a rare item you’re coveting? (Psst – I think we’re ALL coveting Kate’s Salesforce kicks from her AE!)

To pick just one is next to impossible but I will go with my Salesforce pin gifted to me by the one and only Charlie Isaacs at a DC World Tour event! That year World Tour just happened to fall on my birthday and he was so generous to give it to me as a spontaneous birthday gift. 

Kate – you recently had a chance to BAM [Be a Multiplier] with a friend who thought “being a Salesforce Admin seems really cool”. First of all, they’re 100% right and GO YOU! What was your strategy to help them get started on Trailhead?

It’s funny because I feel like Trailhead is so straightforward so at first I just directed him there. He got set up and then called me and asked “What next?” We got together and had a conversation about what he was really looking for in a Salesforce career and then found some really great Trailmixes to get him started. Of course we included the Admin trails, but we also found some really great industry specific stuff for him and that really helped to personalize his journey. Now it is all about accountability- we are finding time for regular check-ins and I can tell he is going to be an #awesomeadmin! 

You presented at WITness Success on #AccidentalAdminSolutions – ways that we Accidentals can turn our problems into solutions with some of the best tools and tricks you’ve found along your journey. I LOVE surprises and don’t want you to spill the beans about what we covered in the session, but what is one of your can’t live without tools or tricks that we all should know about? 

Karmel – My trick that I cannot live without was taught to me a few months ago. If your email is a google account, you can create email aliases by adding “+[insertwordshere]” before the @ symbol. It changes the game when you need to create test user accounts or test email alerts.

Kate – My personal “can’t live without” is a hidden “Update Record” checkbox on my key objects. There are so many times I want to mark a group of records to update and keep track of them for a little while and this has saved my butt so many times in the past! I use it in reports, it makes my data loader life easier… AND it is one of the things I learned from my first Salesforce mentor. So, thank you Amy!!!

Can you each give a sage word of advice for others who are accidentally on this awesome admin journey? 

Karmel – Document! Document! Document! Document why you created a field in the description field. Document how a process works in a google document. Document change sets you pushed, what they fixed, and why that was the solution. You (and those who come after you) will thank you for having written out that out because I guarantee that in even a month you may not remember what you did and why. 

Kate – Get involved with the Trailblazer Community! We all are working together and there are so many resources available to you! I have learned SO much from my community members and getting involved is not only professionally rewarding, it is fun! Hit up a Salesforce Saturday in your hometown… they often take topic suggestions and are a great resource for working through a project as a group. There are so many ways to accomplish a task/end-result in Salesforce and you can get some great direction. Teamwork makes the Dreamwork!

Check out Kate and Karmel’s  resource guide – #AccidentalAdmin Solutions – it will be updated by the duo as more tips are sent their way! 


Meet Karmel JamesKarmel-James

Karmel is a Certified SFDC Administrator, science nerd (when I met her she was wearing a circuit board dress – way cool!), and member of DC Women in Tech.

You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.






Meet Kate LessardKate-Lessard

Kate is 5x Salesforce certified with a focus on Sales Operations and leader of the Denver Salesforce Administrators Trailblazer Community Group. If you’re looking for her at a Salesforce event, look for her Salesforce Converse – Becky is super jealous!

You can find her on LinkedIn and Twitter.



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