The Power of Partnership
While the 80 degree Fahrenheit shift in temperature from Montreal to Miami was huge, it was easily rivaled by the incredible gathering of knowledge, experience and expertise – assembled at the University of Miami, host of the 2015 Safesforce.com Foundation Higher Education Summit. Over 720 attendees, from colleges and universities across North America, all focused on improving the Connected Campus and the student experience from initial interest to valued alumnus. As a Salesforce.com Foundation Preferred Partner, Diabsolut was enthusiastic to be a Silver level sponsor for this event. Three intense days of learning, listening and exchanging ideas and experiences!
Membership has its privileges
As a Preferred Foundation Partner, the Diabsolut team was invited to attend the preconference session with the Salesforce Foundation Team. From CEO, Rob Acker, to the incredibly dynamic Sales & Marketing team, Alliance Management and Support Crew, we were made to feel very welcome and were pleased to share in the vision and planning of the Salesforce.com Foundation team. I felt overdressed, having left my flashy socks and 100% rayon Hawaiian shirt at home, but will know for next year! Highlights of the day were many, but top of list was being able to attend the Customer Advisory Board panel discussion.
The Voice of the Customer is always optimal in determining what the best course of action should be. The candid opinions and experience based guidance that was provided, confirmed a number of assumptions and forced additional thought to address certain concerns and new opportunities.
The day also provided the opportunity to put faces to names of the Salesforce.com Foundation Account Executives who we had only met previously through e-mails, phone calls and webinars. An exciting team of sales professionals that are focused on the mutual success of the Higher Education Institutions they work with.
Collaboration is King!
First full day of the Summit – registration was incredibly smooth and the 700 plus participants got recorded and rewarded (loot bags!) in record time. To kick-start the morning, the Salesforce.com Foundation welcomed keynote speaker, Lauren Capelin, CKO at Collaborative Lab. Her understanding and vision of the power of communities and collaborative thinking and effort resonated with the entire room.
Following a quick lunch and some intense networking, it was off to the afternoon Breakout Sessions. I was able to attend the Alumni
Communication & Community session, featuring the architects of Alumni Relationship Success for Columbia University and the University of Colorado. What became very obvious from both institutions was that success was the result of the focused vision of a dedicated team, with executive sponsorship, passion for the project, champions for the process and a fundamental belief in the benefits that would be derived. It was also very encouraging to hear both institutions speak highly of the value added alliance partner that helped bring the project to success – and the continuous engagement to keep bringing incremental value. Three inspiration speakers whose clear visions were a key factor in the success they enjoyed.
The final session of the day was attending a “fireside chat” with University of Miami President Donna Shalala. Having already received accolades for her work as Secretary of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration, she took on the role as University President in 2001. In 2008 she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in America. Her down to earth style and ability to relate to the students as individuals, has made her hugely popular and well respected. This was re-enforced by the second year student who took us on a tour of the University and had a personal connection to the President – which was extremely common.
After a full day, we were able to sit outside and enjoy the warm weather and camaraderie of the Higher Education Community. More networking and learning how technology has improved the ability to gain and impart information for all aspects of the Higher Education experience.
All good things must come to an end…
Friday morning meant the last half day session at the 2015 Higher Education Summit – A final chance to connect with so many Salesforce.com and Higher Education advocates and visionaries. The day started with a tour of the fantastic host site, the University of Miami. The volunteer student tour guide was the epitome of what President Shalala had described as the typical U of M student. Extremely bright, genuine, outgoing, multifaceted and both proud and thankful to be a part of University community. It became very evident why U of M enjoys the Alumni support and worldwide recognition it has. An idyllic setting (no snow) and facilities and a faculty that focuses on the best possible student experience. A pretty good football team as well… did I mention that students get tickets to all University sporting events, speakers on campus and other venues?
The morning Plenary Session featured Scott Jaschik, editor of Inside Higher Ed. His global view on the state and direction of Higher Education, both in the private and public education sectors was both pointed and insightful. His anecdotes and real life examples highlighted the issues that are facing Higher Education and the solutions that some institutions have successfully implemented.
The final breakout session – Salesforce Implementations: Return on Experience, was co-presented by Stephanie Brooks, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications for the Ivey Business School of Western University. Stephanie did a masterful job of explaining the Ivey Salesforce.com experience, the wins, the challenges and the commitment to continuous improvement in both process and experience. It was a very proud moment when Stephanie referenced Diabsolut as Ivey’s Value Added Partner in the Salesforce implementation and integration. Her message was very well received and it was evident why she is a member of the Higher Education Customer Advisory Council.
As people scurried off to the airport or the luckier ones – to the beach, we had a last chance to shake hands, confirm next steps, and thank our gracious hosts, the University of Miami and the Salesforce.com Foundation for a Summit packed with great information and even greater people.
It is -32 with the wind chill factor here in Montreal as I look out my window to the 3 foot high snowbanks… I will definitely be following up with all the contacts I made, but may gravitate towards those that require a golf shirt rather than a parka!