For the next in our Q&A series, Mat Roche, Third Republic Co-Founder, speaks to Gabriele Hamann who heads up the international IT Sales team at Allianz Global Investors – speaking about her career to date and how she’s powering success in her current role.
Mat Roche (MR): Can you give us an overview of your background?
Gabriele Hamann (GH): I started my career in deep IT – Network programming – at a time when 64kbs landlines were considered high-speed backbone networks and ASCI optimization was used to reduce traffic to allow faster transmission. Over time I transitioned into managing international backbone network projects. My two children “distracted” me from professional work for a few years. When I returned in 2005 I found a new challenge in introducing and developing Salesforce implementations for various different companies and industries. I am still a big fan of Salesforce and today lead a team of experienced and engaged “BAs & developers” in an international setting. It is exciting to work for an Asset Manager. Not only do we deal with new business requirements from around the globe, we are also in charge of ensuring the ever growing compliance requirements worldwide. The ecosystem available in Salesforce and the knowledge in my great team and the collaboration with our Salesforce Success Managers let us find new innovative solutions for all requests so far!
MR: Everybody has heard of Allianz, but can you give us an overview of Allianz Global Investors and how they are different?
GH: Allianz is in the insurance business -you probably know – Allianz Global Investors is an Active Asset Manager. We enable our customers to find investment strategies which fit their goals, enable them to seize new opportunities and invest in our diversified portfolio.
MR: On a personal note, after many successful years in the tech industry working at companies such as SMA Solar Technology and Sophos, why did you make the move to Allianz Global Investors which is probably a different world to what you had experienced before?
GH: All of my previous jobs have been challenging in different aspects and I enjoy challenges! AGI brought the added opportunity to lead a team of well versed admins and developers as well as brining me back to the Frankfurt area where I value the range of outdoor activities as well as Museums, Theatre and concerts available in the Rhein-Main area.
MR: Whats your vision for the Sales Technology team at Allianz GI?
GH: Our main focus is Salesforce and we support the many Integrations to other systems. Our aim is to enable our 750+ international users to get the most out of the CRM system. With Salesforce we support global and regional business processes, help users in their daily work and enable users and management to derive the right conclusions. As we are on the “road to lightning” we have the vision to leverage more Salesforce features to make our Sales Staff more efficient and provide more insights into our AGI Salesforce data.
MR: The team is embarking on an exciting period of team growth. How are your investments in Salesforce helping to drive this growth?
GH: Salesforce is our strategic tool for CRM and our golden source for account, contact and opportunity data. To help our users use this golden source efficiently and effectively we are embarking on the journey to lightning. As Salesforce has been used for many years this journey entails scrutinizing what has already been built many years ago and bring it to an exciting new life with the strong support of our management.
MR: What Salesforce products, applications and interfaces are you currently using and how will this evolve?
GH: We essentially use the Sales and Service cloud. On top Salesforce is connected to multiple other systems – our interfaces are manyfold and we use different technologies depending on the purpose. Salesforce is and continues to be the strategic tool for CRM.
MR: How would you describe the culture within the IT Sales team?
GH: We are an international team, we have an open and honest communication culture and a “can do” mentality. We want to succeed as a team where each individual contribution is part of the solution – so we work to leverage each other’s strengths and help each other where we can. When errors happen, we learn from them.
MR: What type of person matches the DNA of the IT Sales team?
GH: Excitement about Salesforce and its out-of-the-box features, an excitement for implementing processes for added efficiency, an intrinsic wish to challenge the status quo and come up with better solutions. A wish for continual learning (trailhead or otherwise).
A willingness to help resolve issues our userbase may have with Salesforce and taking ownership for resolution.
Team spirit – succeeding as a team, adding value for others, showing appreciation.
MR: What advice can you give to candidates set to interview for your roles?
GH: We are looking for an engaged person with Business Analysis experience paired with technical skills. Have you advised on a new business process? And in subsequence created flows? Flexi-pages? Worked with LWC? Do you keep up to date with release information, certificates etc.? Your hands on experience matters as well as showing your excitement about the role. Let us know how you can add value – and we will be excited to get to know you!
MR: What mistakes have you seen candidates make during the hiring process that have ultimately held someone back?
GH: An interview situation may be daunting. We have an informal interview setup to understand what you are looking for and if this fits to our needs. An interview goes both ways to be a good fit for a longer term perspective. Personality matters minimum 50%, if not more, so be yourself.
MR: With the economic slowdown we’ve seen this year and lots of redundancies, why is moving to Allianz GI still a low-risk option for people?
GH: Hiring at AllianzGI is a well reflected decision, one which takes us to long term achievements and aligns with strategic goals. Hiring, training and bringing a new member of staff into the organization costs a lot of effort. This is recognized in our Management Team and thus decisions to hire are long term commitments.
MR: In your opinion, why would a Salesforce expert already working in a good job consider this opportunity in your team?
GH: We have a great team cohesion and we are looking forward to exciting times. The transition to lightning lies ahead of us which involves revisiting every corner of our Salesforce implementation. This requires a personality with great Business Analysis experience, questioning the “as-is” paired with the knowledge of implementing. Implementation may be as simple as using “out-of-the-box” functionalities provided by Salesforce, using flows or flexi-pages, implementing automations or reviewing existing integrations.
We are paired by the CRM team who does first level support, data analysis and reporting as well as gathering business requirements. You will be working closely with this team to help them provide the best service to their customers (our internal Distribution Sales staff) and help resolve issues at T2/T3 level. Overall this position is responsible for a true value chain. If you like both, the BA and the IT world, if you enjoy to communicate clearly to many stakeholders and thrive when working as a highly qualified Salesforce admin, this position is for you!