After many industries across the world suffered a significant economic hit during the pandemic, things finally appear to be back on the up as the world begins to recover.
The technology industry in the UK was not alone in being affected by lockdowns, but one of the world’s biggest companies is now looking to use its size and influence to make sure the country’s small businesses are able to bounce back.
With operations the world over, Salesforce is a familiar name to many, and TechRadar Pro spoke to Zahra Bahrololoumi, the new CEO of Salesforce UK & Ireland, to find out what she sees as the future for the company.
Prior to joining Salesforce, Bahrololoumi spent 22 years at Accenture, and although she admits the move has been a big transition, she notes that “I haven’t looked back once.”
“The pace of the business has been extraordinary…and the fact that it feels like it’s all happening in the face of the vortex of everything that’s going on with the pandemic, I really feel like I’m where I need to be.”
She notes that the UK & Ireland business has always traditionally been a strong area for Salesforce as a whole, and that the company can play a significant role in helping the region’s economy bounce back following the pandemic.
“I think we’ve got a massive role to play,” Bahrololoumi notes, “personally I feel a deep sense of responsibility around Salesforce’s role in the UK and Ireland economy and how we power the economic recovery…that is very meaningful and personal for me.”
She says Salesforce can offer a large number of services and tools for businesses of all sizes, with the company’s expertise across a wide range of sectors and industries a key differentiator.
“We’re in a post-pandemic world,” Bahrololoumi says, “organisations today now need to be able to sell, deliver and transact to market and interact from anywhere – and at the heart of that is a digital proposition…and we can help them achieve that.”
“Our role is, how can we be relevant to them, help make them digital-first, and help them be successful from anywhere.”
Much of this comes down to Salesforce’s work with SMBs in the two countries, which Bahrololoumi describes as “the lifeblood of Salesforce”.
“It’s literally the foundation of our business, and it’s a precious segment for us,” she says, “ [and] we know that it’s going to be absolutely crucial that we help SMBs, and it’s going to be a key part of the overall economic recovery.”
Bahrololoumi is also particularly focused on Salesforce’s work in helping improve the digital skills gap, which remains an issue across the UK and Ireland.
“We know that in today’s world, coming into the pandemic, there was a digital skills gap – and the digitisation we’re seeing is further exacerbating that gap,” she notes, highlighting particular inequalities across race and class.
“Our role…is to ensure that we are focusing on building an inclusive approach to skilling, helping life-long learning…and targeting under-represented groups.”
Bahrololoumi says the company is focused on making sure there’s a pipeline of talent for the future; not just for Salesforce, but for the broader ecosystem. The company has greatly expanded its Trailhead online learning platform in recent months, with the UK business leading the way in promoting programs that help groups such as new mothers and army veterans.
With such a wide focus and influence across the UK and Ireland economy, it seems like Salesforce can indeed have a vital role to play in helping the countries bounce back from the effects of the pandemic.
But Bahrololoumi is also focused on her more immediate goals of making sure Salesforce’s customers have exactly what they need to grow and prosper in this new way of working. “If our customers are successful, we’re successful!” she says.