May 25, 2021 at 11:00 AM ET

The Salesforce Alumni Story: The Power of Alumni Engagement, Networking, and Connection

How Salesforce approached building, launch and programming their Alumni Community, and how Alumni Experience is a critical component of the overall EX.

Speak to any business community manager, and the conversation will inevitably touch on something they’re doing within the Salesforce environment. There’s crossover in how businesses use the CRM to understand and build an engaged community. 

True to its values, the company has been a leader in community engagement since day one, both in terms of its employees and customers. It really excels and sets the bar for getting people ramped up and rolling in its software. 

More than that, though, Salesforce is an incredible advocate for its people. So much so that it’s earned a place in Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies and Top 100 Best Place to Work.” It’s also one of Forbes’ “World’s Most Innovative Companies.” 

In this hour-long webinar, EnterpriseAlumni catches up with Salesforce’s Theresa Ludvigson and Mira Pitkin. Together they unpack how the company approached building, launching, and the programming of the Salesforce Alumni community.

Guest Speakers:

Theresa Ludvigson has been with Salesforce for fourteen years and is currently the Vice President of Global Onboarding and Loyalty Programs. 

Theresa and her team oversee all elements of global new hire onboarding, employee loyalty programs, and the alumni network. They ensure every new employee is set up for success and warmly welcomed to the company. 

Using the organization’s own technology, the team has transformed the talent experience. From new employee onboarding right through to achieving alumni status, they touch on the entire employee lifecycle.   

Theresa’s mission is to accelerate productivity while delivering equipped, engaged, and inspired employees to become the next generation of culture ambassadors while at Salesforce and beyond. 

Mira Pitkin has been with Salesforce since 2012 and is now the Director of Employee Recruiting. 

Alumni play a big part in the organization’s recruitment strategies as they form a sizable talent pool. Mira’s recruiting team is trained to understand this network and where the candidates come from. 

Salesforce is committed to growing its ecosystem, which includes its partners and customers. In doing that, the company recognizes its alumni as a source of great talent to serve this purpose and the business itself. Their partners can hire people who left Salesforce, as can their customers.

When it comes to recruiting, the company is all about equality and inclusive hiring practices. The team focuses on the candidate’s competencies and experience, giving every person a fair chance at the role.

The Salesforce Alumni Story: Four Core Learnings To Work Through

1. Technology Is Critical For Servicing A Large and Globally Distributed Network

Salesforce’s alumni network is run by a small team that depends heavily on technology and automation to scale its onboarding, loyalty, and alumni programs. These tools enable the team to be highly effective and serve a large, globally distributed network.

When an employee joins the business, they get put onto a customized, automated email journey. This is the team’s way of constantly creating touchpoints to keep the total workforce always in the loop. 

It’s not just a case of sending out content for the sake of it, though. Examine your data to establish what questions employees and alumni are asking at each point of their journey. Anticipate their individual needs and then deliver an experience that makes their lives better before they even know it needed to happen.

2. Embed Alumni Deeply Into The Company Culture

Take a look at Salesforce’s career site, and you will notice their Alumni Spotlight and Boomerang Spotlight stories on it. Essentially, people looking for a job can read about people who have left. 

What this does is tell your talent; yes, you’ve arrived at a career destination. But if you leave, we’re still going to celebrate you, and these are the amazing things you might accomplish here. 

Another way the organization embeds alumni into the culture is through Offboarding Alumni Office Hours. These are events to answer employees’ questions about alumni, introduce them to the Salesforce alumni network, and get them excited about the opportunities for staying in touch.

3. A Successful Program Serves Its Members Before The Business

The most successful alumni programs put the needs of the members first. They have an unbeatable value proposition to engage the network and motivate participation. Often, this means shaking off the notion that success needs to equate to recruiting and business development outcomes. 

Although those are byproducts of Salesforce’s good system, the organization considers brand sentiment and exposure to be a sign of things working. 

For Mira, it’s NPS scores. It’s good feedback from candidates in the interview process and glowing reviews on sites like Glassdoor. 

For Theresa, it’s alumni interviews and spotlights. It’s LinkedIn hits and tracking open and click-through rates on emails that signal engagement and amplification. It’s differentiating an alumni experience with a slack channel dedicated to boomerangs.

4. Make Leaving and Returning An Experience Worth Celebrating

A big piece of Salesforce’s culture lies in the concept of family. The business makes an experience of a new hire entering the workforce and does the same for an alumnus leaving. Celebrating these milestones reinforces the human connection and idea that the person is making the right career move, even if it means leaving the business in the future. 

On orientation day, boomerangs come to speak to new hires to say, hey, I left. But, then I came back, and that’s because this is a great company. 

When boomerangs return, the company sends them a box of brownies that say, welcome home; we’re so glad you’re back. Or they get a t-shirt with Salesforce Boomerang written on the back.

Notable Quotes From The Session

What I do see when boomerangs are back is you receive some really great competitive intelligence.

There’s something to be said about people leaving and getting skills on the outside, building new networks, and then bringing them back home.

Finding a career for someone is a life event for them. So it’s amazing that people are really excited to come and join Salesforce.

Focus on people and what goes into the employee experience. If you treat employees who are going to leave in a way that makes them feel supported, they will want to come back. They are going to tell someone else about how amazing the company is and be your cheerleader.  

We don’t want it to be a sad day when you leave Salesforce. We actually celebrate your next chapter with you.

An employee walking out the door doesn’t have to be the last goodbye. Onboard them to your alumni program; celebrate their past, current, and future successes, and it will return to you in the form of continued collaboration.


Theresa Ludvigson, Vice President of Global Onboarding and Loyalty Programs at Salesforce

Mira Pitkin, Director of Employee Recruiting at Salesforce

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