Gemma Blezard is a Salesforce MVP and entrepreneur. Influencer of Salesforce architects, she is the Founder and Co-CEO of The Architech Club, and Founder of the Trailblazer community initiative Ladies Be Architects. She has won several awards, including 2020’s Digital Revolution Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Salesforce ecosystem for her free beginners’ Salesforce course.
mother, tech girl, public speaker, cancerous cat lady, RAF brat, happily divorced, 17x certifi-ed/-able Salesforce architect
I was born in Germany and whenever I’m asked that common question “Where are you from?”, it doesn’t have an easy answer. Through genealogical study it turns out that most of my family were from either side of the Pennines (that’s in England) – so I’m ancestrally of Yorkshire and Lancashire heritage. In reality, I don’t have roots; I have a mish-mash of different accents as a result of an itinerant upbringing. My dad was in the UK military, so we moved around a lot – this continued into adulthood. Believe me, now I’m a mum, I’m proud to have broken the cycle, having been settled in the northerly south-east of England for several years now.
As well as my gorgeous, stubborn, independent, moody, creative, particular and imaginative daughter, I’ve got 2 beautiful little black cats – Lucy and Steve. I call them my familiars and they have nicknames such as Steven, Stephen, Mister, Luciana, Luce and Miss Lucy, Missy, Lucy-Lou etc. Basically anything longer than their own names, which completely defeats the purpose of having a nickname. My young lady and I also have a dog that looks like Simba and behaves like a hyena / cat all in one.
In 2013, my world divebombed when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, at 29, having been married to the ex for a whole month. I had all the treatment you can throw at it, and when it returned in 2018 I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction. It’s been a tough few years, and anxiety was a real battle until I started therapy. I recently underwent schema therapy to deal with many things, and I’m enjoying the single life and the freedom it affords me. Mollie reminds me every day why I bothered having treatment in the first place.
And now, in 2021, I am receiving heavy-duty hormone treatment yet again for breast cancer; it’s unfortunately spread into my lymph nodes and bones.
In 2017 I started this blog. It cathartic and then eventually a place to share my exam revision notes for people who may have found them useful. I write inconsistently (though I’m working on that) – mostly because I go through little bursts of motivation and like to try and share my learnings along the way. Lately (2019+ in fact), not so much. I used to write loads as a teenager. I was sorting some stuff out lately and I found a lot of my essays, journals, diaries, and poetry from my younger years. As a child, I wrote stories, many. I thought the other day – why the hell did I let that slip?! The allure of alcohol, travelling and boys, perhaps. There have been many experiences that have contributed to the individual I am today, all locked away inside my head. It sometimes feels like I’ve led several people’s lives. So many stories; so many missed opportunities to share them and remember them for what I learned from them. Now, I try to share what’s useful in the hope that someone else can benefit from those learnings.
I’m very lucky in that I fell into the world of Salesforce quite by accident in 2008, but have managed to make a successful career out of it, visiting various companies, meeting individuals of many personality types and backgrounds on a regular basis. I get bored easily, so consulting suits me. I get to learn as much as I can about a company in a very short space of time, come up with solutions to meet their requirements, then design and build a system for them to use. The aim is to increase efficiency and make people’s working lives better – it suits me, as I can get creative in order to make a difference. Now the goal has changed significantly; I have been working to become a better architect through certification; this culminates in the objective to become a Salesforce Certified Technical Architect – a rare thing amongst we ladies.
Owning a Business
I’ve been learning the ropes as a new CEO, determined to carve our space as a Salesforce partner with an alternative consulting model. Intrigued? Take a look at The Architech Club.
Moving around a lot has also made me quite partial to a bit of travel and my current job suits me in terms of seeing a bit of the world. These last few years I have been to the US, India, Sweden, France, Germany and the Netherlands – albeit for work – India, in particular, made me see things differently and I recalibrated what’s important in my life. It was an experience that stayed with me. I now love travelling around the world and having Salesforce community conferences to go to makes it even more fun.
I like genealogy; I have over 6,000 individuals in my Ancestry family tree – and counting. I love researching – finding out who I came from and their stories. I recently discovered I have a family link to one of the detectives investigating the Ripper murders in 1888 and I was over the moon. I met my second and third cousins for the first time over the years thanks to our genealogical studies. I get a bit excited about findings, achievements, and history.
Thanks for reading
So that’s me, in a nutshell, I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences – writing for me is now cathartic (as many authors and diarists say it is), so I’m not always thinking about my audience when I write, but I hope you can see this for what it is – a collection of candid thoughts, feelings, and experiences, the occasional rant, maybe sometimes some hints and tips, but hopefully something that can help others as much as it is certainly helping me navigate this twisty-turny thing called Life. Love to you all.