Michael Parker, vice president of business development with Salesforce, recently spoke with ExecutiveBiz regarding the reasons why he wanted to join the company in his current role and bring his 34 years of experience in the public sector to the Salesforce team.
In addition, Parker also discussed the core values of the company culture that have driven its success as well as the Salesforce Military Program, the IT modernization challenges that DOD and federal agencies are facing and how the organization looks at recruiting in the federal sector during the latest Executive Spotlight interview.
“Software-as-a-service is a growth area. It’s a significant growing area and in DOD there’s a recognition and a realization of the true total cost of ownership and business value that the software-as-a-service delivers. The ability to scale beyond the initial solutions is a tremendous business proposition for our customers.”
You can read the full Executive Spotlight interview with Michael Parker below:
ExecutiveBiz: Why did you want to join Salesforce and what were the attributes of its mission that attracted you to the role? What do you hope to accomplish with the company?
Michael Parker: “After serving more than 34 years in the public sector as a servant leader, 20 years of which were on active duty in the Marine Corps, I was eager to transition to new opportunities. I started my career at the Marine Corps recruit depot in San Diego in 1986.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being a guest of honor there for the recruit training graduation. It always brings me back home to my roots and makes me realize why I joined the Marine Corps to serve my country and achieve my national call to service that continued during my 34-year career.
I continued that service after my 20 active duty year career transitioning into ‘civil service’ and eventually senior executive service between the Marine Corps, the Department of Navy and the Air Force before I joined the Salesforce team.
Ultimately, I was looking for something similar to my military experience and my role in the public sector. I wanted to continue to support the defense department mission and support driving digital transformation across both DoD and the Global Public Sector.
During my career, I was offered opportunities with demanding leadership positions. These positions had a tremendous amount of breadth and depth of scope and responsibility. I wanted that same challenge – to join an organization that had a rich culture as well as could feel a sense of belonging.
I’m able to drive business transformation through ‘executive alignment’ here at Salesforce where I connect with our executive customers across the global public sector by supporting IT modernization efforts and business transformation.
Salesforce is an amazing company. The culture and core values were very attractive to me Salesforce is a people organization designed around our very own Customer 360 model that enables a customer centric-approach to the digital experience for all of our customers and we leverage that same approach internally.
As an organization, the Department of Defense is facing enormous challenges today around modernization and transformation. Salesforce is that trusted partner to achieve that modernization as well as our customers’ transformation goals and outcomes.
These challenges in recent years have necessitated a rethink about the players in the global public sector that think about the business strategy aspects and how they execute that strategy with Salesforce..
We drive a complete digital experience and work environment for our customers. We are the world’s most trusted cloud platform and we are very well positioned to help our customers and their government partners achieve mission readiness, improve operational efficiency and more effectively serve constituents on this secure and compliant platform.
Salesforce is a game-changing digital transformation enabler for our entire global public sector and the Department of Defense is poised for unparalleled achievement.”
ExecutiveBiz: What are the core values that are important to your company’s culture? How has your team developed the Salesforce platform to drive success for the Department of Defense in such a competitive market?
Michael Parker: “When you look at our company culture and philosophy, we have five core values. Our top priority is trust. That’s why no other company better understands the importance of relationships than Salesforce. The core of every strong relationship is trust.
Our founders understood that to build a strong and thriving company and we continue to hold trust above all other values. We ingrained that conviction in every Salesforce employee from their first day, and it’s a constant reminder that trust is our number one value.
Salesforce culture embraces the spirit of Ohana. We are all a family supporting one another and walking the journey with our customers every step of the way. We focus as another core value on customer success. We’re meeting customers to enable them from a strategic perspective.
We work with customers both strategically and tactically. We openly expect to achieve great customer success across our customer base and we want to be with our customers every step of the way. We’re always providing additional enablement and support to ensure that success.
Internally, we have a tremendous ecosystem of equality groups and programs. The ones most near and dear to my heart are VetFoce and the Salesforce Military Program.
We use a tool called ‘Trailhead’ that is one of our training tools. It’s organic and inherent to the Salesforce platform. It’s a free online learning platform that helps anyone develop their skills for jobs in both Salesforce specifically, or in that partner ecosystem.
One of the goals of Salesforce Military is to 80,000 veterans and military spouses by 2026 and we’re continuing to help them connect with companies and partners that are a part of our Salesforce partner ecosystem. This helps address the 23 percent of military spouses who are under-employed and the 1.6 million unemployed veterans and reservists.
My daughter, my wife and I are all part of the Salesforce Military program and we constantly support other veterans and spouses who are signing up for the program. We enjoy the mentoring process that also connects Salesforce with potential employers.
To date, we can report that 85 percent of veterans who have completed the program have received a full-time job offer with an average salary of $87,000
In terms of how we’re developing the Salesforce platform to drive success for the DoD in such a competitive market. There’s been a lot of focus on cloud migration and all the benefits associated with migrating to the cloud, whether that’s infrastructure hosting support or software-as-a-service.
Our DoD team, made up of many veterans, has delivered incredible results across DoD and continues to do so every day. We have many veterans on our team that are on the sales side and some are business development veterans like myself.
We have veterans in engineering that went through our Salesforce military program and are now delivering what we call pre-sales engineering demonstrations.
We’ve addressed the challenges and revealed transparent ways to achieve strategic goals and imperatives through our platform. Salesforce is the number one CRM platform and offers rapid deployment of capabilities supporting digital engagement.
The Salesforce platform brings together customers, partners and employees to augment existing infrastructure to deliver what we call five key value propositions. A digital experience of connected services workforce engagement and cyber risk mitigation.”
ExecutiveBiz: As the Department of Defense continues to be heavily influenced by IT modernization and a wide range of other initiatives to improve its networks, platforms and data, what are the greatest improvements that are being developed and what else needs to be addressed?
Michael Parker: “There’s been a strong focus and effort in the federal government and specifically with the DoD around cloud migration and cloud adoption. Most of the focus has been ‘infrastructure-as-service’ when we discuss cloud adoption. There are multiple levels of cloud adoption: from infrastructure as a service to platform as a service and software as a service.
If you think about that in terms of tiered support, Salesforce as a platform or software as a service solution allows our customers and our end users to reduce all of the complexity associated with managing the infrastructure. That also includes managing the data centers, managing software releases and sustainment of the core/legacy business systems.
The infrastructure work that we’re seeing in the DoD has made significant progress towards network modernization and infrastructure modernization. In some cases, the infrastructure is simply lifting and shifting a system or an application out of a data center and into a cloud-hosted environment.
In other cases, it’s a refactoring approach where significant software redesigns need to occur. I see the greatest growth and adoption for DoD will be around software-as-a-service adoption. It needs to go further with software-as-a-service because it’s different in terms of how you govern and implement these solutions.
The process is much easier without having the complexity and the requirements of designing the infrastructure and managing the software that’s all delivered as a service. You have the ability to adopt what we call the ‘rapid speed of deployment’ and continuous iterative configuration through the Salesforce low-code, no-code platform.
The adoption of this secure, scalable and always available platform allows business leaders to focus on improving the experience and the outcomes by leveraging the platform. It also supports inheritance and rapid certification to implementation from a security and a business certification perspective.
Our software-as-a-service solution is a multi-tenant platform, it’s the same platform across the DoD that’s just been uniquely configured for each customer. We’ve been able to increase readiness and meet mission objectives by using unified cloud-based solutions. This allows the DoD to align business, operational functions and processes at a lower cross across DoD.
In addition, it also offers the ability to completely reimagine or streamline business processes across the mission area while incorporating the ‘voice of the customer.’ The ability to leverage end users and subject matter experts to contribute to the design and the expectation of the deliverable and how that digital experience is changing helps focus on agile support and rapid delivery.
We also leverage a human-centered design approach to the user experience that puts the customer, the end user, at the center of the Customer 360 model in order to incorporate their input and feedback throughout the process. I believe software-as-a-service adoption is the greatest growth area this fiscal year.”
ExecutiveBiz: We often discuss innovation for existing members of the Department of Defense. How does Salesforce see itself helping with recruiting and reaching new talent?
Michael Parker: “I’ve been here at Salesforce for over 18 months now. It’s been a great experience for me to work across our global public sector, but really focus on the Department of Defense to help senior leaders and program managers truly transform the way businesses perform and the way that services are delivered to our military members in 2022 and beyond.
Software-as-a-service is a growth area. It’s a significant growing area and in DoD there’s a recognition and a realization of the true total cost of ownership and business value that the software-as-a-service delivers. The ability to scale beyond the initial solutions is a tremendous business proposition for our customers.
The government is always changing. There’s an annual strategy published. There’s an annual budget executed. As you look specifically at the new DoD strategies, policies and procedures, they are constantly being adjusted, modified or changing.
At Salesforce, we have the flexibility to meet those dynamic changes that occur in any climate and place. We know that strategies and plans drive execution and operation. Salesforce as an enabling flexible system of engagement platform allows our customers to continue to adjust based on these changing strategies and plans.
As we continue to focus across the business mission area and the operational environment, Salesforce can continue to drive major outcomes and create a new digital transformation experience for service members and their families and senior leaders alike. Our focus is enabling transformation in direct support of mission accomplishment, readiness, resiliency, and delivering the outcomes our customers deserve and expect.”