Anyone in the Salesforce ecosystem knows music is always a fixture at any Salesforce event. For example, Dreamforce attracts world-class musicians to perform for attendees with past acts that include Metallica, Fleetwood Mac, Stevie Wonder, U2, Alicia Keys, and Foo Fighters, and musical guests are often invited to perform at smaller Salesforce events.
CRM Science Developer Nate Pepper said he understands why music is so important to those working in technical roles. According to Pepper, “It's not only the mathematical relationship of notes and beats to steps in an algorithm, but it’s also the creative aspect. In both cases, you're starting with a blank slate and basic tools, and you create something from nothing with them.”
When he’s not creating CRM solutions on the Salesforce platform, Pepper plays many instruments including saxophone, drums and keyboards, and he even creates music digitally as a DJ.
Connecting music to programming
Music has always been part of Pepper’s life, but becoming a Salesforce developer wasn’t exactly in his plans.
Growing up in “the boonies” of California, Pepper was so dedicated to his role on the high school marching band that he convinced his mother to move to a new school district with a bigger marching band program to serve as drum major. “Music was a big part of my life early on,” said Pepper.
As with most Millennial-aged individuals, Pepper grew up in an analog world while witnessing the birth of the Digital Age. With his creative spirit guiding the way, Pepper wanted to learn how Web programming works when it was still a fairly new concept for most people. He asked his father to help him learn programming, and Pepper’s father purchased Visual FoxPro for him.
“It was kind of like giving a kid who wants to learn programming Microsoft Access. It was nothing like they have today with Scratch, Python for Kids, or Code.org,” said Pepper.
Landing the first Salesforce job
Early exposure to computer programming laid the foundation for Pepper’s future career as a Salesforce developer. While he didn’t study computer science like many Salesforce developers, Pepper’s education provided him with experience in coding for data analysis in the social sciences.
While studying cognitive science at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), Pepper practiced coding through coursework that required him to create a simple game using code. “I made a Java applet that was a Simpson’s themed matching game where the cards are flipped over and you have to match Bart to Bart and Homer to Homer,” said Pepper. However, Pepper didn’t start working in a technical role until a few years after college.
Pepper graduated from UCLA during the global financial crisis of 2008, and he spent about two years working in part-time and temporary roles as an Excel data-entry clerk. When he grew tired of completing manual tasks he felt could be automated, Pepper used his programming skills to build automations.
Pepper found his first full-time permanent job with a tutoring company in 2010 where he worked as an Excel programmer. The tutoring company adopted Salesforce two days after Pepper joined the company, and he eventually became the company’s accidental Salesforce administrator.
Becoming a Salesforce Advanced Developer
In the years since his first job in the Salesforce ecosystem, Pepper has earned 12 Salesforce certifications, four superbadges, and he is a Trailhead Ranger. He has filled various roles working as an in-house Salesforce administrator, business analyst, and developer, as well as working as a Salesforce consultant. He joined the CRM Science team as an advanced Salesforce developer in May 2018.
As an advanced developer, Pepper works with a team to understand client requirements, build high-quality solutions, deploy, and optimize as needed. However, working with the CRM Science team pushes Pepper to learn more about his areas of expertise.
“Everyone at CRM Science is a sharp cookie, but not everyone specializes in the same thing. So, by spreading our knowledge across the team, we can each go deeper into our specializations,” said Pepper.
The focus on going deeper into specializations has prompted Pepper to learn about new concepts and expand his skillset. As a result, Pepper has completed several projects while working at CRM Science that are far beyond the level of difficulty he would have imagined for himself a few years ago.
Prior to joining the team at CRM Science, Pepper worked on a project for a previous employer where he assisted with debugging an integration between Oracle and Salesforce. He said he would identify areas to debug and then relay the information to his boss who would then write the code to complete the projects. Nine years later and after many hours learning SQL, Pepper said he was able to write the code on a similar project for a CRM Science client. “I wrote hundreds and hundreds of lines of database code that I never imagined I would be doing,” said Pepper.
Embracing the Lab Coat at CRM Science
Pepper said he loves being part of the CRM Science team because of the collaboration between team members. Using a variety of digital tools, the fully remote team stays engaged with one another while working.
The CRM Science headquarters is in King of Prussia, Pa., but team members like Pepper, who lives in the Los Angeles area, feel like they are working together every day. Pepper is often a fixture during monthly company happy hours held virtually, and he is always quick to offer a joke or share his latest instrumental adventures in the company chat groups.
Pepper said he has worked for companies that seemed siloed in comparison to CRM Science, and the disconnect between departments can cause missed opportunities to utilize company resources to the fullest potential. CRM Science has a company chat group that is used to post questions and tips for all employees to see. “If somebody at our company knows the answer to your technical question, you will find out within 24 hours,” said Pepper.
In addition to the collaboration, Pepper is excited about the emphasis on what he calls “next-level innovation” at CRM Science. He said that many companies using Salesforce tend to use the bare minimum features while sacrificing functionality that could be beneficial.
“There is a lot of sophistication at CRM Science around cutting-edge advanced development topics,” said Pepper. He said a great example of this deeper understanding of innovation is the CRM Science method of Continuous Integration and Continuous Delivery (CI/CD). While there is a well-known prescribed method for CI/CD, CRM Science’s next-level innovation has allowed the lab coat team to find a better way to complete those tasks.
Using Creativity in Salesforce Development
While advanced Salesforce development and consulting is quite scientific, it takes a great deal of creativity to do it well. So, it’s no surprise that the lab coat experts at CRM Science are a creative group of individuals with many musical influences.
Pepper said he embraces the creative side of development for the same reason he enjoys making music. “I love being able to not only create amazing things by standing on the shoulders of giants, but there’s also the aspect where I’m creating something out of nothing. You have an idea, you want it to be real, and you can do that from nothing,” said Pepper.
Contact the Lab Coat Experts
As Pepper so eloquently stated, the lab coat team is a highly specialized group with a range of expertise and experience. Check out our open positions if you think you have what it takes to wear the lab coat.
At CRM Science, we use our Salesforce expertise to transform your enterprise. Partnering with our clients throughout the Salesforce journey, we strategize and optimize business processes, and develop solutions across every Salesforce cloud. CRM Science is an award-winning Salesforce Silver Consulting Partner and a Salesforce.org Registered Partner.
Contact us to chat about your Salesforce projects.