We are not in the business of straight lines and clear pathways. Business process modelling is a windy game of snakes and ladders; a riddle that requires you to fly high above the board to spot the hidden opportunities. Every once in a while, somebody comes along who is equal parts talented at building the ladders and slaying the snakes, and here at Cloudwerx, that man is Chris Baldock.
Chris is the Chief Technology Officer at Cloudwerx, and holds the rare and highly valued Salesforce Certified Technical Architect certification. It’s something of a golden ticket that has bought Chris plenty of attention over the years, and not without good cause — since first starting out with Salesforce in 2011, Chris has risen through the ranks at extraordinary speed. He’s one of our greatest assets, and a Salesforce superstar.
And yet, we all must start somewhere. For Chris Baldock, that was a decade ago as an unsure young graduate in London. “After leaving university, I started at Accenture with their graduate program,” remembers Chris. “During the training they ask what kind of projects you’re interested in. Well, I had no idea. Luckily, we all found ourselves paired up to projects that simply needed people, and that’s where my career began.”
Unsurprisingly, Chris’s first few years as a consultant didn’t ignite great fireworks of inspiration — for him, both the projects and the people lacked a personal connection. He craved problem solving and creativity, out-of-the-box thinking and imagination. Chris wasn’t a natural-born worker, see: he cruised through much of school without any thought of studying, and had to force himself to focus through university. He was brilliant, talented, and eager; but without the pressure of a difficult challenge, was quite simply bored.
It wasn’t until a serendipitous interaction with then-Accenture practice lead Daniel Le Jehan (now Global Salesforce Lead and partner at KPMG) that Chris was introduced to the world of Salesforce. It was an immediate attraction — the technical aspect appealed to Chris’s love for coding and development, whilst the highly interactive customer aspect tended his need for human-based solutions. After a skirmish with management — Daniel had to fight to ‘steal’ Chris away — a deal was brokered, and Chris started his first Salesforce project for a pharmaceutical company outside of London.
“I loved the job, but I was young and ready for an adventure. Eventually, my girlfriend — now wife — and I decided to move to Australia,” says Chris. “I initially hoped to move with Accenture, but the process was slow and in the end I found myself a role with Cloud Sherpas in Sydney.”
With warmer weather, a new role, and several years of Salesforce experience under his belt, Chris was embarking on a new chapter in his career. Also starting out at this time on his own journey was Cloudwerx CEO Toby Wilcock. The two were paired up on their first day at Cloud Sherpas, and became fast friends. Over their two and a half years at the company, they shared projects and sharpened their Salesforce credentials before both moving over 2016/ 2017 to SaaSfocus. It was here that Chris decided to take a risk that would end up shifting his career forever — he would sit the Salesforce Certified Technical Architect board.
For those unfamiliar with the Salesforce ecosystem, this is a grueling process. It’s rumoured that less than 15% of candidates who apply will succeed, and at a whopping $9,000 AUD to simply apply, only around thirty people in Australia hold this position; with almost half of those working directly for Salesforce. To sit, and pass, as an external consultant is rare indeed.
Nonetheless, Chris had spent almost seven years working with Salesforce by this stage. He knew, from feedback of both his colleagues and his clients, that he had something different to the rest — and it was time for him to put that to the test. And here’s what that test involves: after a short briefing at Salesforce HQ, the candidate is issued with a booklet outlining a hypothetical client project and the specific requirements. You are then given two hours to create a complex end-to-end solution, and 45 minutes to present it to a panel of CTA-certified judges. After an additional 45 minute Q+A session, the candidate is then sent away to, well, wait.
It took three goes at the infamous test before Chris was finally accredited. When he did, it was a momentous leap forward in his relationship with Salesforce, and a signifier that when it comes to building out innovative, cutting-edge solutions, Chris Baldock was the person you needed. And he began to believe that, too.
“The very process of applying for the CTA certification makes you a better architect,” says Chris. “You spend so many hours studying and iterating that you cannot help but hone your skills. For me, this was so much more important than the title. I knew, deep down, I was a better architect for it.”
Perhaps noticing more than others was colleague Toby Wilcock, who approached Chris with a proposition: to build their own company. And so Cloudwerx was born. At a point in his career than many might decide to stop and enjoy the spoils of their success, Chris did the very opposite. Along with Toby and their third business partner, Miha Remec, Chris started to build out a new and innovative method of using Salesforce to improve business experiences across the country.
In fact, the quickly growing business was pushing Chris into roles that he had never before considered. Once a purely technical man, he was now delving into human-led innovations. If coding was his first love, now it was the people he was coding for. Chris names one of his favourite projects to date as My Plan Manager, a project for Australia’s National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS]. Here, he was given the chance to create real change, for real people, that he could meet and interact with. It’s this genuine passion for problem solving for people that is the cornerstone of the Cloudwerx offering today.
Looking into the future, Chris shows no signs of slowing down.
“When you look at the People-Process-Technology pyramid of methodology that our industry works within,” says Chris, “Technology has made up so much of my career to date. So for me, it’s now about committing myself to people and process. How can technology improve lives?”
It’s this approach that makes Chris Baldock so unique indeed. For more rare than a CTA certification is the person who reaches the top — and decides to keep going.