The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 8, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Nov. 12.
Next up is Executive Assistant of the Year (Public Company) finalist Lacretia Caldwell Adamski, who’s senior executive assistant at Salesforce. Here, she talks key career moments, pride in her organization and other career advice.
What key achievements did you have in 2019/2020?
In 2020, I’ve had the opportunity to develop a larger network across the company. Earlier this year, I was named Salesforce Woman of the Month, a recognition bestowed upon me by the global Women’s Network — the largest Equality group in the company.
More recently, I collaborated with two colleagues to form a companywide enablement program for executive assistants, creating a platform for ongoing development and training on tools and programs that will impact our executives and organizations. This program is still evolving, but I’m very excited about its potential to become a resource for sharing best practices, onboarding new hires and for our operations organizations to partner with the worldwide administrative team.
I’ve also been able to share my own experience and insight as a featured panelist on webinars hosted by coaching and consulting agencies dedicated to executive support professionals, including Tack Advisors and Executive Leadership Support. This has allowed me to build my network among peers across the country.
What has made you successful in your current role?
To be able to thrive in an environment like Salesforce, you have to have a growth mindset. When I first joined the company in 2013, I had a steep transition into tech sales from my previous position in higher education. As the only EA in the organization at that time, I had to learn (and fail) quickly; any failures I experienced were opportunities for more growth.
Since then, Global Public Sector has seen tremendous growth and success, expanding into Asia-Pacific and Europe while continuing to increase our footprint in North America. To keep up with the demands of our evolving organization, I had to grow along with the business.
Through it all, I’ve developed business acumen and gained a deeper understanding of business operations at a Fortune 500 company. Ultimately, shaping me into a trusted adviser to the executives and the organization that I support.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
Salesforce has a reputation for doing well while doing good. In the face of a global pandemic, the innovation behind Salesforce created even greater opportunities for the Global Public Sector organization to help government agencies and citizens around the world. When COVID-19 first unfolded, the world quickly realized that government agencies were in a unique position to respond to the crisis — first and foremost, to protect citizens and employees and to keep massive operations running seamlessly. Salesforce Global Public Sector provided government agencies with the necessary capabilities to respond quickly and effectively — helping each agency continue to deliver on their mission.
Government agencies around the world were forced to digitally transform in order to continue providing critical services to their citizens and employees. In a matter of weeks, we built and deployed solutions that helped agencies fast-track funding to people and businesses and helped procure and distribute PPE and other critical supplies for first responders.
We also built solutions to support virtual workforces, call center management, contact tracing and workforce readiness. Today, we have COVID-related solutions in 35 states, including California, Rhode Island and cities like New York City and Chicago, to name a few.
Salesforce recently announced our ability to help companies and governments manage the largest vaccination program — through our Work.com Vaccine Management solution — once a vaccine has been approved. Knowing that Salesforce, specifically my organization, has been the catalyst behind this gives me an enormous sense of pride. I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of the Public Sector organization and the work we are doing to support global government.
What’s the biggest professional risk you’ve ever taken?
The biggest professional risk that I’ve taken was initiating a discussion around race with my leadership team in response to the horrific race-based violence and discrimination we all watched unfold earlier this year. I shared how those events deeply affected me as a Black woman, daughter, sister, friend and aunt to two young boys. I was also candid about some of my own experiences that I’d never shared before.
This was a first for me — bringing my authentic self to work and leading with vulnerability. As a direct result of our dialogue, leaders across our organization were inspired to create safe spaces for others to open up voluntarily.
I also partnered with some of our hiring managers, our recruiting team and members of our regional Black employee resource group to find ways to support our corporate mandate to increase the size of our underrepresented minority candidate pool and staffing. This led to sponsoring our first-ever career fair with the National Sales Network. While there is always room for improvement, I’m proud to say that we are already starting to see some results of these efforts.
Looking back at your career, what are you most proud of?
When I look back at my career, I feel incredibly proud to have worked alongside some amazing leaders. Each person had a different leadership style, which has helped me develop my own leadership skills.
The first executive I ever supported, Dr. Denise Rodgers, has and continues to be an inspiration to me as the first Black, female president of a state university in the State of New Jersey. I can’t begin to list all that I’ve learned from her, but a few thoughts that stand out the most are collaborative leadership, integrity and resilience.
My current executives have helped me develop my business acumen. Kevin Paschuck has often pushed me to think bigger, which has inspired me in my professional and personal lives. Our president, Dave Rey, has demonstrated a unique balance of leading with compassion and strength. I’m often impressed with how he has strategically built our organization from the ground. And knowing that in order to do this, he had to quickly earn the respect and support from Marc and the executive leadership team — which he has.
I’m grateful to work alongside leaders who bring out the best in others; that is true leadership. Their investment in me has helped me develop into the leader I am today and will continue to be.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Again, my advice would be to develop a growth mindset. No matter what industry you’re in, be open to new opportunities — or create them. By having a strong relationship with your executive and their leadership team, you know where the gaps are. Develop and nurture a passion in something (even if it’s not work related) — it could help you stand out for that next opportunity around the corner.
And don’t underestimate the power of networking; having a strong network to call upon is crucial. At times, you’ll need to rely on others to learn something new or gain a different perspective. And don’t forget to pay it forward; be sure to be a resource to your peers and those coming behind you.