Meet Amanda Hall, Who Went From PI to EA to HR
What was your first job? Somewhere behind a cash register? Temping in an office? Amanda Hall, now an Employee Success Business Partner at Salesforce, started her career as a Private Investigator.
“I learned very early on in my career that the majority of people were willing to impart knowledge and guidance if you ask, and I spent seven years as a PI learning as much as I could from anyone who would give me their time,” says Amanda.
After learning to navigate through the wide variety of challenges and conflicts that come with the work, she was ready for a change, however it was after she had her daughter, that she knew she had to find an employer that was flexible and supportive of working parents. She also wanted a company with a strong philanthropic focus.
Eventually, she found Salesforce.
We chat with Amanda about how she’s reinvented her career and some of the volunteer work she’s been involved in during her time with the company. If you’re interested in pivoting careers, keep reading to learn how Amanda’s path evolved.
Q. What exactly does a Private Investigator do?
There are two types of investigators, Surveillance (covert) and Factual (overt), and two very different skillsets for each. Covert is quite isolating. You could spend up to eight hours in a car watching a house or an individual. Overt is more investigative. You perform interviews and complete a report.
While I worked on both, my passion was always factual investigations. I’m an extrovert and spending too much time alone is not for me. I did a lot of “skip tracing” which is locating people who don’t want to be found. I remember one particular case where I was looking for an individual who had stolen money from his elderly mother, which led to her needing to stay in a government-run nursing home. It took me months to locate him, but I did. It was such a great moment as his mother was able to retrieve the money that had been stolen and use it to move into a private nursing home.
Q. What skills from your previous experiences did you feel you could apply at Salesforce?
As a PI, I learned to be inquisitive, adaptable, and solution-focused. When I left, I wasn’t sure what my next move should be so I started from scratch working in an administrative role at a cruise company. I then transitioned into an Executive Assistant role and really loved the work as I could use a lot of my natural skills such as organisation, working to a goal and focussing on juggling multiple priorities. So when I joined Salesforce as an Executive Assistant, I quickly discovered that it is a very fast-paced company — we’re always looking for ways to innovate and being able to flex and adapt has been key.
Q. What’s something you weren’t expecting about Salesforce when you first joined? What’s your favourite thing about working here?
I wasn’t expecting to be part of so many exciting and diverse projects. During my five years here, I’ve been involved with projects such as our annual “Take Your Kids to Work Day” program, organising the volunteer participants at Sydney World Tour, launching our Family and Domestic Violence Policy, and bringing awareness to some of our great volunteering partners such as WheelEasy, Dress for Success, and School for Life.
Q. We hear you’ve reached Volunteer Rockstar status (a title we give to employees who volunteer 56+ hours per year) several times now. Tell us about some of the incredible contributions you’ve made?
I love volunteering and giving back to the community and I have hit Volunteer Rockstar status every year. Last year I was extremely lucky to be able to share that with my family, when my partner and I travelled to Cambodia with my now seven-year-old daughter. We spent a week building a house for a local family just outside of Siem Reap and it was extremely rewarding to see the house take shape and to be able to present it to the family on our last day. It was also amusing to see that for children, the universal language of playing was easily understood. We would leave the building site every day covered head to toe in dirt, the adults from the physical build, and children from playing in the local village!
Q. You now work as an Employee Success Business Partner (ESBP) at Salesforce. What is a typical day like for you?
The ESBP role varies greatly day-to-day, and requires the ability to guide a wide range of Employee Success (Salesforce’s term for Human Resource) topics. No two days are the same, and on any given day I may be providing support to someone returning from parental leave, providing guidance on business structure, supporting a career conversation and development, providing feedback to an individual, or working on Employee Success projects, such as providing support to Australia and New Zealand employees during this pandemic.
No matter what I’m working on, it always comes back to impact. Whether it’s positive or more difficult, I have to step back and use an empathetic lens. There are processes and procedures, but we ensure that everyone is treated with respect.
Q. How has Salesforce transformed your life — personally and/or professionally?
When I first joined Salesforce, I started as an Executive Assistant and was very content in that role. I think it was my second year supporting our APAC Vice President of Employee Success, that I mentioned an interest in Human Resources and I received an overwhelming amount of support, not just from my manager but the wider Employee Success team. They offered mentoring, shadowing, and coffee catch-ups. This continued throughout my part-time study and the eventual transition into my current role, as an ESBP. Not only was I encouraged to pursue this new career and actively supported by my manager, but my study was fully subsidised by Salesforce’s Education Reimbursement program.
Q. What advice do you have for others who are looking to make changes to their career journey?
I’d say “think about your values and what motivates you, and look for a company that aligns.” As I learned early on, most people are willing to connect and share their knowledge if you reach out.
When I was starting out as a Private Investigator, there weren’t really roles advertised, (most roles were word of mouth), so I went through the Yellow Pages, got the address of every firm in the Sydney area and mailed them my cover letter and resume. That was a very manual way to do it, and connecting via email is probably the preferred method these days, but it did work and I was able to seize an opportunity that I would not have otherwise had.
Interested in updating your career? Indicate your interest to the Salesforce Recruiting team.
Editor’s Note: Amanda is now an Employee Success Business Partner Senior Manager