Jaylena Lomenech is a Customer Success Specialist at Salesforce in San Francisco. In her role, Jaylena provides strategic recommendations and technical solutions to help the company’s marketing customers achieve their business goals.
At Bonhams, the international auction house where she began her career, Jaylena developed a system to track fine art inventory, sparking her enthusiasm for CRM systems.
A passionate advocate for diversity in the arts and technology, Jaylena is the Strategic Partnership Lead of BOLDforce, the Black Organization for Leadership and Development at Salesforce. As a champion for people from all regions of the African Diaspora, Jaylena sits on various committees including San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Petaluma Blacks for Community Development, The San Francisco Chapter of the National Black MBA Association and the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. In addition, Jaylena is an Ambassador for the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.
Jaylena graduated from California State University, Northridge with a BA in History and completed her MBA at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Jaylena talks to us about how she transitioned from the arts to a career in tech.
MY FIRST JOB
My first job was at a company called Avery Dennison. As a Junior Administrative Assistant, my role was to provide support to the Senior Administrative Assistant of the Director, by managing her calendar, proof-reading documents and managing office supply inventory. I believe I was 16 at the time.
Avery Dennison makes adhesive labels for the stickers used for organizing folders, the gold star you received when you achieved good grades in school, all the way through to food packaging labels and clothing price stickers.
MY FIRST BIG CAREER BREAK
I’ve worked in various industries – food, travel, retail, museums and nonprofits. All of them were leading me to Salesforce and technology. My best friend had a successful career with Salesforce and recommended that I look at roles there.
At the time, I was seeking a transition from the arts sector into technology. This change required my perspective to shift from thinking in terms of color representation, hidden messages in sculpture, and political innuendos in paintings to hidden fields in forms, custom redirects on websites and blogging capabilities to allow companies maximum customer outreach. It wasn’t easy but I am never one to walk away from a challenge. I buckled up and took the express route.
In under four years, I managed to achieve two Salesforce certifications, a Global MBA degree and travel to Dubai, Uganda and Rwanda. During my time in Rwanda, I implemented a strategy to scale a nonprofit, focused on eliminating malnutrition. I also led and grew a team focused on supporting black employees at Salesforce while delivering financial support to our adopted school, United for Success Academy in Oakland.
MY BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT
Obtaining my Global MBA degree from Saint Mary’s College of California represents a significant achievement for me. This was an important goal that I set years ago, but life had a way of interrupting even my best laid plans. In May 2019, I was able to see this goal come to fruition. Continually learning and sharing my knowledge has been, and will continue to be, a priority for me.
I’m still very passionate about arts and culture. When I am not focused on ensuring that I deliver exceptional service to marketing customers, I focus on creating programming and community engagement initiatives for Petaluma Blacks for Community Development. This is a 40-year-old nonprofit focused on educational programs that highlight the achievements of African Americans in Sonoma county and beyond.
I’m also a member of the marketing committee for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, where I provide marketing strategy recommendations for the museum, especially where it relates to membership growth and engaging people of color, especially in the Bay Area.
I recently stepped into two new roles. The first as Ambassador of The Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce, more commonly known as the RSA for the Bay Area. I bring members, known as Fellows, together to drive strategy and skill-share opportunities that focus on solving some of the world’s most pressing challenges such as climate change, clean water accessibility, trauma related to sex abuse, and access to healthy, diverse food options. In my second role, I’m a member of the programming committee for the San Francisco chapter of The National Black MBA Association, where I focus on strengthening partnerships with key stakeholders in the community who support our mission.
MY TYPICAL WORKING DAY
Each morning, I check my calendar to see what awaits me for the day and reply to some of the emails and texts that came through overnight. When I arrive at the office, I reply to customer questions related to our product functionality. I recommend solutions to help our customers achieve their marketing objectives.
Around lunch time, I shift focus to work on BOLDforce activities. BOLDforce is our employee resource group at Salesforce. We focus on career development retention strategies with leadership, mentoring and educational outreach to our community. This can consist of meetings with my team, managing partnerships with internal and external stakeholders, or budgeting. Later in the afternoon, I may participate in a meeting with one of the nonprofit organizations I support.
A favorite pastime is to daydream about travel or make future travel plans. It really is an obsession! I also enjoy discovering new hike trails that my husband, our dog Fleur, and I can explore.
Cooking multiple-course meals, enjoying the company of friends, and tending to my beautiful rose garden are my meditation methods. Exploring and reviewing new businesses and destinations on Yelp and finishing as many fascinating books as possible round out the ways I spend my time when not focused on work. I do enjoy a good weight-lifting session at the gym, from time to time.
I’m always inspired by talented individuals, especially women of color, like Ava Duvernay and Michelle Obama. They are making remarkable strides to create opportunities for people of color to be represented in various mediums in powerful, positive ways.
My secret talent is reading music. I played the violin for many years and dabbled at the piano. I graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts in Los Angeles, a school that focused on teaching visual and performing arts. It was such an epic experience. I’m also a pretty good cook and enjoy trying new recipes from different cultures.
BEST CAREER ADVICE
The best career advice I ever received is don’t look at failure as defeat. Look at it as an opportunity to reflect, pivot, then crush it the next time. Also, to be brave and recognize and honor my bravery in taking the step to do whatever it was that I set out to achieve.
I’m super pumped about 2020! I will continue to pursue advanced education, ensuring that I am equipped with the knowledge and expertise needed to execute efficiently.
One of my goals is to create a platform that will help provide educational opportunities for visual and performing artists in the technology industry. We’re in the age of digital art, and electric instruments have been in use for many generations. I believe it’s important to ensure the next generation of creative artists is equipped with the knowledge and skills to be able to perform in a variety of mediums that use technology. Studies have shown that the impact of the arts on a young mind has a tremendous impact on their cognitive, social and emotional development.
Art students are 55% more likely to attend a post secondary school, compared to non-arts students. For every year they continue to study and perform arts, these same students are 29% more likely to earn a four-year-college degree, as compared to non-arts students. And, when you bring art and technology together, you allow for diversity of thought and a major opportunity to innovate using both sides of the brain. I also believe that someone interested in technology may also be interested in museum operations and art.
I LOVE WHAT I DO BECAUSE…
I love supporting philanthropic initiatives, especially where it relates to visual and performing arts. At some point in my own journey, I was a young student given an opportunity to excel. I can say without a doubt that reinforcement of skill, diligence and self-commitment has prepared me and led me to where I am today.
I’m fortunate to work for a company that supports my growth, supports my values as a woman of color and encourages me to use my skills. My journey to Salesforce has not been a straight line, I can honestly say that everything I have done prior has led me to this very moment. For that I have all the blessings in the world, and I’m grateful.
Interview by Octavia Goredema
Octavia Goredema is an award-winning career coach, writer and the founder of Twenty Ten Talent. You can connect with her on Instagram, LinkedIn or over on Twitter.