THE SKILLS & TALENT ADVOCATE
Ursula Fear, Senior Talent Programme Manager – Salesforce.
Ursula Fear has been a pioneer in building critical and scarce skills for over 20 years, having worked in more than 40 occupations and helped establish an education NGO in addition to her work in the legislated training world. Currently, Fear is leading the charge in sustainable digital skills and initiatives, spearheading efforts to grow Salesforce skills in South Africa and Africa. Her five-pillar strategy includes short-, medium-, and long-term plans, with a focus on standardizing competency excellence and building depth and breadth of skills. By doing so, she aims to create sustainable skills in South Africa, reducing the country’s reliance on expensive imported skills. Fear’s pioneering approach to business and social change sets the standard for the industry.
Q. What inspired your path into the tech industry?
I think many people like myself got into the tech industry by accident. I was lucky enough to find myself in the SAP world initially. I worked for an organisation called Pebbletree, which soon became Brighthouse and now NTT. I became passionate about development in the tech space then. I was given the role of creating black SAP consultants for the country. At the time, there were only 90 black-certified consultants against the 2000 white-certified consultants in the country. I became passionate about development in the tech space then.
Long story short, I spearheaded the design of the only ERP qualifications in the world. We subsequently then added 10% of the black consultants to the SAP market through this initiative.
Q. What is the best aspect of being a woman in tech?
I think the world of the technology enables us to have fit-for-purpose skills. It gives us the ability to remain relevant and be actively involved in a changing world.
Q. How does Salesforce empower women to grow within the industry?
Salesforce is an incredibly progressive organisation when it comes to the development of females in tech. In fact, it’s more than that, Salesforce is particularly excellent in growing minority groups. Salesforce inherently believes ‘that business is a platform for change’ and this is very well articulated in everything the organisation does, and I am not just saying that. The values of Salesforce are Trust, Customer Success, Innovation, Equality and Sustainability.
We have the 1:1:1 pledge where 1% of its equity, 1% of people’s time and 1% of product revenue are used to contribute to the greater good. I am expected to participate in 7 days of community service each year – now is that not incredible!
Ursula’s Career Lessons
Everybody’s the same at the end of the day, irrespective of your level. We are humans – plodding through our days, sometimes uncertain and fearful, sometimes excited and sometimes determined to take on the world. We’re all on our separate life journeys, the only thing that differentiates each and every one of us is experience.
Confidence is a powerful measure on which to work. Make sure you have something to be confident about. Confidence materialises due to hard work & effort and being in the trenches – learning the hard way.
Lifelong learning helps one to continue to learn, relearn, unlearn and keep learning. Things change so quickly in this day and age that it is impossible to keep abreast with things if one does not stay relevant. Learning and the new world of work have a symbiotic relationship and the one can not be spoken about without the other.
A seat at Ursula’s table: 3 inspiring women she would dine with
Eleanor Roosevelt, I think was a formidable role model and example for us women. I live by her quote “no-one has the right to make you feel inferior without your permission”.
J.K. Rowling from a mother on benefits to a multi-millionaire author. I would love to know what kept her believing and so determined to chase her passion and dreams. Imagine if each and every one of us lived our dreams with the same zest, passion and determination as J.K. Rowling. The world would have been a different place, that’s for sure.
Graca Machel is one of the only women in the world to have been married to two country presidents. That in itself tells us what an extraordinary lady she is. I would love to hear her stories about Nelson Mandela and how she contributed to this great man’s legacy whilst he was alive. What are the life lessons she takes from that relationship and how could the rest of the world gain by this knowledge?
Success is being instrumental in shaping the lives of South African people. Giving our people the tools and ability to become functionally employable and relevant in this digital age. Nothing would give me more pleasure than to know we have created 100’s of thousands of new jobs on the continent. Just imagine!” ~ Ursula Fear