By: Sarah Deutsch Thornton

Within MIL’s Salesforce practice, we refer to our team as “Ohana”— a term adopted from Hawaiian culture by Salesforce’s founders that means “family.” More specifically, it emphasizes that families are bound together, place value in one another, and cooperate. We’ve incorporated this belief into each and every workday.

To be part of our Ohana is to be part of something special. It extends not just to our team members, but also to our clients, partners, and communities. Actually, living our Ohana values doesn’t come easy – it’s far simpler to read and quiz our way to Ohana competency using Trailhead, Salesforce’s online learning platform, than it is to live it. Nevertheless, Ohana is at the heart of what we do.

Ohana means being leaders in equality, compassion, hard work, support, continuing education, and giving time and expertise generously. We joke and laugh like any family (the sheer volume of dad-jokes!) as well as hold each other accountable when things get rough. You can be wrong and still have people supporting you, assisting you, and on your side. We are people doing what we love with engaging colleagues and challenges a plenty. Life happens. Bureaucracy happens. And through it all, our Ohana is there.

Being a federal government contractor is much different than being a Salesforce consultant. Aspects of our relationships, communication, and role hierarchy are different than in non-profit organizations or the private sector. There are, of course, situations that impede or infringe upon our values like any Salesforce consultant would face, however, in our role, it just means we handle these tricky, all too public situations with integrity, empathy, and the support of our greater Ohana.

For those outside the public sector, there is a cloud of uncertainty or an air of assuming how government work runs. I’m here to tell you, there’s no greater magic than the accomplishments we help facilitate on a daily basis. There are, however, longstanding traditions and protocols that everyone is aware of, be they written or just understood. There are histories between departments and teams that, as consultants, we walk into, need to respect, and still get things done. This can be very challenging. Through all this though, we must remember our identity. Our Ohana.

Ohana incorporates our coworkers and bosses, our clients and theirs, our greater Salesforce Trailblazer and Developer Communities, and everyone we work with. The “Us vs. Them” mentality cannot apply. So as consultants in an environment that thrives on certain traditions, we need to be empowered to enact our own traditions, and fold our clients into our Ohana.

  • It means being an active bystander regardless of role, employer, or any other qualifier.
  • It means amplifying the voices that get overshadowed due to bias.
  • It means pitching in when you’re asked and asking if you can help when you see a need.
  • It means being accountable to yourself, your team, your company, and your client.
  • It means caring, truly and deeply.
  • It means being a full member of your team.

In our Salesforce practice, we work to live up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves. It is not only the responsibility of those around us to exemplify the hard work that makes a difference in everything we do, but ours to inspire them. The trust we place in each other to deliver quality products, applications, and services is well deserved and hard earned. We do this day in and day out, for all our clients, at both on-site and off-site facilities, and with each other in our respective corners.

It is a journey, to be sure, but one we are honored to be on together. #OhanaStrong.

Sarah Deutsch Thornton, Certified Scrum Master, is a dedicated Salesforce product and community evangelist with a passion for engagement across all roles in the Salesforce ecosystem. She has earned six Salesforce certifications and is an advocate for continuing education, certification, best practice adoption, local and virtual User Group involvement, and consistently providing positive encouragement.