Our Favorite Trailblazers: Joanna Iturbe


Identifying as a classic “accidental admin”, Salesforce MVP and Denver Community Group Leader Joanna Iturbe first touched Salesforce in 2006 during a small implementation at Baylor University. Fast forward almost 14 years, Joanna continues to combine Salesforce innovation with higher education, leading a team as the Director of CRM Strategic Initiatives at University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business. Learn more about this Trailblazer in this interview.

How did you get involved with Salesforce?

Joanna Iturbe: I’m a classic “accidental admin” case. The year was 2006. My educational background is in public relations, and I was working in recruitment and admissions at Baylor University, my alma mater. We did a very small implementation of Salesforce, and I gladly took on administration tasks — and quickly figured out I liked it, and I was pretty good at it (if I must say so myself). Fast forward a few years, now I’ve been at the University of Colorado Boulder, Leeds School of Business for eight years. I lead the technology team that owns our Salesforce implementation. We like to do fun, innovative things with Salesforce and higher ed!

When did you first use AppExchange? Do you remember the first app you downloaded?

JI: I first used the AppExchange in 2007 when we did a small implementation of Conga for mail merge. We still use Conga now in our Salesforce implementation, and what’s fun is Conga is based down the road from Boulder so I drive by their headquarters daily. I don’t staff any developers, so my Salesforce implementation needs to be low code/no code, which means we love AppExchange.

I recently coined an acronym for all the things we consider before we implement a new product or bit of functionality in Salesforce: FUSE — is it FLEXIBLE, USABLE, SCALABLE, and EXTENDABLE? We rely on AppExchange to make our implementation extendable.

What app do you find yourself using time and time again?

JI: This is hard to answer because I feel like I’m always discovering new apps to try, but I also have my tried-and-true apps. Since I’m on the tech/implementation side of things, I love the tools that help my team be more efficient. Currently, those include TaskRay, Elements.Cloud, and Rollup Helper.

Joanna showing her Team Appy pride as a Street Team member at Dreamforce 2019.

What is your favorite memory from Dreamforce 2019?

JI: Just one? I’m going to cheat and give my favorite Dreamforce memory ever and my favorite Dreamforce memory from 2019.

My favorite memory ever was when I first presented at Dreamforce 2015. Salesforce reached out to me to present because we had been using Process Builder in Beta. I wasn’t an MVP yet, I had just joined the Salesforce Higher Education Advisory Council, and I wasn’t leading the Salesforce Denver Community Group yet, so I wasn’t a veteran public speaker. I ended up presenting with the famous Brian Kwong (Salesforce Wizard) and Mark Ross (Salesforce Yoda). There was a huge line of people to get into the session — it was packed. I was terrified, but it was awesome! It’s fun to think about how far Process Builder and my public speaking confidence have come.

My favorite memory from this last Dreamforce was randomly meeting Salesforce’s Chief Philanthropy Officer, Ebony Beckwith, while in line for a photo op. She was so nice and down-to-earth. I gave her a pinwheel button and talked about Amplify. She told me she was reading Salesforce Ben’s article about MVPs, and that she’d been on Trailhead recently. So refreshing to hear about how she was leveraging the resources from within Salesforce and the larger community.

Where’s your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?

JI: Another toughie! I’m going to cheat again.

My favorite place I’ve ever traveled was to Greece with my parents and Aunt while I was in college. My paternal grandfather was from Greece, so it was great getting to experience the culture, food, beautiful language, kind people, and gorgeous views.

I have two trailblazing daughters who are ages 9 and 5. We travel to Mexico often. My husband is from there, and the girls are being raised bilingually and bi-culturally. My favorite trip we’ve ever taken them on was last winter to Chiapas, Mexico, with my husband’s family. We visited the famous Mayan ruins, Palenque, as well as walked across the border to Guatemala, swam in the beautiful waters of the Agua Azul Waterfalls, rode on a boat through the Grand Canyon of Mexico, Parque Nacional Canon del Sumidero, and explored the natural preserves and underground caves, Grutas of Rancho Nuevo.

What is the last book you read?

JI: The most recent book I read for professional development was Radical Candor, and the book I reference most often in presentations is Switch: How to Change When Change Is Hard.

Joanna speaking at the inaugural Leedsforce event.

Favorite Netflix (or other) streaming series?

JI: My husband and I both really like Vikings and The Expanse, and I think American Housewife is hilarious!

Who do you consider to be your mentor or idol?

JI: Within the Salesforce ecosystem, I look up to my fellow Salesforce MVPs a lot, and more specifically, my fellow Salesforce.org Higher Education Advisory Council members. There’s a lot of knowledge to be absorbed from these two groups of people who are not only experts in their areas but just really genuine, good people.

I’ve read before that you need five types of mentors in your life: the master of craft, the champion of your cause, the copilot, the anchor and the reverse mentor. My Associate Dean of Administration is my champion, and my boss for the past eight years is my copilot. My husband and my mom tag-team as my anchors. I couldn’t have done half of what I’ve done with Salesforce at my work, within the Salesforce community, or developing myself personally and professionally without these four people.

Joanna showing off her sneaker style at Dreamforce 2019.

What does being a Trailblazer mean to you?

JI: To me, being a Trailblazer means you’re always looking to learn from others, and you’re always willing to share what you’ve learned.

What advice do you have for other Trailblazers?

JI: Get involved in the Salesforce community. Ask questions, answer questions, join community groups, attend events, submit proposals. Not only will you become more knowledgeable, which benefits your career, you’ll also build a network that can end up being more valuable than your resume.

See Joanna in the newest issue of The Exchange, AppExchange’s digital magazine.



Holly Rushton
AppExchange and the Salesforce Ecosystem

Content Marketer at @salesforce @appexchange. Big fan of reading, Star Trek, craft beer, board games, and golf.