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Women in Industry: Sarah Franklin

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Category: impact Video duration: Women in Industry: Sarah Franklin

Since 1921, Virginia Tech has seen thousands of trailblazing women make their mark on the world, transforming industries and shattering glass ceilings. Sarah Franklin ’97 is making her mark in the technology industry where she’s serves as the president and chief marketing officer of Salesforce.

I stand here as a woman in technology. Sarah Franklin's time at Virginia Tech was transformative. Virginia Tech was just an incredible experience. I developed lifelong friends, I got an incredible education and I learned also the life experience that has prepared me for the world. She graduated with a dual degree in biochemistry and chemical engineering but decided she wanted more. I worked on radiation hardened chips and the chemical mechanical containerization area and it was very fascinating but I found myself like a little bit bored. And I remember, and I reflected on my engineering fundamentals class I took and we learned fortran. I learned some specialization, but I also learned broad skills and I got myself into technology and became a developer and then worked my way around. And I learned pretty quickly. I was like sales engineering, I was technical marketing, that there's a lot of value in knowing the business and the technology and being able to talk to people in both places. It was that innovative mindset she first learned at Virginia Tech that would be a springboard to her career. We encourage you to get out there and learn and talk and and understand and be inquisitive and, and share. And that was really the bridge for me which was like, wow, that's my superpower. It's not just that I know engineering, or not just that I know code but that I know how to speak and communicate. And that has catapulted me through my career. Sarah has spent more than a decade at SalesForce, where she's now President and Chief Marketing Officer. Forbes Magazine recently named her one of the most influential CMOs of the year. That the thing that has kept me at Salesforce is something that keeps me also very loyal to Virginia Tech, is grounded in our values. Our values are trust, customer success, innovation, and equality and we just added a fifth value of sustainability. She empowers others to pursue careers in technology and bridges skill and equality gaps to make technology accessible to everyone. I was able to, with my team, create a whole new free online learning platform called Trailhead that use gamification and a fun tone of voice and some immersive hands-on learning to help people learn our SalesForce technology, which was democratizing technology and creating pathways for people from all walks of life to learn in-demand skills that lead to great jobs. Often the only woman on a team, Sarah seeks to influence change. When I look to the boardrooms and the fancy places of executives, I didn't see myself represented there. We all have to be allies and we all have to champion equality. Motivated to make a difference, Sarah is excited about the future of technology. The things that excite me most about the future of the tech industry is the potential. The potential to really have an impact on our world. Technology is ever changing and it's ever evolving. And there is no end in sight to what we can do. We're limited only by our own imagination because we can accomplish incredible things.