Photo of Heather Black, Supermums CIC

Heather Black

Heather Black, Founder of Supermums CIC, is based in Macclesfield. She has been nominated by Paula Gardner. Paula says “Supermums propels women into the Salesforce ecosystem. Salesforce is the world’s number 1 CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform and is growing rapidly.

A 2018 report found that they are expected to create 3.3m jobs worldwide by 2022. As it’s a cloud-based solution, many of the roles can offer elements of flexible and remote working. Due to the lack of available talent, the jobs are well rewarded. This combination makes them ideal for mums; whether they are looking to get back into work after a career break or seeking a change from a role that isn’t offering them the work/life balance they need.

Heather is an advocate for women (and mums especially) in tech. She was named one of the 100 most influential women in tech in the UK this year, and is open and passionate about balancing her career with her family.”

Who has she helped?

“Supermums offer training at many levels: administrator, marketing solutions, developer and consultant. Unlike its competitors, which often offer bootcamps or short on-location courses, Supermums’ training combines online learning and uniquely, mentorship, practical work experience and entry into a supportive community of working parents.

This means that trainees, many of whom have taken career breaks or are switching industries, have not only the skills, but the confidence and support to succeed.”

What’s worked?

“Supermums was initially a pragmatic answer to a practical problem. Heather was constantly struggling to find enough Salesforce talent for her team at her business consultancy, Economic Change. She knew that others in the industry were facing similar challenges, and that many non-profits also found funding Salesforce implementations difficult and costly. She also knew many mums were looking for well-paid work.

Thinking of her own experience – that her Salesforce skills were enabling her to keep working and grow her business, while being there for her family too – she realised that training in this area would be a win/win not only for parents looking for flexible working, and businesses looking for Salesforce talent, but also for charities.

In the last 12 months, Supermums has had  a success rate of 85% of graduates finding a job within three months of graduation. It has run 13 courses, with 145 trainees signed up to programmes. These have been supported by 91 volunteers, experts and enthusiasts in salesforce, across 14 countries.

Each participant undertakes a real life project with a charity to gain confidence and experience within the workplace. To date, 90 charities have benefited from over £350,000 of pro bono support.”

What has she learnt? Any challenges?

“The key challenge has been around the confidence of course participants. Many Supermums participants are returning to work after some time out the work place, unsure of what the future offers and perhaps retraining within tech with no previous technical background. The very practical issues of fitting training around family life magnify this, along with nervousness about investing in retraining at this time in their lives.

Supermums’ answer has been to educate mums about the opportunities through calls, webinars with mums already working in the sector and our online community. We also create a programme that not only supports participants in their learning, but also with issues around confidence and nervousness around tech.

We offer an end to end support package with training, coaching, mentoring, work experience and job placement, alongside events and a thriving community of over 700 participants who take a very active role in the Facebook group. Discussions range from technical questions to conversations around feeling like an imposter.

Collectively, our support team help cover issues that range from the pastoral to the intricately technical. All of this contributes to the participants’ belief in themselves and their future in the workplace, as well as provide excellent value for money.”

What’s next?

“In November 2019, by popular demand, the programme will be launching in the USA and there are plans to launch in Australia in 2020. In May Heather was awarded a coveted ‘Golden Hoodie’ by Salesforce UK for her trailblazing work helping other women in the industry.

Due to popular demand and support from employers such as St James’s Place Wealth Management, Deloitte, Accenture, Dyson & Validity, the next 12 months will see the launch of three new courses specialising in Platform Development, Marketing Cloud and Consulting.”

What advice, contacts or resources would help you?

“Being able to spread the word and offer advice to and boost the confidence of women thinking of retraining into tech.”

Why we’re sharing these stories

An individual or organisation from each of our five categories will be recognised at our Igniting Inspiration recognition event in November, but we want to publish all relevant stories to spread awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North!