5 February 2020 - In Memory of Laura Walker
I first met Laura in November 2012 where we worked together at a Salesforce consultancy, she a Consultant and me a Project Manager. We had both discovered Salesforce as Accidental Admins at previous end user roles and chosen to move into consultancy to develop our skills. I soon ended up on the same project as her, working on a Financial Services client and over the course of the project this colleague became my friend.
We both eventually moved on into other roles, consultancy, end user and contracting. Laura worked again with me for a short contracting stint in the back end of 2016.Laura was your classic Awesome Admin. She wore many hats to help an implementation across the line but her most favoured hat was that of a Business Analyst, and she was good at it too. Her feet were firmly planted in both camps. She spoke ‘business’ while translating their needs into technical requirements, having good knowledge of the Salesforce platform (including multiple certifications and reaching quadruple Ranger rank in Trailhead). Laura’s favourite cloud was Service, always trying to improve the user experience for call centre staff by adding an improved interface and automation.
Laura had found her calling but did not stop there. She was an active member of the Salesforce Community, being a member of the London Admins, Women in Tech and Hampshire User Group, and a loyal attendee to London's Calling Community Conference and member of the 'Legally Not' SpaForce event and speaker at Surf Force.
Laura devised an end user friendly way to to understand how to configure a Salesforce report and took her presentation on the road and delivered it at the London Admins and Hampshire groups as well as at the 2017 London World Tour.By now Laura was a regular Salesforce contractor, and had gained valuable experience at some well known companies such as Matches Fashion, Tes Global, Selfridges, Clarion Events and Hive. She was building her career, her knowledge and her standing in the community. Nothing could stop her. But something did.In November 2018 Laura was diagnosed with Bladder Cancer and on that New Years Eve had her bladder removed in a life changing operation. Chemo treatment commenced in January 2019. Each session would nearly kill her, having to be admitted to A&E to fight off sepsis. This woman, who had been full of life was literally fading in front of me.After 5 of 6 Chemo treatments the Doctors said enough was enough, her body couldn’t take any more. Hopefully the Chemo has done its job.Laura’s body was able to recover. In September a group of us met to celebrate Laura’s birthday, a milestone I didn’t think she would reach. Laura looked so well, and was rocking a cropped hair style that really suited her. We had a good day together.
Laura shared more news; 2 shadows were found on her liver from a scan. In mid October the results were known. 2 tumours on her liver with a type of cancer that was inoperable. Laura was diagnosed as terminal.A terminal diagnosis brings out determination in people. It focuses the mind on the important things and what is possible. The bucket list.High on that list was one thing Laura desperately wanted to achieve and that was to be a speaker at Dreamforce.I am personally so grateful to Mike Gerholdt and the team at Salesforce for making this dream come true.
Within hours of Laura’s diagnosis a plan had been hatched for Laura and her husband David to attend Dreamforce for Laura to speak (and do so much more). I was proud to break the news to her the next day, both of us crying down the phone at each other; it’s a wonder any sense was made of the conversation.Dreamforce was truly an epic trip for the couple. Mike had put together an itinerary to make it truly special; a blinged up Trailblazer Hoodie, VIP passes to keynotes, including the Obama interview and Fleetwood Mac Dreamfest gig.
In return Laura was asked to attend a photo shoot, introduce Parker Harris for the Awesome Admin Keynote (while sporting a Londons Calling T-shirt), be the Admin interview for Mike’s Admin breakout session and be the star of the Awesome Admin Podcast. Laura loved every minute of the conference, a trip of a lifetime that helped to create happy memories for everyone.
On Saturday 1st February 2020 Laura sadly passed away.This cancer did not define her, but in some way it made her stronger. Since the initial diagnosis in 2018 to just days before her death she powered through. Laura always put others before her, whether it be finding the best solution for her customers and wanting to deliver her best, to giving back to the community. Laura also put her efforts into the Flight Bladder Cancer charity, to raise as much money as she could to give back for the time and care they gave to her.Of course, I have only spoken about Laura’s impact in the Salesforce world but she had many other hobbies and interests and I am sure these people she had also left behind will be feeling this Laura sized gap.Throughout her cancer she was quietly determined, deeply optimistic and always so graceful and dignified. It was so rare to see a slither of anger, to show the utter unfairness from it all or for her to say that she wasn’t ready for the inevitable. She didn’t need to, her friends and family could fill that space for her.Laura left us too soon. She was an extraordinary woman. She would always be there to offer advice or help anyone.
One of my favourite snippets from Laura is this;“Women have balls. Unlike men, they do not hide them away down their trousers but instead, proudly wear them on their chests. They are larger than men’s balls and that’s why men can’t stop looking at them.”I am proud to say Laura was my friend. She will be terribly missed but never forgotten by me or by the many people she touched and helped along the way.For London's Calling this year we will be holding a silent auction to sell off all Laura's prized Salesforce swag. For tickets to this event then please visit here.If you would like to contribute directly to Laura's Just Giving page in aid of Bladder Cancer then please do so here.