The Making of Dreamforce
I had the pleasure of chatting with both Marissa Kraines and Catherine Simmons about a month ago, and by chatting, I mean talking in a real, live telephone conversation and with both of them at the same time! I was curious what it really took to make Dreamforce the awesome event that it is, and they were more than willing to share with me.
Let’s start with a brief introduction of the two “special guests” on this post:
She started working for salesforce.com in 2008 in the London office, moved to San Francisco and the Dreamforce team in 2010. This year will be her seventh Dreamforce, and her fifth as part of the team putting the event together. Catherine is the Senior Director of Strategic Events, is focused on Dreamforce all the time, and along with a huge team, responsible for the execution and strategy for the event.
Marissa has been with salesforce.com just a little over a year, and she is the Senior Manager of Social and Content Marketing. Prior to joining salesforce.com she was an MBA student at the University of Texas (Austin) and had an internship in product marketing with the Service Cloud.
We all know Dreamforce is a massive event, taking up a lot of resources in San Francisco. I was curious to know when planning starts for each year and what all is involved in the process. Catherine and Marissa both indicated that planning for Dreamforce is an ongoing process that overlaps year after year. There’s not really a “start” date for any given year’s event. I asked the obvious question: Are there plans to move the event from San Francisco? The good news is that salesforce.com is very committed to San Francisco, and I’m told that Moscone is booked for the event all the way out to beyond 2020!
With Catherine being 100% Dreamforce, 100% of the time, I wondered how many other people are responsible for the event. Catherine’s response to that really didn’t surprise me. She said, “Dreamforce touches everyone at salesforce.com, and it’s non-negotiable.” Those people whose job it is to produce the event – marketing, operations, etc. numbers around 20 with another 20 or so full-time contract employees, and infrastructure people including people from the George P. Johnson agency takes the total into the hundreds. “And by the way, the George P. Johnson agency is also a salesforce.com customer”, says Simmons.
So my next logical question was how many people actually “work” the event, from registration and check-in, to helping people find their way, to those people on the street corners waving the clipboards that read “Dreamforce Questions?” Catherine tells me that those people are all subcontracted out by George P. Johnson and number in the hundreds.
I was curious how Keynote Speakers and musical guests are decided upon. Those decisions are made based on who will be inspiring to the audience and who can tell a great, relevant story. Of course, sometimes it also depends on who can be available at the right time. Elizabeth Pinkham, Senior Vice President for Strategic Events, and Lynn Vojvodich, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, and their teams are ultimately drive those decisions.
My final question to Marissa and Catherine: Are there any “unsung heroes” who should be acknowledged for their contributions and efforts towards the making of Dreamforce? Once again, the answer I received did not surprise me one bit. “The entire team deserves the credit! We are like a family, to drink wine with at the end of the day, to give high fives to, etc., and that extends to the George P. Johnson agency too.”
So…there you have it. That’s how Dreamforce is made.
I still think it’s a lot of Hollywood magic, combined with smoke and mirrors!