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  • Writer's pictureCharly Prinsloo

The day I took the CTA Review Board

And so the day finally arrived... it was time to face the judges (and the music) for the Certified Technical Architect Review Board exam. The goal? To obtain the Certified Technical Architect credential.

There are a lot of blogs about this exam - people's experiences, what to do, what not to do, what to study, etc. (these are the ones I read again and again and again)

so I don't want to be boring and replicate, but I do want to share with you my experience in hope that some of it will be helpful to others on this journey.

The night before the exam my throat started to hurt a lot, and I got hot and cold shivers and I felt like a train hit me head-first... I knew I was about to get really sick. The timing was absolutely horrible. I took two of whatever I could find in the bottom of my backpack (I suspect they were Advil) and I went to bed early.

On the day of the exam I made sure I got up early. In fact I didn't get much sleep and was wide awake from about 4am. My exam was scheduled for 7:30am which I was grateful for at the time, otherwise it would have been a very very long day for me. I made sure I had a good and healthy breakfast, and remembered to hydrate!

The few hours I had before the exam were amazing. I was texting back and forth with Gemma, my sweet study buddy, and she made sure I was calm and focused.

The support I received throughout this process from salesforce was incredible. At every step both Debra and her team made sure I had all the info I needed on logistics and I even got text messages of support from Debra herself! They are an amazing team and really went above and beyond to make sure I have everything I need to be successful.

The exam was exactly as I expected - two hours of solving the scenario, a break, the presentation, another break and then the Q&A portion.

The scenario was tough. There were everything from millions of community users to external websites and off-platform reporting and large data volumes to CTI and Omni-channel. It was a true test to see if you REALLY know salesforce well enough.

The presentation portion wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I always imagined a kind of auditorium/theatre style room with darkness where an audience would be and judges behind a "X-factor" kind of judges-bench... with bright lights and me trying to peer into the darkness of the auditorium... Not at all! It was a normal training room with the judges sitting right in front of me - not 3 monsters but very nice human beings who actually smiled at me and shook my hand and made sure I was ok throughout. Super embarrassing moment: I nearly fainted while discussing one of my artifacts - at that stage I am sure I had a fever and everything kind of went black for a second. The judges were so sweet and one was trying to stop the clock and the others were all worried about me. That little bit of kindness meant so much!

The breaks in between the sessions felt like it took FOREVER. I wanted to get back in the room and get it over with.

The Q&A portion went by extremely fast. There were so many things I still wanted to explain and talk about. The judges really did not try and "trip me up" - they worked together to ask me the questions where they felt I needed to go deeper. I think the Q&A part is my favorite part of the whole test! I loved explaining my thoughts and decisions and in true Charly-style would have been happy to discuss options for hours!

The outcome? I didn't pass the exam. I got my results a few days ago, and I've spent yesterday working through the really comprehensive feedback I received. The majority of my feedback was on time-management, there were a lot of areas I didn't cover sufficiently because I didn't have enough time. I also got some really positive feedback on my artifacts, integrations, systems landscape and other pieces.

I'm ok with not passing. I really wasn't on top form that day - my mind was slow and full of flu. I muddled up my data model and got tripped up on a few processes. It reinforced the integrity of this exam and that it is really just the best of the best who gets this credential.

Whats next? My second (and hopefully last) attempt of course! Stay tuned over the next few weeks, as I am going to deep dive into the areas such as time management, refining my requirement-analysis skills and fine tuning my overall approach. And of course I will share it all with you here and on the Ladies Be architect website!

I want to thank the incredible outpour of support I got from all over the world. It is really amazing to see how many people were rooting for me. If I don't achieve anything else throughout this process, at least I have seen the true power of the global salesforce #ohana.

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