Programming Pioneer: Sanjay Gidwani (CDM ’03)

Photo credit: Tom Vangel

Photo credit: Tom Vangel

“I am the epitome of the ‘Oregon Trail’ Generation,” says Sanjay Gidwani (CDM ’03), senior director at Salesforce.com. He’s proudly referencing a descriptor for a subset of people who were born at the tail end of the ’70s and into the early ’80s. They came of age as technology was taking hold in everyday life. Personal computers were just beginning to gain popularity, and educational computer games like “Oregon Trail” were becoming classroom staples. For many, Gidwani included, the game itself serves as a major milestone, marking the beginning of a lifelong fascination with technology that translated into a successful career.

“When I was in eighth grade, we interacted with NASA astronauts online,” he says. “We were among the first to use computers to learn. It happened at the right time to spark my interest in technology.”

After spending several years in the technology industry honing his programming skills, Gidwani accepted a position with Model Metrics, a cloud solutions company that eventually moved him to San Francisco. Three years later, Model Metrics was acquired by Salesforce, a company that focuses on cloud computing and customer relationship management solutions.

“Salesforce is an incredibly innovative company,” Gidwani says. “When they acquired Model Metrics, I thought to myself, ‘We’re obviously doing something right.’”

Gidwani and his wife, Karla, moved back to Chicago in 2012. He now oversees Salesforce’s Platform Success Practice within professional services. Gidwani’s team is responsible for consulting engagements that ensure Salesforce customers experience maximum value from the platform. Gidwani often travels to help customers implement Salesforce-based applications. He’s been to Argentina, Colombia and London, where he worked with Burberry and met former CEO Angela Ahrendts.

“I think in life the most important thing is to trust yourself,” Gidwani says. “DePaul gave me a great foundation, and I felt confident taking the risks needed to be truly innovative from the start. I feel super fortunate to be where I am.”

“It’s important to me that people understand that DePaul, and college in general, is foundational for success. It can be directly or indirectly related, but it’s important.”

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