At Zennify, our employees don’t fit a standard mold. We don’t believe in the “perfect candidate” because everyone is more than they appear on paper. We’re interested in each other’s stories and experiences—the really good stuff about how life has brought us here to this company, this team, and this moment.
Today, we’re sharing three-time nCino Community Champion and winner of the Zennify Trusted Advisor award Nicolette Barbitta’s Zennify story, beginning with an eye-opening, career-defining moment she experienced in her 20s.
Nicolette, when did you first become interested in technology? How did you decide to embark on this path?
My interest in technology stemmed from being exposed to it through my dad. For as long as I can remember, he was always exploring new technology. He would show me what he was working on and had the latest issues of PC World and Computer World magazines. Like many kids of the late 80s and early 90s, I remember dial-up internet and games on floppy disks. I had my first computer in my early 20s. It caught a virus, and as a young single mom, I couldn’t afford to get it fixed, so I learned to fix it myself.
In the process, I found that I really loved working on computers, and fixing my own stuff turned into fixing things for my friends and family. I never thought about it as an actual job until a family member said, “Hey, you’re really good at this. Have you ever thought about making this a career?”
And that was the lightning moment that shifted my thinking and helped me realize there were real jobs and real opportunities for me to work with computers and technology.
It’s been a winding road from that “aha” moment to where you are now as a functional nCino consultant at Zennify. Take us through a bit of that journey.
Once I realized I could make a career out of my love of tech, I decided to go back to school. I found a mom-and-pop computer repair shop through my college’s job board. I was responsible for resolving software and hardware issues and training customers on how to use their personal computers. When the owner was ready to retire, he offered me the opportunity to buy his business and make payments over time. I jumped at the chance and bought the business. I ran it for several more years before needing more stability around pay and health benefits for my kids. I moved into a software support specialist role at a local copier company.
During that time, I collaborated with customers to install software and resolve issues. I listened to my co-workers—what they needed, how they used their programs in conjunction with the software I was responsible for, and their pain points. I was then able to implement changes based on the feedback, expand the use of the software to other departments and teach other people to do what I was doing. It was here that I was first exposed to Salesforce. Even though I wasn’t working with it, I found out about Trailhead and started learning.
A few years into working in this role, I felt ready to take the software I was supporting to the next level. So, in a performance review where I “exceeded expectations,” I asked my manager, “What’s next?”
And I’ll never forget what she said. She told me that I was being too aggressive with my desire to grow my career and that it wasn’t going to happen, so I just needed to stop and be happy with where I was at. That hurt. And it motivated me to find another job. I ended up at a local bank where I worked as the lead business analyst implementing a new consumer loan origination system.
I had an amazing manager who exposed me to other areas of the bank. She brought me into spaces I wouldn’t have otherwise found myself and encouraged me to take advantage of opportunities on other projects. My next big project was implementing a commercial loan origination system. I participated in the RFP process, and when nCino did the final presentation, I noticed right away that it was built on Salesforce, and another lightning bolt hit. I saw the value and potential of nCino immediately. I started getting back into Trailheads to refresh myself on Salesforce and became the solo nCino admin for 220 users.
This next part is where we get to Zennify. I went to my first-ever local Salesforce community tech conference in 2019 and was very interested in learning about the vendors’ different offerings and, of course, the swag. I’m pretty sure I talked to someone at every booth about what their software offered and if there were any integrations or support for nCino.
I was talking to the folks at the Capstorm table about backup, and then suddenly, this guy was standing next to me who just jumped right into a conversation, “How are you doing? Where are you here from? Oh, you work with nCino? I’m Manvir.” Our general chit-chat about nCino and what I was doing with it at the bank morphed into an invitation to join his team for dinner.
And that was how you were introduced to Zennify?
Yep! At dinner, it was my turn to ask Manvir questions, and I learned all about Zennify and how he founded the company with his partners after their work on vaccine refrigeration software in Haiti. One thing that stood out to me was that there were a lot of women at the table. I was impressed by the conversation and left the dinner hungry to learn more about Zennify.
I started following them on all of their channels—basically social media stalking them! From what I could see, their values aligned strongly with my own. After a few months, I reached out to Manvir, asked if Zennify had any openings, and joined Zennify in September 2020.
You’ve been with Zennify for a little over a year and a half. How do you feel about your work and the company now versus when you first started?
When I started, I was optimistic about the company and the opportunity but wondered, “Are they going to walk the walk in terms of values?” And thankfully, the answer has been YES. Usually, the rose-colored glasses come off six months or so in, and you start seeing cracks in the foundation. But that’s not true at Zennify. I still struggle to believe that the experience I’m having here is real, that it’s not some fantasy career. I get the best of both worlds, doing the work I love with banks and the work I love that is aligned with our shared values.
You’ve talked a bit about values at Zennify. Can you give an example?
When I had my son, I decided to use cloth diapers. As I researched them, I learned about families who were reusing disposable diapers because they couldn’t afford more. Their babies would get sick from rashes and infections, and their need moved my heart to action. I began volunteering with Butte Diaper Bank and am now on the board after helping them formalize their nonprofit status.
I learned about Zennify’s support of nonprofits through their Zenn for Good program during my social media stalking phase and so when I joined Zennify I asked if they would help—and they did. The team stood up Salesforce for the diaper bank using the Nonprofit Success Pack and decreased the time it took for our volunteers to process applications from four hours to thirty minutes. Thanks to that transformation, we’ve reallocated that time to other activities, like fundraising, to help provide diapers for more families than we ever thought possible.
The second example I want to share is my own experience working at Zennify. We can talk openly about any problem, find a solution, and move on. This is only possible through having a strong sense of psychological safety with your team. It’s not like this only on project teams but throughout the organization. That level of trust is incredibly rare. Zennify supports me in following my passion, and I am thankful to work with an organization where I feel so strongly aligned with its values.
How have your experiences affected how you like to help others?
I pay it forward. I’ve been privileged to have some incredible mentors and managers who are so generous with their time and expertise. Their care and dedication to helping me achieve my goals and be successful motivated me, especially during those times when I didn’t quite feel like I could do it.
I want others to know their voices matter, their experiences matter, and I’m rooting for them. I endeavor to help people feel seen, heard, and supported. My driving motivation is to help people recognize their strength, their power, their ability, and to build confidence that they can do anything. I bring this part of me to every interaction with teammates and customers. Their success is my success.