Through the 1980's I worked as an electrical engineer - designing new products. But I had always wanted to be a writer - even as a child. So in early 1993 I started a new career and job as a technical writer. Among my first projects were for what was then known as Xerox Engineering Systems (XES). I developed training for customers, sales reps, and analysts for wide format equipment. That continued over the next couple of years and my understanding of their products and markets became thorough and deep.
In mid-1995 they asked me to help with face-to-face training for a new product launch. The training took place at Xerox Document University in Leesburg, Virginia. I wrote the step-by-step exercise instructions and set up the training labs and equipment. During the training I assisted the learners in their hands-on exercises with the new product. I became an integral part of their training team. Each time they launched a new wide format product, I participated and I became a familiar face to the sales force.
Best of all - I learned that I loved helping people!
In 1998 one of their staff took another position at Xerox and they had an opening. Although I enjoyed my current job, I was ready and eager to "move on to bigger challenges." So I sent the XES training director an email message. I titled it "10 reasons you should hire me" — and really included 10 reasons why I would be a great full-time addition to his staff. I didn't hear anything back from him for several days and I began to worry, "Oh no, I've upset him". Not a good thing to do — annoy a valuable customer!
It turns out that during that silent interval he was checking with his other team members. He was sure he wanted to hire me, but he wanted a happy team, too. He also needed to get permission to hire from outside the company. The job had been posted internally and they had several applicants.
I was greatly relieved when he phoned me the next week and asked me to come to Leesburg to interview for the position!
As they say, "The rest is history." I started as Worldwide Manager for Sales Training Development in September 1998 and moved to Leesburg. Eventually, XES moved back into the Xerox mainstream and became Xerox Wide Format. A series of corporate changes expanded my responsibilities. I not only wrote the courses, I taught them to new-hires — both Xerox direct employees and the entire wide format dealer network. I even managed the training programs — administering enrollments, signing contracts, and so on.
I also added the Xerox Wide Format dealer network website to my list of duties. I created an entirely new website from scratch, long before we had the wonderful tools we have today to help us create web pages. I taught myself HTML and created that site "by hand” — using Notepad on a Windows laptop.It turned out to be a very popular and useful website. Soon, Xerox Wide Format started selling color inkjet printers. So I also had to gain expertise in entirely new disciplines — including color management.
What's more, in the early 2000's the Internet grew and on-line training became a big deal. Companies didn't want to take workers "out of the field" and spend money to send them to distant locations for training. They wanted courses that learners could access at their own convenience from any location. A lifelong eager learner myself, I jumped in and learned the skills to develop this kind of training. It included gaining expertise in producing audio and video elements.
I retired from Xerox Wide Format in early 2009 and started my own training and training development businesses. To this day I'm happy and eager to learn new applications and techniques.
As Mr. Bob Dylan once said, “He who isn’t busy being born is busy dying” — and I’m always open to new experiences and learning. The best part, however, is that all of this allows me to indulge in my biggest passion: helping people.