What is your educational background? Why did you decide to pursue technical communication as a career?
I earned Bachelor and Master of Fine Arts degrees from the University of Michigan School of Art & Design in the 1970s. Soon afterward, however, when the “school of reality” hit home, I took a job as a documentation specialist with a computer services company. I found I was good at researching technical topics and explaining them to others. When the company’s documentation group added a training function, I jumped into that. I’ve been an instructional designer ever since — although I still consider myself a technical communicator above all. In fact, last year I earned the Certified Professional Technical Communicator (CPTC) designation from STC.
How long have you been a member of STC? In what STC positions have you served?
I’ve been a member of STC and the Southeastern Michigan chapter since 1982. Having gotten into the tech comm field more or less by accident, I had little idea of its professional development opportunities — until a co-worker told me about STC. I joined and discovered a whole new world of concepts, information, and people doing exciting thinking and work in the field. For most of the past 30 years I’ve been only a consumer of STC services. I was finally persuaded to give something back in 2012, when I agreed to be nominated as secretary of STC-SM. I’m currently serving my second term.
Where are you currently employed? What are your job activities? What do you find most interesting or satisfying about your job?
I’m employed at Innovative Learning Group in Royal Oak. ILG is a consulting firm that provides custom learning and performance improvement solutions to Fortune 1000 companies nationwide. As a lead instructional designer and performance consultant, I design and develop those solutions for a full range of delivery modes. Continually learning about new subjects and technologies keeps me excited about what I do.
What are some examples of projects you are particularly proud of?
I’ve done a lot of projects in my career, most of which I don’t remember! Here are a few examples from recent years that I’m proud of:
- Designed and wrote a scenario-driven, performance-based e-learning course on best practices for corporate internal auditors
- Designed the information architecture and user interface for a mobile reference tool on farm equipment used by field personnel of an agricultural chemicals company
- Completed a needs analysis on mobile performance support for the sales staff of a major health care corporation
- Learned MadCap FlareTM to create a performance-support tool on bankruptcy engagement procedures for a turnaround consulting firm
- Presented on mobile learning design at several local, regional, and national professional venues
How has being an STC member or volunteer helped you with your career?
Belonging to STC has kept me abreast of ideas and developments in the field, as well as given me networking opportunities. I just wish I’d read more articles in Technical Communication and gone to more STC conferences!
What advice do you have for students as they are entering the field of technical communication?
Never stop learning! Keep up on new tools and technologies. Find out what the thought leaders are saying about theory and best practices. Learn about human performance and instructional design — we’re all in the business of helping people perform better on the job. And try to get as much experience doing different types of projects as you can.
What else would you like our readers to know about you?
I’m the mother of two grown daughters: a PhD student in linguistics and a user interface designer at a leading health care software company. I learn a lot from both of them!