We recently spoke with president Jennifer Didier and marketing manager Halie Stinson of Directions Training, a Gold Learning partner out of Chicago, USA. It was interesting perspective to speak with Jennifer and Halie, as their company offers IT training including delivery of Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC). Here is an excerpt of the interview:
Do you develop content for your training sessions, use Microsoft trainings, or a hybrid?
JD: All of the content that we use is Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC). Our instructors will pull in real-world situations, and our customers will bring their real world situations. It makes it a very good learning experience.
Let’s say you learn of a new Microsoft Office training, or Microsoft Azure training. What do you do next?
JD: As new technology comes in, we start the process of getting our instructors prepped on that technology. We send them to Train the Trainer sessions, where they go through all of the labs and understand the nuances. Then, we do pilot teaches, show students the technology, and work with Microsoft if there are tweaks to be made to the curriculum.
Let’s talk about your actual training deliveries. You mention you do a lot of these half-day sessions. Why is that?
JD: A half-day is a small bite within technical space – most of our training is five days in length. In the last few years we’ve seen a trend: we need our training to be time-respective and cost-effective. The small bite is the way to get their interest and have them come in – but if they’re going to go to certification or do the entire deployment for their organization, they need the in-depth, five-day training.
Do you offer online training?
JD: Yes, today 60% of our training is done virtually. People don’t want to travel to a training center anymore, they want to do it virtually. They want to be available for their company too, especially in IT where there are so many fires that have to be put out.
What about you yourselves – do you take MPN Training?
JD: We audit our training sessions as well as we go out for training, whether it be on marketing topics, running a business, on technical pieces. That’s so critical for our customers – we need to know what’s happening in the industry, what are the trends, what they should be looking at.
What are some of your favorite events/training?
JD: Worldwide Partner Conference is one of our favorites; we learn a lot both from the leadership side to the actual technical content. Also, Ignite (formerly TechEd) is another one which is really great for our technical folks. We also do a lot around learning – how people learn, what are some things that increase retention, etc.
HS: I learn a lot from monthly calls with the Microsoft Learning Experience team, and I use marketing tools like Microsoft Pinpoint and Campaign Factory. I find a lot of articles and webinars through those sites.
Let’s look ahead – what are you focusing on for the coming year?
JD: For 2015, our biggest goal and our focus area is cloud. We know that’s a very big and growing area for both Microsoft and the industry as a whole… We want to tweak our offerings, make them better, take them to next level and really focus on cloud technologies.
Anything else to add?
JD: In our business, we know that whatever people are comfortable with, that’s what they’re going to sell… it’s because they know that technology inside out.
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