Lars Riehn is CEO and founder of partner infoWAN Datenkommunikation GmbH based in Germany. The company, founded in 1996, offers consulting and other professional services and is 100% focused on Microsoft technologies, including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Office 365, Active Directory, Exchange, SharePoint, Lync, Skype for Business, and System Center. Lars has worked in the Microsoft messaging space for more than 20 years, including four years at Microsoft in Redmond and in Germany before founding infoWAN. He participates in various partner communities and is a huge fan of WPC. We recently spoke with Lars about his experience with MPN Training resources.
When and why do you use partner training?
LR: I mostly use it to train my team. Until about two years ago it was up to me to approve who goes to what training, conferences, those kinds of things. We now have a manager of professional services who is looking after all the training and training coordination. Quite a few training things go through my inbox. Every once in a while I still train myself using Microsoft offers. I try not to know too much about tech anymore – but it’s hard to forget things, and I am a techie at heart.
Is most of your training done in-person, or do you also train online?
LR: What really is the most beneficial to my people is a hands-on classroom format. If you go into a classroom and it’s a well-prepared lab, you’ve got servers to play with, you get other people to interact with, you can simulate a real customer environment. You can learn from it and try things that help you do a better job in real life. Other than that, if you have good skills and experience, you can close a lot of gaps by using online resources.
What is available to you locally?
LR: Germany is a rather small country, so you can get anywhere in a day with a car or within an hour with a plane. So we have almost endless choices available.
Give an example scenario of how Microsoft training or accreditation has helped your company.
LR: The Microsoft training helps us to keep people current on the latest technology. I would say 80-90% of the training we do is somehow either official MPN training, something our local subsidiary sets up, or Microsoft events. We send people to TechEd, Ignite, and WPC every year. How does it help our business? It’s hard to quantify – but basically if you don’t stay current, you become irrelevant. Keeping people trained is basically the only way to survive. You stop training your tech guys on new technology and very soon customers have no reason to call you anymore.
What is your next learning goal?
LR: For the company as a whole, it is definitely to learn about the managed services businesses. The other thing is building cloud-based applications; that is partly technical, but it’s also organizational – a business challenge. For me personally, one of the reasons I love WPC is I get a lot of my ongoing executive education from the breakout sessions at WPC: it’s got great sales, marketing, and other executive-level sessions delivered by world-class speakers.
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