Meet Your Chapter – Barry Nadler

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What organization do you work for? What do they do?

I currently work for FIS. I have been there for about six years. I have actually had three stints with this company in those three years. They are the largest provider of banking and payment technology solutions. They are a mixture of two large companies – Fidelity and Metavante (formerly Kirchman Corporation). They currently serve 14,000 institutions internationally. They are a Fortune 500, Barron’s 500, and on the S&P 500 list.

What is your role in that organization?

I am currently an Instructional Designer for the Community Banking Solutions business unit. This covers two core banking products – Bankway and HORIZON. My role is to develop eLearning courses, assist in supporting our Learning Management System (a customer-facing tool), and help our trainers develop the best training solutions they can – including virtual and traditional classroom training. One of the interesting aspects of my role is that I am what I like to call the “experimenter”.

I try to keep up with the newer technologies and try them out when possible. If I find something that seems to have a real application for our customers, I bring it to the team and try to create a beta pilot to see how it works. Right now, this seems to be new LMS technologies and Social Media.

How did you get to that role? Jobs that led to your current role?

I went to school at UCF for Communications with a focus on Radio/Television. This was when Orlando was going to be Hollywood East. Disney Studios and Universal were brand new. This caused my path to be a fairly convoluted one that spanned two careers. Out of school, I was involved in the Orlando television and convention industry. I worked at Disney, Sea World, WESH (NBC), WKMG (CBS), Marriot World AV, and worked on several lower-budget films. I got out of that industry because of the demands of the industry on my personal life. In 1995ish, after a series of temporary positions, I took a temporary position at AAA. My job was simple…answer phones. However, while I answered those phones, I taught myself PowerPoint, Excel, and Word. I tend to lean towards the creative. As such, I was able to do things others were not and they started asking me how to do stuff. I figured there had to be a way to do something with this skill. I had a friend from college in the AAA training department and he shared a little about CBT development with me. I was hooked. But, I still had to figure out how to get from Temp to Trainer. My path was through Technical Writing. Given that I was not traditionally trained as a Technical Writer, I had to learn that trade. One interesting slant I always had was that I viewed product manuals as part of the education process (because they teach someone how the software works) rather than R&D documents that document the software. This path led me through a company called Kids Unlimited, where I honed my ability to build training guides quickly that covered topics I was unfamiliar with. I think I made about 100 guides in about a year or so. This led me to learn about creating online help systems using RoboHelp. After this, I worked for Computer Associates (CA) writing training materials for enterprise database products. I was their Word and PowerPoint expert. It also introduced me to the role of an Instructional Designer, which fascinated me. I was selected to work on their first CBT products. These were basic web pages with an image on one side and text on the other. Simple as it was, I loved it! From here, had a short stint at Lexmark and UPS, continuing as a technical writer. I finally got my break at Harris Publishing. I was hired as a trainer for their web product. This opened me to live training, travelling, online help development, web servers, and full-on CBT development with Authorware. After making the decision to move on, I was hired by Metavante (later to become FIS). For them, I developed an online help system and was integral in driving their online education program. Over a period of about two years, we developed 60 pre-recorded sessions. After three years, I left for an opportunity to be an Education Manager for an online marketing company that teaches people how to operate a retail store online. This introduced me to the concepts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the real power behind this “new” thing called Social Media. During this time, I also ran an online retail store (if I am going to teach it, I should know what I am teaching…right?) After about seven months, I found my way back to Metavante and eventually they became FIS and I moved back into the role I am in now.

Have you had any leadership roles within ASTD?

The role of Director of Social Media is the first leadership role I have held with this organization.

What do you like most about your job?

There are several things actually. Mostly, I like the freedom I have to be creative, fail, and try again. I like being able to learn and test new technologies and have my opinions be trusted. I also enjoy the fact that my projects are not specifically deadline driven. If one of my projects is slated as a three-week project, and it takes four, there really isn’t a client waiting for a deliverable or a Project Manager wanting an update.

What do you like least about your job?

I find that I am sometimes a little disconnected from most of the daily operations of the training group – which also insulates me from the typical politics and such. I don’t get as much client interaction as I would like. I am essentially an eLearning factory. I make a course, deliver, and walk away to make another.

What is your average day like?

I spend a lot of time in the Analysis phase. I have a lot of experience distilling information, but no specific experience in Banking. I have certainly accumulated a decent level of knowledge by osmosis, but there is definitely something missing because I have never worked in a financial institution. I spend a good amount of time working in the software to learn what people actually do. I also spend a lot of time gathering inspiration for creative template ideas for each group of projects I work on. Every week I have at least one or two meetings with a Subject Matter Expert to get their input on what we need to develop for our customers. The development stages of my projects seem to be very short, in comparison to the other segments of my projects.

If you had hiring power, what skills would you look for in a new hire?

Two things I don’t think are important – specific software tools and industry knowledge. I think software skills are learned and in my current and past roles, I have been surrounded by experts in the industry. The tools of the trade are constantly in a state of change. Not being afraid to go out on a limb and experiment and fail is also crucial. To me, the ability to ask questions and get to the root of what is needed is a skill that is not learned. You can either do it or not. Being able to speak to different levels in an organization is important. Another important trait is the ability to tell a story and have an inherent sense of design. I like to work with people that have a slight “daredevil”-ish personality and absolutely don’t mind me being that way.

What is some of the best advice you ever received from a mentor?

I learned two things:

  1. “Objectives are not for your learners…they are for you, your managers, and your learners’ managers”. This is something I have come to fruition over and over. As a technical writer, I really did not appreciate them. But, they really help focus course content and provide a mechanism for accountability.
  2. “When teaching software, you can’t start in the upper-left corner and go to the bottom-right.” This is the equivalent of saying “Ok, here is your File menu. On it you have New. This allows you to create a new file, etc.” The correct way to do it is to identify what your learners need to DO and teach that. Always focus on actions, not features. There is always a reason why something is on the screen – teach the “why”.

What advice do you wish you had received?

When I was in college, this career path did not exist – I graduated before Windows 95 even existed (let alone the internet). I wish someone had shared this career path with me and identified that it was based on many of the same skills I had from my television days – editing, audio production, graphic design, storytelling, and even video production. It is a very media-driven career path now. Many situations of which I have been a part of more recently, it is similar to a “pirate” radio station or an independent, low-budget production studio.

What industry advancements do you see as having a large impact on how you perform your role?

I see viable tools in elements of social media and tablets/smart phones/eReaders. These mobile technologies are not completely there because of the discrepancies in iOS and Android in relation to being able to run Flash, but this is starting to smooth out. The ability to easily turn a PDF into an eBook offers a very strong solution to delivering our training guides in a mobile solution. I don’t see mobile technology as a solution for training software – maybe content based around facts and policies…but not software procedures. I think social media has a strong capability to fill in between learning activities and bring learners together in a way they are already doing. I am concerned about the viability of Facebook as a training tool. For what I do, I think there is a solid synergy between a LinkedIn group and a blog of some sort. I am excited to start seeing some of this technology showing up in the LMS industry. I think it can be very valuable there. I am not a personal proponent of social media in my own life – I have a LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter account, but I am very particular about what I am willing to post personally. But, from a business and learning standpoint, I think there is a very different application.

If you could attend one industry event this year (time and money are no issue), which do you think would be most valuable to you?

In the past, I have attended Learning Solutions, here in Orlando. Last year was very valuable and eye-opening. But, I think if time and money was not an object, I would choose Training or ASTD ICE as the preferred option due to the sheer size of these events.

What education/degree/certifications do you currently hold?

I have a BA in communications from UCF and an Instructional System Design certificate from Embry Riddle Aeronautical Worldwide.

What education/degree/certifications do you plan to go after?

I think the next certification I would like to go after is the CPLP.

For your role, what is your favorite or most used tool?

I stand by the tried and true PowerPoint, Photoshop, and Captivate. I have used Articulate and I like it. I think the audio recording in Captivate is better. I also get a lot of use out of my Print Screen button. I see a lot of promise in Articulate Storyline and hope to make that a permanent tool in my toolbox.

What, within the Education and Training industry, would you like to get more exposure?

I think I would like more exposure to managing teams of people. Most of the work I have done has been on an individual basis or a team of two that are equals on the organization chart. I have not been privileged to manage a team of developers yet.

Who was most influential in your career and why?

I have been blessed with several good managers and coworkers. I don’t know that I could identify a single one. But, at the time, my best friend was my editor at my first Technical Writing job. He taught me a lot about the English language. I had a very good manager at Harris Publishing that understood my desire to experiment and as such was willing to let me produce some cutting edge training tools for them. Lastly would be my three primary managers at FIS. Each of them took me where I was at and drove me to be better and more creative than where I was. I was given a lot of leeway to stretch the boundaries of what we had done in the past because they knew we needed to grow. As such, I was able to carve a niche for myself within the company.

Do you participate in social media? Web site, blog, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter?

I have a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account, and a Twitter account. I post on Twitter as BNadlerID. Have a LinkedIn profile, as well. As Director of Social Media for the Central Florida ASTD, I am responsible for their blog and LinkedIn group. I expect their Twitter and Facebook presence will land on me in the near future.

Is there anyone online you professionally follow and would recommend?

I follow:

I also like to read the Learning Solutions article site.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I am an avid board game fan. I like to play strategy and hobby-level games. Just ask me and I can talk your ear off on this. When I needed to build an online retail store to learn, I sold these games. I also enjoy movies. I prefer Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Comedy, and some horror. I am a big Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter fan. I am a child of the 80’s, so I am a huge fan of 80’s rock. Not a big sports fan…if you talk to me about that, my eyes might glaze over, but I am starting to take up golf and tennis.

Have you considered being a mentor or a mentee? What are you personally looking for from that experience?

I think I would like to be a mentee. I know I am skilled enough and have a lot to bring in the way of experience as a mentor. But, I still feel like I am just coming into my own as a member of this industry – even with over 10 years under my belt. I think my biggest benefit as a mentee would be to have someone to bounce ideas off of, questions dealing with political situations in the workplace, and building my personal learning network.

What local companies would you be interested in learning more about?

I am fascinated by the training division at Walt Disney World. I think the level of training needs there is amazing. I went to Embry Riddle for my certificate because I think, from a career standpoint, there is a lot of opportunity in the defense industry, as it relates to training and development. I would like to also learn about the training division of Darden Restaurants.

What global companies would you be interested in learning more about?

I am a huge McDonald’s fan, so I think at some point in my career, I could see me as part of their corporate-level training group.

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