Melissa Esquibel is a trainer, speaker and Editor of the new ES Tech Digest, launching in February 2021
Can we start with a little background information? Where are you from and what do you do?
I was born in Chicago, IL, US. I live with a foot in Chicago and another in Javea, Spain. I am a technology educator, speaker and very nerdy Microsoft Office geek. My favourite thing to do is untangle a nasty data problem in Excel.
What is your background?
Starting shortly after the earth cooled and the dinosaurs left (late 70s), I was asked to take on the responsibility of implementing audit software to run deposit confirmations in the audit department of a small bank on Chicago’s northside. That’s when I got the bug! My technology career progressed from banking and internal controls to data security, disaster recovery and business risk analysis. The skill set was unique in the early 80s, so it allowed me to explore positions in insurance, manufacturing, telecommunications, energy and healthcare.
How did you become a trainer?
After a career essentially being the Grim Reaper, I decided I no longer wanted to be the person no one wanted to see at their office door. At first, I tried real estate. This allowed me to get my geek on with investors who really wanted to know about the numbers. Well, as an Excel geek that allowed me to show off my nerdy razzle-dazzle. As I saw the end of the real estate boom approaching, I thought I’d better diversify. Fred Pryor Seminars was looking for Excel trainers. And, well, that was it. I loved this role so much, I’ve been doing it for over 14 years.
COVID-19 has impacted the way we undertake training. With the vaccine on the horizon, what do you envision training will look like?
I think these trying times have enabled us to learn how (and how not) to deliver training remotely. So many presenters and educators were really disappointed to find out that online training wasn’t just pointing a camera at your face, switching on the mic and trying to do what you’ve always done in front of the room. Bottom line, there is now more room for good quality online training. There is also an appetite for live training that I think will be more demanding. People want to see each other and engage personally, but they will want a high-quality experience. Much as people have said, “Why have meetings? Just send me an email?”, people will want to feel that it was worth the time, money and effort to get out of their pyjamas to attend a live event.
Congratulations on becoming the Editor of ES Tech Digest. Tell us what we can expect from this new offering.
I sincerely feel that the administrative profession deserves a seat at the technology decision-making table in their organizations. That is foremost in my mind. To get there and make the most of the opportunity, people in this role will need to feel comfortable and competent with the tech they have in front of them, as well as be able to find new tech solutions as apps, AI and machine learning evolve. I don’t expect everyone to roll around in tech like a puppy in paper (like I do), but there’s a gap to fill here between just knowing the tech you use to do your job today and being excited about the possibilities of doing it better, faster and smarter. I will be scouring the ethersphere for the best of the “now” and the coolest in future tech to bring you things that make your life easier and grow your comfort-level and competency in technology.
What inspires and motivates you?
Questions and problems! I look on social media every day for challenges people find in their jobs that technology can help meet. I have been known to spend Saturday nights diving into an Excel question someone emailed me. The payoff is two-fold: I get to help someone take their knowledge and abilities up a notch and I get to solve problems. A bonus is when I don’t know the answer or the solution… yet! Then I get to learn something new, too. I am a dedicated lifelong learner. This career is a guarantee of feeding that passion.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as an Assistant?
Ask questions and really listen to how things are done. Do that really well. And, while you’re doing that, look for ways to improve the processes you are responsible for. Innovators, critical thinkers and problem solvers are worth their weight in gold in today’s business environment. Stay flexible and stay open to learning new ways of doing things.
So, what’s next for Melissa Esquibel? Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
In five years’ time, I imagine having both feet firmly planted in Spain. I hope to still be traveling and speaking about things that light me up. I would like to struggle to remember how many books I’ve written because there were so many, and to still have enough energy to be “fun grandma” to my granddaughter, Lillian, as I share with her my love of globetrotting.
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