Third in our series of 30 Under Thirty interviews is Azar Taufique, Technical Trainer and Subject Matter Expert, Ericsson
Maestro: Tell me a little bit about your company and your role within it.
Azar: Ericsson is the world leader in telecommunications services and communication networks and the fifth largest software supplier in the world. In fact, more than 40% of the world’s mobile traffic passes through network equipment provided by Ericsson. In this age of digital realization, Ericsson is transforming the concept of networked society into reality.
My role in the company is to act as a subject matter expert for 4G LTE technology, deliver classes primarily at customer locations within the United States and Canada. My job provides me with an opportunity to meet with customers, perform competence gap analyses to determine their educational needs, design and develop course materials, and act as a mentor for structured knowledge transfer deliveries. The technical training that I provide is not only delivered to our clients but also to Ericsson’s engineers and technical staff, spread out across North America.
Maestro: Tell me about some of the things you are doing to stay current in the world of learning.
Azar: I stay current by reading literature on current research in the field of learning technology. I am also intrigued by recent discoveries.
When I prepare for the training sessions I lead, I maneuver creatively through the content so that I can approach the audience better and more efficiently. I find that reading customer reviews and feedback helps to understand current perspectives that help me modify my teaching style.
When it comes to technical learning, it is important for a technical trainer or an SME to be familiar and updated with current technology and software updates. Technology doubles almost every 18 months and software upgrades take place twice a year for telecommunication companies. In the technical learning domain, it is critical to be aware of available features supported by the technology and forthcoming releases/updates.
Maestro: What challenges do you see for the next generation of learning leaders - people like you?
Azar: One challenge that I think next generation will confront is the amount of information that is not properly synchronized. Learning leaders can easily become overwhelmed with the amount of information out there. It can be a reason for them to lose hope of understanding and comprehending it quickly.
Currently technology is so ubiquitous that focusing on one key element is difficult. As much as they help your multitasking, multiple screens on multiple devices can also be a source of distraction.
Picking and choosing what you want to consume is the key. Advertising makes it difficult for young leaders because, as the saying says “all that glitters seems to be gold”. People are coming up with innovative ideas; however we should not forget the basics. Learning has evolved over the centuries. The methodology to deliver learning content has changed over time but human instincts and understanding remains the same. It can be challenging for new leaders to choose the right strategy and tools among all the options available to disseminate and gather information.
Network connectivity is another challenge in the field of learning. Learning is evolving via smart technological advances. As learning is going mobile and becoming more personalized; there are still technical challenges to overcome. For example, if we think globally, technological advancement has not reached all countries except North America and developed countries to say the least. There are places even within US, where you do not receive network connectivity, Wi-Fi, etc. For such geographical distant and technologically poor areas, how a remote learner can benefit from mobile, personalized or e-learning solutions is still a question.
As an engineer by profession, focused on learning, education and mentorship, the biggest challenges I confront are innovation, technology and network availability to pursue and avail it.
Maestro: What excites you about the future of learning?
Azar: It gives me an adrenaline rush to answer such a great question! The sky is the limit. People consume what intrigues them. Years back, access to the best education was considered an opportunity for the privileged. However, personal computers and Internet access have changed the ways we think and learn. People are learning faster socially, technically and educationally. As of today, the landscape is such that one can choose to consume whatever they are most interested in. Motivation accelerates learning. It’s an awesome privilege to have. Changes are seen already in technical, social and personalized learning. One such example is MOOCs (massive open online courses). We have seen MOOCs where enrollment to a course exceeds thousands from countries across the globe.
Maestro: What advice do you have for companies struggling to keep up with the changing landscape of learning?
Azar: My advice for struggling companies is to remember the basics and try new things. It is important to listen to client feedback and change if necessary. Struggles can arise because of differences in opinions among learning leaders, changes in business strategies or changes in management. Change is uncomfortable. It is easy to remain in your comfort zone and not let go of our present practices. However, change should be taken as an opportunity to embrace success.
Interested in learning more about Azar?