by: Chris Knotts, ASPE Creative Director
Our professional training advisors here at ASPE are some of our most important and valued employees. So who are these people, exactly? Why is it that their roles are so important, and why is it worth it to our business to provide such a valuable service free of charge to any professional who needs it?
An ASPE training advisor has one simple mission: to help potential customers, past customers, and everyone else alike in determining their specific skills gaps and developing an appropriate plan of action in order to mend those gaps. It’s precisely the reason why we have a dedicated staff who does nothing but consult with you on your role and exactly how you might benefit from our training. The deeper we delve into your specific situation and circumstances, the more we can use our knowledge of the current industry landscape, trends and tools available to help you navigate skills-based solutions.
With that being said, let it be understood that we know it’s not always necessary for you to enroll in one of our training courses. In fact, when ASPE entered the training sector years ago, we decided one of the most important reasons we needed to work hard to foster an extensive network of other players in the training industry was to make sure we could offer customers a training plan even when we didn’t offer the solution ourselves. Selling an ASPE course really isn’t the very first priority of an ASPE training advisor: it’s to help find a concrete strategy to make sure that your training investment is going to result in truly applicable practical skills. Very rarely does ASPE not have a course from across our five training companies or a partner referral who can offer you the exact training you need.
Take a second and think back to your college days. Which professor was your favorite? You may remember the attitude he or she took when preparing you for the next semester. Young students often need coaching when making career decisions at such an early stage, so although the advisor was an agent of your college, the real job was to first understand your specific personal goals. From year to year, my advisor remaining as helpful as ever as she watched me grow in my learning, but more importantly, as she helped me develop the exact career strategy I needed to adopt as I completed school and entered the workforce. It was not specific courses or credits that she was really concerned with; rather, it was what I wanted to achieve.
Think of your training advisor at ASPE as having the same goal and mission as your college advisor. What matters most are the specifics of your organization and the specifics of your own needs and goals. This is the first and most fundamental conversation that a training advisor will want to have with you before discussing any type of specific training options.
Another key role is helping to distinguish between your certification needs and your simple skills gaps. Professional certification goals can often be just as complex as the overall landscape. Is an accrediting body certification appropriate? Is a university affiliated certificate better? Or, do you need a vendor specific certification on a specific technology? The answers may vary by field and by position, but one thing is clear: the correct industry certification is extremely valuable in today’s job market. We here at ASPE know it can be difficult to know whether these certifications will be worth it, which is why we’ve chosen to focus on a few key options: PMI credentials, certifications from the IIBA, executive-level business certificates, Google certification, and the software testing certification from ISTQB. Whether you need one or several of these credentials, ASPE’s advisory can and will provide helpful answers and effective solutions for you.
A question we are often asked is what’s the catch when it comes to providing this sort of service without any kind of guaranteed ROI; the simple reality is that we’ve found it to have incredible ROI. In the world of professional training, it’s amazing how often companies promote educational products as if they’re a sales-driven retail company. We feel that this isn’t the most effective approach to bringing high-level professional training to market. Instead, we have found that talking with people and treating their need for training as an educational opportunity revolving around them instead of our own product line is something people appreciate. When people appreciate you, they’re more apt to become customers. What’s more, they’re more apt to become loyal customers. That’s what we’re really interested in at ASPE. For those who ultimately don’t turn to us for training: we’re happy that our business model allows us to provide them with something of value regardless of the future relationship. At the end of the day, it’s well worth it to us and our industry to see professionals make informed decisions before deciding to engage in training – be it with us, with a partner, or with another resource altogether.
We operate in a very complex landscape. The enterprise project world functions in a way that’s heavily influenced by technology, global trends, and ever-faster absorption of new lessons and data in real time. Combined with a high level of specialization and sophistication, these are all factors that contribute to a world of training possibilities that can be very intimidating. Sometimes there are specialties within specialties, and it can be hard to feel confident about choosing just the right training. Course content can be confusingly different (or confusingly similar) from vendor to vendor and course to course. It’s easily possible to begin a training search seeking to resolve knowledge challenges, but coming away even more confused than when you started. This is a shame, and should never be the case. The good news is that having so many courses available and having every specialty covered is ultimately a great thing. It allows for the gaps in your skills to be addressed in a highly tailored, relevant way. It also means that somewhere in the world there is training available that matches to your job description with a high level of specificity. The challenge then becomes how to navigate all the options, and that’s why our training advisors make up one of the largest and most important departments in our firm.