INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT: JANUARY 2022
INSTRUCTOR SPOTLIGHT: FEBRUARY 2022
January 2022 Instructor Excellence Award:
Jeffrey Peterson is an Applications Instructor at United Training Academy, where he is recognized for his excellence. While in college, he explored many career avenues, often introducing himself as a future culinary school student when asked the “fun fact” question. While never attending culinary school, he eventually graduated college with a degree in French and Communications. So, how did he become a top applications trainer?
Jeffrey dabbled a bit in computer science, taking a few classes, but was, self-admittedly, “by no means particularly gifted for it”. Needing a job, he started teaching application and tech classes. Although his knowledge was fairly limited when he started teaching, Jeffrey gave it a shot, found he had a passion and a knack for it, and is now one of United Training’s top instructors. While Jeffrey never expected to become an instructor, especially in technology, he realized that he had a strong interest in cybersecurity, networking technology, and applications which turned into 4.5 years of teaching, which he now believes will be a great career for him.
Although being an instructor is a challenge at times, a big part of the enjoyment of teaching for Jeffrey comes from the variety of areas in which he teaches. “I love feeling like I don’t have to go into work every day and do the same things over and over. Teaching for me is always unexpected and there is always something new to learn or improve on, and that is something I really love about this occupation.” One of his recent students had this to say about Jeffrey: “Jeff was excellent. He kept the audience engaged with genuine energy and a focus on the topics. The content was presented in a way that addresses the needs of a wide spectrum of users, allowing everybody to get something out of the training. Jeff was clear and concise, made great references, gave relatable examples, and kept it light and fun while still delivering the facts.” Jeffrey’s excitement about technology allows him to keep his classes light and fun. “I really try to match my students’ excitement, because if I’m excited about a topic, it will translate better to them and they will also show that same enthusiasm,” says Jeffrey.
Before COVID-19, Jeffrey was splitting his time between teaching virtually and in person, so he was prepared for the new shift in learning that this pandemic caused. Jeffrey refers to the saying “the grass is always greener” when comparing the two types of learning and admits there are pros and cons to each. When teaching virtually, he misses being in a room with people, but when he is traveling to teach in person, he misses being home. A big benefit of virtual training is having the ability to record classes. According to Jeffrey, this takes the pressure off since students and instructors can refer to it when needed.
Recently, United Training entered a partnership with Tableau, and Jeffrey became one of the two instructors certified in Tableau. This proved to him that he has what it takes in the training world, and now sees that the sky is the limit. In the future, Jeffrey looks forward to utilizing his French degree as an instructor, or possibly another language, to train students around the world, or working in translation in some capacity to support a technology program. Jeffrey is also currently working on his certification for Microsoft Power Platform and learning more about web development.
Although Jeffrey did not attend culinary school, he still cooks all the time, and it is now one of his hobbies when he’s not working!
January 2022 Instructor Excellence Award:
Desmond Devendran has more than 20 years of experience in cybersecurity with an emphasis on information security and consulting. In his current role as the Director of Project Consulting at Logical Operations, Desmond’s job is to enrich customers with targeted training as well as Key Skill Indicators. Desmond splits his time between being a consultant who provides a detailed level of training, from top level management to the support staff, and a master instructor, teaching all topics related to information security and compliance.
Being a part of the world of information security since 2002, in both the technical and managerial domains of information security, Desmond has worked alongside banking and military contractors on threat intelligence and incident response, where he consulted on a host of different topics including security assessments, security architecture, business and systems analysis, and software design. Since becoming an instructor, Desmond has managed training programs on short timelines all over Asia on a myriad of topics in the realm of information security including, CyberSec First Responder™, Certified IoT Practitioner, and project management. Most recently, Desmond obtained his PMI ACP certification, which he had struggled to get for the last 5 years and is now excited to put to use.
Director, Project Consulting,
According to Desmond, his intense curiosity about how things work is to thank for his interest in what he teaches. He believes that it is important to teach others what he has experienced throughout his career, as well as pass the knowledge he has gained to his students. “Aside from being a technical person, I have realized that I am also able to interact with people and bring on positive change in their careers. So, being an instructor to me is all about bringing on change and not simply a 9 to 5 classroom teaching. It is beyond the training and professional networking and mentoring that comes from being an instructor,” says Desmond.
So, what’s next for Desmond? With the evolution of technology being so unpredictable, Desmond has always been ambitious in enhancing VILT by creating a disruptive learning capability of his own that will challenge the conventional teaching method used in the current virtual classroom. “One of my ambitions is to develop an augmented reality coupled with virtual learning. Judging by the way the pandemic will be with us for the next decade, we will need to exploit newer technologies to make learning fun and interactive at the same time. I am hopeful that the next few years will allow for some breakthrough in AI and Augmented Reality for learning.”