I had the opportunity to interview John Ó Ríordán, Senior Technical Trainer for AlienVault, at our Sales Kickoff. John offered unique perspectives, with his focus being Europe and his work location being Cork, Ireland. I was curious as to how Europe is different. Here are my findings, after chatting with John.
What, Cultural Differences?
In speaking with John, it is a mistake for US-based technology companies to assume that everyone is the same. Europe is different. Technical trainers in Europe are very accustomed to non-native speakers. Whereas in the US we prefer to speak rapid-fire so as to not lose the interest of participants, European trainers know to speak slower, and use simpler words, especially with online training. It should be no surprise that non-native speaking students appreciate this.
In addition, Europeans enjoy conducting business and interactions with fellow Europeans. This makes sense, but not all vendors appear to appreciate this.
It’s not exactly cultural, but Time Zones do matter! Hardly anyone wants to get up at 2 AM to start a course. With the stronger need for personal touch in online training, it’s critical to have the trainer and the students in the same (or close) time zone.
Interestingly, since many students have dedicated their week to training, they do tend to use our Labs even after the class has ended for the day.
The Fun Observations
Training given to German students – yep they will be on time, ready to go at the anointed hour. Spanish and Indian students, maybe not so much. Europeans prefer to work alone. Indians tend to prefer to work on projects in pairs or groups. John’s policy in delivery information most effectively is to not disregard but rather respect the preferences of his student audience. The learning experience is unique across cultures.
Online versus in Person
John, as a professional trainer, clearly prefers in-person events. He can see whether the students are “getting it” and pace his material much better. But, as he emphasizes, technical people have a preference for online training. They just want the information. They might be a bit introverted, and might prefer to use the chat window over speaking to ask questions.
Even the most charming trainer is at a disadvantage when conducting training online. John deals with this by providing more jokes and breaks when doing training online. He makes an effort to personalize training, since he is not face-to-face with his students.
Interestingly, the feedback collected from classes conducted online versus in-person is very close. While the trainer might prefer in-person training, it turns out that technical students may not. The measurements we take are very close in student satisfaction between online students and in-person students.
With the mix of classes that John teaches, he finds himself out of town, doing onsite training (remote from Cork) about 30% of the time.
You can learn more about AlienVault training here, if you like.
John’s worked EMC, IBM, Siemens, and VMware before joining AlienVault. He’s held positions including Software Developer, Systems Administrator, Technical Support Engineer, Staff Engineer, and Technical Trainer. In addition to Cork, he’s lived in Toronto, Canada; Stuttgart, Germany; visited Palo Alto, and USA.
His hobbies include Hurling (his favorite player was Diarmuid O'Sullivan and his favorite team is Cork, of course), Mixed Martial Arts, Rugby, Squash, Obstacle Races, Linux and playing with Raspberry Pi's. He lives in Cork with his Fiancée Lorraine and dog, a cairn terrier called Fionn.