Senior Technology Partner

Years at Duke: 18

Why is technology important at Duke in the work that we do?

Well, not just at Duke but, this is a fundamental question, and I will point out the opposite. What would we be or do without technology? How efficient would we be? How would we advance? Technology is a part of everything that we do today and without embracing it, we risk getting left behind. During my service in the USAF, our squadron motto was "Lead, Follow or Get out of the way." I am often reminded of that motto when I think about technology. The unfortunate thing is that when we don’t lead (or follow those who lead the
way in technology), we just don’t get out of the way, we often get left behind. Technology is the fundamental ingredient that shapes our work processes in our daily lives, in both professional and personal areas. The systems and software get more sophisticated each day. If we don’t embrace them, we will not be able to function efficiently. In the business or professional world, it is detrimental not to incorporate the latest and greatest.

What is the most common misconception about technology at Duke?

The most common misconception is that you must be incredibly smart to master technology. It has nothing to do with being smart and has everything to do with acceptance and exposure to it. Our parents and grandparents did not own smart phones, smart TVs or even general appliances, yet all of us operate these things with ease and efficiency. We have all accepted and adapted to the new technology. It did not require any deep intelligence, it just needed to be incorporated into our lives. There is so much instructional material at our fingertips today that there is no excuse for not learning. There are plenty of people and resources to help. Yes, everyone may have a different learning curve, but the hardest thing is just getting started. Once you start, you build momentum, and build on what you learn and know...the more you learn the faster you get.

As a technology expert how would you suggest that individuals get acclimated in new technology or stay current?

There are plenty of online resources to learn technology. As an experienced Technology Trainer, I am fully aware of many learning styles. People not only need hands-on training but also appropriate examples to learn many new features or functions. That is one of the key aspects of our L&OD technology courses; you get both. Others also learn shorter methods of performing various complex tasks. It is a combination of instructor-led classes and online learning (whether you do it on your own or through a program), that will help you to acclimate and learn technology.

Good training helps you to overcome fears and go forth to conquer the work or tasks you need to perform. Don’t give yourself a choice of whether to learn, instead accept and embrace technology and just keep learning. Keep your eyes and focus on moving forward.