Mary North is a Sr. Facilitator, Trainer and Instructional Designer who delivers training experiences that "stick" to global audiences. She enables newly acquired knowledge, skills and abilities to transfer from the training classroom into the work environment, thereby providing the greatest ROI for both the participant and the organization.
Before becoming a Facilitator, I was working as a technical editor for a software company. It paid well, but it did not play to my passions or personality style. I love interacting with people - a true extrovert! My editing job entailed reading technical documentation all alone in an office.
On the way to work one morning, I heard an advertisement for earning a Master's Degree in Adult Education at Western Washington University. The next morning, when I heard the radio spot for the second time, I knew I needed to pay attention! I had been a public school teacher before the editing work, and I knew I wanted to return to the classroom. I just wanted to get paid well for my work! It sounded like something I could do.
I was fortunate to take most of my classes at a satellite campus which was near my home. This was a good thing because I was also working full time with a child in high school and one in college, along with a husband and a home to care for. I was BUSY!
I did a research project with my favorite professor/mentor, and because of urging, we submitted our research to several conferences and journals. We spoke about our research internationally and eventually wrote a textbook together!
After graduating, I discovered that my company did not have internal FTE trainers because they staffed by using vendors. A friend in HR introduced me to the vendor company who held the contract. After a brief interview, I was in! That was 12 years ago, and I have never looked back.
How Am I Unique?
One thing that makes me unique is that I care so deeply. I want “the world” for each of the participants in my training sessions. It's important to me to enable their success and impact at work. The classes I facilitate help the participants up-skill in delivering and receiving feedback, having hard conversations, partnering with their managers, enabling them to be flexible leaders and managing their careers.
I love to personalize the classes to the individual. I enjoy having fun while we are learning. If you peeked into my classroom, you would see very engaged participants and probably hear laughter.
One Bad Day
Every once in a while I will have a challenging experience. One lousy day that comes to mind is when I inadvertently offended a class participant. I touched her shoulder as we were talking, and she just freaked out. Of course, I apologized and promised I would not touch her again, but it ruined her day. She never could get comfortable during the entire session.
This situation was so hard for me in that touching people when I am talking is an innocent and natural expression for me. It may be ethnic - it is undoubtedly a part of my culture - and when my gesture caused pain, I was devastated. I am so much more cognizant of this now. And it takes a lot of energy.
I was tempted to place all the blame on the person whom I offended. To learn and grow, I had to choose to accept the feedback consciously. After that, I recovered from the bad experience. Therefore, I have become more cognizant that what I say and do can negatively affect people and lead to a negative impact on their learning.
A Lesson for the Teacher
I have learned that companies hire me to be myself. No matter how much I admire someone else's teaching style, the words they say, etc., I cannot be them. I am not paid to be them. I am paid to be me and bring the best version of myself to the classroom.
I am most proud of being successful in business for the past 12 years. I am also pleased that I have had a positive impact on many lives and careers. That's not a bad day's work!
Outside of work, I love to cook! Baking is my specialty. I like to travel - especially to tropical locations where I can snorkel.
I want to keep teaching as long as I am relevant. After that, I would love to do instructional design to create impactful classes. I dream of doing missions work with under-served people to help them develop skills.