Meet the Instructional Design Team

Sara LeHoullier
August 17, 2022
The 7-member instructional design team poses for a photo with Reiko Kono, their CSM
The Team at Simplicity HQ in Kirkland

We're excited to introduce the Instructional Designer Team (ID) of 6 in Cloud + AI! Senior Client Success Manager Reiko Kono hosted a lunch at Simplicity HQ and had a blast with this fun group. She took the opportunity to learn more about their current work and projects, and kicked off FY23 by showcasing the Simplicity Support Excellence Model!

As you'll read below, the ID team has a background and experience in graphic design, technical writing, and teaching. You might be thinking, what does an instructional designer do? They support all stakeholders in Cloud + AI and determine the scope of educational projects, create the layouts for instructional material, work with SMEs, write content, develop audio, visual and interactive media aids to internal employees and enable them to continue their growth trajectory through learning and development initiatives. We wanted to dig a little deeper, so we asked the team to respond to these questions:

Could you tell us a little bit about your career path – what brought you to Simplicity?

Danielle: I mostly have had full time permanent positions. I decided to move into consulting a year ago when an opportunity for a remote position with Microsoft as the client came about. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity. I was with another consulting/contract firm when my colleague was talking to me about how great Simplicity company was. I started asking questions and before you know it I jumped over to Simplicity.

Susan: I started my professional career as a graphic designer. I was an FTE for a company that was not the best fit, but we were busy and looking to add another designer. That is when I met Laurie. The company didn’t hire her, but she went to work for MacTemps (Aquent) as a creative manager. She saw my worth and asked if I would like to jump into a new opportunity. I jumped into the world for consulting with an amazing mentor. Many years later after an FTE position with Apple I started teaching at Bellevue college as a graphic design instructor. A friend asked me if I would consider working as an Instructional Designer. I said yes and he introduced me to Andrea at Microsoft when she hired me, she asked what consulting firm I liked to work with. New to the space as an ID I had no clue. She introduced me to Lisa and Carrie at Simplicity and well… the rest is history.

Leslie: I was working as a contractor at Microsoft and was given the ability to choose my own consulting firm.  I interviewed 3 different companies; Simplicity was far and above the best in pay, perks, benefits, and the high percentage of women in the organization was delightful. 

Tony: I started out in traditional academia 20+ years ago teaching at ITT Technical Institute. I then moved to industry as a Technical Trainer, before finally settling on the other side of the podium as a Technical Instructional Designer and eLearning Developer.

Joel: I was already part of this Microsoft team through a different vendor. Of course we compare notes and Simplicity was clearly offering a better deal, not just in terms of salary and benefits, but also the personal touch and the focus of the organization. (So far, you have NOT tried to sell me a Sam’s Club membership. 😊)

Rosanne: I have a long history of work experience with Microsoft—first as a technical writer and then as an instructional designer. My current co-workers shared with me their great experiences with Simplicity, which motivated me to join your company. 😊

What do you like about consulting – in general and with Simplicity specifically?

Danielle: I like being able to work remotely. Consulting does offer more freedom than a permanent role. You are not tied to a role that may not be a good fit and can change or leave that position, once the contract is done. I love Simplicity’s unlimited vacation plan and that you do not have to spend months accruing vacation time! I also like how professional everyone was and the communication is top notch. When you reach out to someone via email, you can be assured they will get back to you.

Susan: Consulting is a great way to learn about a company. To see if you are a good fit for the work and the culture. You get to live with them awhile and then decide if you want to get married. This is a very good thing. I wanted to work for a specific company forever – they were the premier design company in the PNW. I went to work with them as a consultant and the first three weeks into a six-month contract I knew this was not the company for me. I lasted the whole six months but I was so happy to leave. Why Simplicity? Like my first experience it felt like home. The opportunity for mentorship and growth with people who really want to see you succeed is bar none.

Leslie: I enjoy working on dedicated projects, rather than being pulled in all directions.  At Simplicity I feel they understand what I want in a career and help me achieve it.

Tony: All of my job offers have been for consulting jobs 😊 I really enjoy Simplicity so far (3 mos.) because of the higher pay, better benefits, vacation days and my CSM, Reiko.

Joel: For years I avoided the consultant path and always sought FTE positions. Then I was offered a contract at LinkedIn and found I liked it. It really depends on the organization and the specific projects, but the variety and flexibility of contract work is great for professional development, both in terms of technical skills and intangibles like relationship building. I also like the fact that there is less “overhead,” meaning time spent in meetings that come from being part of an organization – strategic planning, reorg discussions, etc. Consulting enables me to focus more on discrete tasks and project work.  

Roseanne: I like the flexibility and opportunities to learn new things. I just joined Simplicity last month and all of the people at the company seem very supportive.

What are the challenges/pain points your client is experiencing that you'll address in your role?

Danielle: They would like to enhance their training material to make it even better than it already is. They have a lot of needs creating online learning courses, which I am well versed in.

Susan: I hope I am contributing to making training more useful and dynamic for our stakeholders and our team. The spirit of mentorship in which I have had the privilege to experience, I want to pass on to other members of my team so we can all rise together to be the best we can be for our company and ourselves. We have experienced a lot of company growth in our area of work which keeps us challenged and engaged to keep pushing the boundaries of what a learning experience can be.

Leslie: My client is experiencing a shortage of Instructional Designers; they encourage me to stretch my abilities and skills in ways I had not thought of.  Producing on-line training is always a creative endeavor; trying to make sure the content sticks, and that the learner is interested and engaged.

Tony: Rapid course development using industry tools to produce interactive training that utilizes digital imaging, audio, and video. There is a lot of time/pain around accessibility right now and everything has to be closed captioned. Nonetheless, our development cycles and courses are much shorter than industry standard. Speed is probably the greatest pain point from a service perspective.

Joel:  From looking at some of the existing online training at Microsoft, much of it is so-called “page-turners” that push information at learners without a lot of interaction or attention to the affective learning experience. I think this group at MS is very concerned with making their training more engaging and sticky for the learner. I can help.

Roseanne: Ensuring that all employees of Microsoft’s Datacenters have the information and training they need to do their jobs effectively.

What advice do you have for someone considering consulting as a career path?

Danielle: My advice would be to ask as many questions as you can, to the prospective client and consulting firm. Also ask about benefits that are included or not included.  

Susan: The best piece of advice I got starting out was to learn new things with every assignment. Take what you have learned and apply it to your next assignment. Be open to a growth mindset. Listen. Be proactive. When you do these things throughout your consulting career or any career you get a reputation that you are proud of. You become that go to person. You become an asset to any company that you have the honor to work for and with.

Leslie: I think it depends where you are in your career, and what you want to do; consulting has worked well for me.  I’m at the point in my career where advancing in the corporate structure holds no interest, but being part of a team and staying current is very rewarding.

Tony: You must:

  • Have confidence in yourself
  • Look out for yourself
  • Find a solid consulting firm or entity to represent you, that cares about their consultants (at least as much as their clients)
  • Always complete contracts (I was told, “you will always get work if you complete contracts,” when I first started 20+ years ago)

Joel: Go for it!

Roseanne: If you’re self-motivated, like variety and enjoy learning new things, I encourage you to consider consulting!