Ask a CSM: Q&A With Kristine Olson, Digital Guardian

Ask a CSM: Q&A With Kristine Olson, Digital Guardian

July 21, 2016
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In this edition of our Ask a CSM series, we're chatting with Kristine Olson, Director of Global Training at Digital Guardian.


What was your background prior to becoming a trainer? What attracted you to customer training?

I sit on the vocational fence between Information Security and Technical Training. For the past 24 years I have balanced my knowledge and skills between those two vocations. The world of Information Security is in constant flux with emerging technologies and new threats from would-be hackers to well-funded nation states. This is a thrilling world to be a part of.  

However, I gravitated toward training because, well, I love interacting with and enabling the next generation of security analysts, penetration testers and incident responders. I would rather spend a week with them discussing methodology and “cool tools” than pouring through logs and re-creating timelines. A lot of these folks are self-taught and learning a more formal approach with the right tools makes them more efficient and effective in their jobs. I am proud of my contribution and more so, I am proud of them.

What's the most rewarding part of your job? 

My greatest reward is when a student can solve a real-world problem using the knowledge they obtained in our training. That is an instant return on their investment, and also validates our curriculum.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

Schedules!  Nobody doubts the value or even necessity of technical training; however, when it comes down to scheduling the time to devote to learning something new? Suddenly there are loads of other priorities. It is especially difficult for our partners, who work for very large security consulting firms, to step away from billable work to sit in a classroom for 5 days. This is why online training is so important to me. Students are no longer tethered to our schedule or location. They can control when they take the training and can learn at their own pace.

Which team (outside of your own) do you work with most closely, and why?

I am in constant contact with our Project Managers, ensuring our customers receive the training they need at the point in their deployment when it is most beneficial. Timing is everything.  

When I'm developing new curriculum, I work closely with folks in the field, (pre-sales, professional services, customer support, etc.) who are solving customer problems. I use these real-world use cases in training as practical labs. This is how I ensure I am teaching skills that will bring value back to other customers. Students are turned off by training scenarios that seem contrived, so I like to keep it as real as possible. 

What advice would you give someone who is just starting his/her career in customer training?

Never forget the principles of adult learning. Training is not about how great you are or how hard you work. It's about each individual who takes your training, because that training holds the key to their job success. Respect that and you will always make the right decisions.

In our Ask a CSM series, we're talking with some of the industry's leading Customer Success, Education and Training professionals about the ins and outs of their day-to-day. Stay tuned for new Q&As each month!

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