I grew up in Surrey, England and moved to the East Coast of America for 14 years. Whilst in America, I completed a BA and a MA degree and soon after began my career as a corporate computer trainer. Those days as a trainer were spent teaching Microsoft Office-related computer courses, introductory to advanced. I returned to England in 2000.

If you asked me what my day is like, now that I focus almost entirely on home computer and digital tech training, I would say my day is more varied and that I get to know those I help even more. Computers, tablets and smartphones can be customized in endless different ways. I try to maximise what the computer can do for people and tailor the computer and lessons towards their interests and needs. And as my clients in their 90s remind me, it's never too late to learn.     

Since focusing on home computer training, I've noticed that there are plenty of people getting into difficulties with their computer and digital devices. I have heard people say "I don't like my computer" or "I want to throw my laptop out the window." I interpret this as "I don't understand my computer." I have been known to say to clients, "A computer is not like a microwave." With a microwave we press a few buttons, maybe venturing to do "defrost" occasionally. Computers, alas, are not so simple. 

There is also one huge difference between using a computer in the office versus using one at home. At home we have no IT (Information Technology) support personnel on site. It is essential, therefore, to learn to love your computer.  


Looking back Stateside 

Corporate computer training was where I learned how to be a trainer. In 1996 I began teaching the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and Access) and the operating system of the day which was Windows 95. It was a fantastic opportunity as I worked as a freelance trainer simultaneously representing three top-notch training companies in the Washington, D.C. area. 

I noticed that computers "misbehaved" and screens "went funny" and toolbars had a habit of disappearing. My students got into all these difficulties and I had to get them out whilst keeping the flow of the classes going. My troubleshooting skills developed fast from this experience.

At a prominent law firm (with about 400 employees) I was brought in as an "efficiency expert" trainer. The company decided to switch from (the more popular at the time) Word Perfect word processor to Microsoft Word. There were lots of grumbles about this. I walked the floors of the office looking for ways to help staff do their computer work faster, using tools they did not know existed and helped them like their new word processor. I came up with ten reasons why Word was better than their old word processor and then went out and tried to convert staff one at a time.

At the same law firm, I enjoyed the challenge of the seasoned legal secretaries (who wanted to know all the advanced features in word processing) but also enjoyed helping other employees gain confidence and basic computing skills. My one-to-one time with executives eager to achieve email fluency was equally rewarding. In fact, it was the individual lessons at this stage in my career that broadened my knowledge of training quite considerably. I saw up close the anxieties people had with computing.

From 1996 to 2000, I worked in and around Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, working as a freelance computer trainer at the Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Social Security Administration, and an assortment of other federal government agencies, numerous law firms, National Geographic and lots of smaller companies.