DiscoverInside Tech Comm with Zohra Mutabanna
Inside Tech Comm with Zohra Mutabanna
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Inside Tech Comm with Zohra Mutabanna

Author: Zohra Mutabanna

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Inside Tech Comm is a show for anyone interested in learning more about technical communication. It will also be of interest to those who are new to the field or career-switchers exploring creative ways to expand their horizon. You can write to me at insidetechcomm@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.
17 Episodes
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Bringing another hiring manager perspective, Denise Kadilak says "show that you've got knowledge about the field and that you are self-motivated, and you're willing to pivot, embrace change. If you can demonstrate that in any way on your resume. That's always going to be a big win."We talk about what to do in an interview and what not to in this fun and fast-paced conversation.  Tune in if you are curious about what out-of-the-box hiring looks like. Learn more about what innovative and forward-thinking managers look for in a candidate, and how you can gain that edge as well.Guest BioDenise Kadilak is an Information Architect and Senior Manager with Blackbaud. Her interests include content and knowledge management, information technologies, and researching just about anything associated with technical communication. In addition to her full-time job with Blackbaud, Denise is a part-time college instructor, teaching technical writing, English composition, and Intro to Literature, and she is a regular presenter at international conferences.
Staying with the theme of Job Search and Career Advancement, David Owens dives deep to give us a hiring manager's perspective on what he looks for in a tech comm candidate for his team. If you think tech comm is all about writing manuals in a silo, then this interview may just open your eyes. The field is fast evolving if you have not noticed, and managers are interviewing to fill non-traditional tech comm roles. Are you game? If not, this conversation promises to give you some great tips on how you can and must pivot if you want to interview for success in a content role.Some questions we touch upon:What are you looking for on your first scan of a resume as a hiring manager?What are hiring managers expecting to see in a candidate to fill a non-traditional tech comm role?Has the interview process changed given the pandemic and remote opportunities? Guest BioDavid Owens is Director of Strategic Content Development at Blackbaud. This multidisciplinary team creates a wide variety of content to support an array of products and services. David believes in building modern skillsets that both help team members achieve their career goals and ultimately benefit Blackbaud customers.As an information developer, David has created feature and API user assistance content in numerous formats for products ranging from an enterprise fundraising CRM application to shrink-wrapped, mass-market software and commercial hardware. David has written articles on topics such as single-sourcing and how to become a “technical” technical writer and is the co-author of “Madcap Flare for Programmers” published by XML Press.
In the first episode, Jack Molisani and I talked about how to spruce up your resume. We continue our conversation to discover how to interview for success.  Landing that next gig depends as much on your attitude and experience as it does on how you present yourself at the interview.  Jack Molisani shares secrets about how to be a hit at a content interview. We ponder these questions:How do I prep for an interview?What are some creative ways in which you can steer a conversation?How do you brand and position yourself for a successful interview?If these questions intrigue you, then this conversation has more hidden nuggets that you will want to discover and apply.  Happy Job Hunting!!Guest BioJack Molisani is an STC Fellow, a member of the STC Nominating Committee, and the President of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals (both contract and perm): https://ProspringStaffing.comHe’s also the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.Jack also produces The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management, which will be virtual this year in October: https://LavaCon.org
Season 2 - Job Search and Career AdvancementAren't we always looking for those amazing tips that can improve our chances of getting our next big gig? It all starts with that critical document  - the resume. In this debut episode of Season 2, Jack Molisani shares some great insights into the dos and don'ts of things to put on your resume. Some things that we cover:What is an objective versus a summary, and when do you use one or the other?When do you use a functional versus a chronological resume?How do you get the experience and show it on your resume if you are switching careers?Listen to the episode to find a hidden gift. You don't want to miss it. Guest BioJack Molisani is an STC Fellow, a member of the STC Nominating Committee, and the President of ProSpring Technical Staffing, an employment agency specializing in content professionals (both contract and perm): https://ProspringStaffing.comHe’s also the author of Be The Captain of Your Career: A New Approach to Career Planning and Advancement, which hit #5 on Amazon’s Career and Resume Best Seller list.Jack also produces The LavaCon Conference on Content Strategy and TechComm Management, which will be virtual this year in October: https://LavaCon.org
My biggest supporter and life partner, Iqbal Mutabanna, decided to interview me for the last episode of Season 1. So here I am in a candid conversation, sharing my professional journey with you.We will pivot in Season 2 that launches in the second week of August. Stay tuned. Thank you for your support and I hope you enjoy my episode :)
Tina Davis, CSM has done a little bit of everything - from teaching dance, working as a television editor to being an entrepreneur. Like many of us, she chanced upon the field of technical writing. Tina sought out the best education opportunity to put her on a road to success - and success she did find in her second career of choice. In this episode, sheshares her journey into the world of nonprofits. If you are interested in working for a nonprofit, tune into this episode as Tina shares some great tips on how writers can find interesting gigs in this sector. Guest BioTina’s career path and interests have been long and varied, including positions as a television news producer, marketing associate, and owner of her own event organization business. She is currently a Product Specialist with the non-profit organization Both Ends Believing, and is a proud graduate of the University of North Texas (B.A. in Professional and Technical Communication and B.A. in English) and the University of Florida (B.S. in Telecommunication). She lives with her husband in Richardson, TX, and can be found working on her personal creative projects and puttering in her garden. 
Laurel Beason has covered the journey from journalism to technical writing, and everything in between.  If you are new to the field and would like to find out how you can move forward with the "think-forward" mindset, then tune in. In this episode, we chat about:The transferable skills that you can leverage to transition from journalism to technical communication.What is on-demand writing and how do you do it?How does the inverted pyramid from journalism apply to technical writing?Guest BioLaurel Beason has earned her living as a professional writer for over 30 years. She started her career as a newspaper reporter in the Pacific Northwest and transitioned into technical writing after moving to Dallas in the mid-90s. She worked at Fidelity Investments, Brinks Inc., and Cisco, creating a wide range of deliverables and supporting a wide range of products. At Cisco, she was promoted into management and was at one point leading 42 writers in seven time zones. For the past two years, she worked in academia, teaching senior-level technical communication courses. Teaching was a life goal and a rewarding experience, but Laurel "missed the real world" and has, since, returned to high tech. Laurel wants to encourage tech comm professionals to give back by teaching and will share a few tips for success.
Sree Pattabiraman's journey is one of exciting twists and turns. She graduated with a degree in commerce but found her first break in technical writing. Today, Sree is a rising leader in the field of technical communication. She is a DITA guru, a speaker at several events, and a role model to anyone who wants to make it in the field.Sree shares her amazing story that started "back home" in India and her pursuit for excellence that brought her to the land of opportunity. I am sure her story will resonate with many of you.Guest BioSree Pattabiraman is a Senior Technical Writer at Extreme Networks, Inc., where she manages software and hardware documentation in the wireless networking products domain. An alumna of the North Carolina State University, Sree has worked on global teams and is an active STC volunteer. In her free time, Sree loves to travel, explore local restaurants in and around the Carolinas, and run her micro food blog.
This space does little justice to the guest I am about to introduce. But here it is...Altaf Tyrewala is the author of the critically acclaimed books, No God in Sight and Engglishhh: Fictional Dispatches from a Hyperreal Nation. He has also edited the crime-fiction collection, Mumbai Noir. Altaf's works have been published and anthologized worldwide. In this tete-a-tete, Altaf shares his journey that merges e-learning and creative writing. He shares an interesting perspective of how the trifecta of communication, technology, and education have always been front and center of everything he's done, and how this trifecta has contributed to his awe-inspiring career. Guest BioAltaf Tyrewala is the author of three fiction books and editor of a crime fiction anthology. His works have been translated into Marathi, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, and Italian. He was awarded the DAAD Artist-in-Berlin literature grant in 2011 and served as Director of Chandigarh Literature Festival in 2013-14. He lives in Dallas and works as a Learning Manager for a multinational. Opinions expressed in this podcast are solely his own and do not express the views or opinions of his employer.
Teresa Nguyen has navigated the fields of journalism and tech comm in the not-so-distant past. She currently practices UX research. In this episode, Teresa shares some amazing insights on how she leveraged her transferable skills and the common "through-line" of human experience to weave through these intersecting fields.  Guest Biohttps://www.linkedin.com/in/technicallyt
Ron Gardner pursued a degree in agricultural journalism, but "fell" into technical writing.  Ron shares how his background in journalism, some sprinkling of "schmoozing", and bootstrapping have contributed to his long and successful career in technical communication. Ron also talks about the inverted pyramid to "trim the fat" from your writing. Now, aren't you intrigued?Guest BioRon Gardner has been a technical writer for over 20 years. He graduated from Texas A&M University in College Station with a BS in Agricultural Journalism. His first job out of college was as a QA analyst and technical writer for a small start-up, and he has been technical writing ever since. He really enjoys being a technical writer and loves learning new things and connecting with people as part of his job. He currently is the Lead Technical Writer for a healthcare software company in the Dallas area. He lives in McKinney, TX, with his wife, Shannon, and four cats.
Timothy suggests that no matter what profession you belong to, you are doing technical writing at some level. Drawing from this philosophy, he shares an interesting perspective on how his nursing students became invested in tech comm after taking an introductory tech comm course. Understanding the nuanced difference between audience and user can be the difference between good and bad communication. Listen in for a fascinating conversation from an academic and practitioner who brings a 360-degree view of the field. Guest BioDr.  Timothy Ponce holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas in Literature, as well as an MA and BA in English from Sam Houston State University. He currently serves as a Senior Lecturer of Technical Writing and Professional Design and Coordinator of Internships in the Department of English at the University of Texas Arlington. While his doctoral research focused on perceptions of heroism in sixteenth and seventeenth-century England, he has since published and presented papers focused on technical communication, writing pedagogy, literary pedagogy, and curricular accreditation. He also serves as a board member at the Society for Technical Communication Loan Star Chapter, as well as on grant review committees for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.He currently lives in Mansfield, Texas with his wife, daughter, and poodle. In his spare time, he enjoys baking, sewing, painting, quilting, hiking, and vegetable gardening.
I happened to attend a webinar of Steve Wiseman, titled "Beyond the Publication - Bringing the World of Technical Communication and Enterprise Content Strategy Together". In this webinar, Steve discusses what content strategy is, the relationship between content strategy and helping organizations scale, and how the technical communication content creation and iteration process is valuable across the organization.You will hear references to this webinar in this episode as the primary theme continues in our conversation. Steve refers to technical writers as the "beacon of content". He shares some amazing tips on how technical writers can help businesses by leveraging your existing skills and know-how. It is a matter of recognizing how your skills lend to the overall business value and going after it.Guest BioSteve Wiseman has over 25 years of experience in the documentation field having run his own writing company, and providing consultancy and writing services to both small and enterprise customers. He has also worked in implementing customer service platforms. His unique outlook covers CX, support, and where that all fits in the technical writing world. Steve can be reached at steve.wiseman@paligo.net.
Faith had long been seeking a stable opportunity that would pay the bills. But in doing so, she found a career that she loves. She discovered that this field satiates many facets of her personality - all in one job.  How many of us can say that?  Faith also shares an interesting perspective on why she thinks technical writing is the inverse of creative writing. Perhaps that sentiment resonates with you...Guest BioIn her own words.....Hi, I’m Faith Peralta!  I’m a Technical Writer at a software technology company in the health care industry.  I’ve been a tech writer for almost six years.  Thus, my journey into tech comm was roundabout.  However, once I started on this tech writing path, I felt I’d finally found my career!I graduated in 2003 with a B.A. in English from the University of North Texas and have worked in some form of health care ever since.  I’ve been an STC (Society for Technical Communication) member for two years.  Additionally, I joined my local Lone Star chapter and have met some wonderful people in the tech comm industry! In my personal life, I love to cook!  I like challenging myself to make new dishes!  I’m also a portrait photographer.  I love telling stories through art.   
Addison Kliewer grew up in a family of technical writers. However, this field was not his first choice. As luck would have it though, Addison graduated with a degree in tech comm. He put his portfolio to good use to find his first gig and he is rocking it.  If you are a student or a recent graduate trying to launch your career as a technical communicator, then this guest's journey may just be the answer to many of your questions. Tune in to this episode to hear about Addison's journey and the smart steps he took to find that foot in the door. Guest BioAddison currently works as a junior technical writer for a pest control software company. The technical communication topics that interest him the most are aviation, software, and video games. He really enjoys creating and transforming information around technical topics and making them quickly and easily accessible to their users. When he's not working, he enjoys visiting the coast, exploring local history museums, playing basketball, and spending quality time with his family.Recommended Resource: www.cofolios.comIf you have thoughts to share, please do write to me at insidetechcomm@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.
Beth Allphin was on a path to an accounting degree when tech comm appeared on her radar. While still in college, Beth got her first gig to do some editing work on the side. As they say, one thing led to another, and Beth found herself in a tech comm role.  She has had a long inning in this career as she has worn both hats - that of an individual contributor and manager. Beth shares some amazing tips on how she acquired project and management skills while on the job to further her career.Guest BioBeth has been a technical communicator for 30 years in both the healthcare and the telecommunications industries. She currently works for NETSCOUT where she develops software and hardware documentation and online help.  Beth has been married to Brian for over 25 years and they have two daughters, Olivia and Elizabeth.  Beth enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time with her family.If you have thoughts to share, please do write to me at insidetechcomm@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.
Agnes Crentsil believes "language is access". By applying this mantra, Agnes has managed to establish a long and successful career in the field of technical communications. Agnes provides some invaluable tips on how you, as a technical writer, can provide value to the business and build successful connections with the C-suite executives. Guest BioPersonal: Married, 2 young adults, Aston- mixed breed dog (terrier, lab, Pitbull)Loves traveling and vacationing with familyCareer:  Work at NETSCOUT – Product MarketingServed as President of STC Lone Chapter from 2017-2018, also held previous other positions.Board member: UNT TechComms (2+ years)Past VP of Public Relations – Toastronix Toastmasters group at NETSCOUT9 Years Technical Writer – wrote documents for various technical products11 Years Manager – Managed anywhere from 12 to 10 writers at a given time4 years Product Marketing Manager – Responsible for initiating and driving alliance for key technical products to promote awareness and thought leadership for my organization.Volunteer:North Texas Lone Star Chapter -Mentoring ProgramSTC Diversity Inclusion, Equity, PanelSTC CAA Awards PanelEducation:  Amberton UniversityBSc – Computer Information System and BusinessMaster of Science – Human Relations and BusinessRecommended Resource:  Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High by Kerry PattersonIf you have thoughts to share, please do write to me at insidetechcomm@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you. 
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