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ADI people: Introducing Tom, Education Support Specialist

1 Jun 2016
Tom

This week we’d like to introduce Tom, our talented Education Support specialist. Based in Oxford, Tom travels all over the UK and EU region helping with installations of education software and hardware at universities and health science institutions, as well as running workshops for educators wanting to upskill or explore the different applications available in LabChart, LabTutor and Lt. Tom’s educational background is in Chemistry and he has previously held a position as Technical Graduate with a UK Steelworks factory. While looking for a new challenge, Tom applied for a sales role at ADInstruments, but as fortune would have it a support position closer to Tom’s skill set opened up at the same time, and the rest is history!

Tell us a bit about what you do.

As the Education Support Specialist for ADInstruments Europe, I support and train customers (and our own staff) in using our entire Education Product Line! Ultimately this boils down to making sure our Education customers are happy and successful when using our products - happy customers = more repeat business and more referrals! My time is split between managing Education customer inquiries in the EU office and installing new equipment and delivering training to customers in the field. I also do random other odd jobs depending on what’s required...

What do you love about it? What’s the best part of your job?

It’s always challenging! No two days are the same, and no two customer inquiries are alike. It keeps you on your toes. The variety and challenge keep me engaged, and I like investigating things I don’t know the answer to - I like puzzles. I also relish in seeing our customer success first hand through visits in the field - it’s a real high to see people so enthused about us as a company.

And of course - the people at ADI are pretty awesome.

How did you become interested in science and education? Did you always want to work in this field? Was there an ‘aha’ moment?

I’ve always been logical and analytical (reflected by my total lack of talent in anything kind of artsy activity, albeit I am a dab hand in Lt these days...), so I’ve naturally leaned toward scientific disciplines. Having specialised in our Education products, I’ve naturally developed an interest in pedagogy and teaching. I actually didn’t think I’d be involved in education at all, but as it turns out I have quite the affinity for talking about teaching concepts!

I think perhaps when I started supporting customers using LabTutor 3 back when I started in 2009, I think some switch was flipped in my head...

Do you have a science/education hero? Who has inspired you?

My Education Hero is Tony Wales at the University of the West of Scotland. Tony has been practising and teaching Nursing for most, if not all of his career. To see someone so dedicated to teaching, and still forward-thinking when it comes to re-inventing how he teaches through using Lt is truly inspiring. And to boot, such a genuinely nice guy!

What advice would you give to someone starting out in this career? For you, is your work about the journey or the destination? Do you enjoy the process or the outcome most?

You’ll need to be inquisitive and flexible. Adapting to different customer inquiries is important in being able to address them effectively, and also portray the Support function as knowledgeable. You also need to be able to communicate very effectively across all levels - the Support function is customer-facing after all!

For me the journey is just as important as the destination. I’m never satisfied with an answer until I understand how that answer was reached. It’s really the philosophy of teaching - ‘knowing’ something is not the same as just being able to regurgitate the answer. I derive just as much satisfaction working on a problem as I do in solving it!

By Alex Sides

Scientific Writer

ADInstruments