Meet Jason Grodan, a Software Training Specialist at Tasktop! We spoke to Jason about the different training classes Tasktop offers, bouldering, and what it’s like to work from home.
How do you start your day before work
My mornings start around 6am and include making breakfast and freshly ground coffee for my wife, and getting my kids ready for homeschool. We have two boys, 10 and 9 years, and a girl, 1.5 years. It’s an interesting mix. Some days it’s a quick meal and sometimes it’s the works -omelette, bacon, pancakes, hash browns, etc. I like to get my mind working in the morning and cooking allows me to practice my multitasking and creativity. I also do all the dishes (my wife really appreciates that as she cooks regularly) and any other chores early in the week, so that my weekends are free to spend time with family and relax. Yes my mornings are crazy busy but my weekends are better as a result. My morning is not complete without my daily walk/jog for about half an hour. We have a lot of hills in our area so I can really get a good workout. I Also like to spend a little bit of time stretching and doing light exercises, reading or playing with my daughter before I dive into some work. I find it important to be ready both physically and mentally for my day as it makes me so more energized and productive.
What is your role at Tasktop?
My role at Tasktop is a ‘Software Training Specialist’. I’ve been in this for about 2.5 years and I love it. I am part of the Customer Success Team and we (my manager Brian Ashcraft and I) are responsible for creating and delivering training for our Products. This includes Tasktop Sync (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced), Tasktop Integration Hub (Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Gateway, Enterprise Data Stream, Admin), Flow Framework (Flow Frame Information Session, Flow Framework Fundamental) and Tasktop Viz (In progress). We provide training for Customers and Partners as well as new employees. Some of the other things I do are enabling other team members to also deliver training, some technical writing, training content creation/updates, certification management for Sync and Tasktop Integration Hub, scheduling, reporting, and maintaining our training infrastructure (we use Skytap VMs to deliver instructor led training with hands on exercises). Our customers really love the format of our training classes because we provide everyone with a live instance of Tasktop to use. At any point in time, they can ask questions if they need help.
What does a typical day as a Software Training Specialist look like for you?
I typically start work between 8-9am. If I’m not attending a meeting I’ll start my day looking through our Trello Board for any high priority tasks or projects. I like Trello because it’s super easy to use and I’m more of a visual person, so I find dragging and dropping cards into lists very intuitive. By the way, Trello is one of the many tools that we integrate. I’ll actually tackle ones that are small and quick to get them off my plate. This kind of warms me up so to speak to prepare me to work on bigger projects such reviewing and comparing different LMS vendors, creating new training content for Viz, or creating a Quick Start Guide for Jira to Planview integrations.
Depending on the day I may also be delivering a training class on Tasktop Integration Hub. These classes typically are 2-2.5 hours long. I enjoy these the most because I get to interact with various types of people in different roles. It’s both a teaching and a learning experience for me. I get all kinds of interesting questions and feedback from everyone.
Often times I will be reviewing our existing training decks to either update them or talk about new features that have been released. I comb through our amazing User Guide (thanks to the Rebecca Dobbin from the Product Development team!) regularly to pull in useful information for training. I enjoy the process of distilling information from various sources and putting it into a format that our trainees can easily digest and comprehend. Beyond training classes we also have a plethora of other resources such as user guides, videos, blogs, e-books, case studies, white papers, on-demand webinars etc. Click here to view our Resource Center.
On occasion I will also connect with some of our more technical team members who are also delivering training to discuss how we can improve our classes. I recently met up with Christoph Thiele, Sr. Customer Success Engineer (Team Lead) to update our Admin Training class. We streamlined some of the content, updated screenshots and included some new information on the Health Check Rest API feature.
Last week when I was getting Andreas Plette (Technical Account Manager) enabled on delivering our Tasktop Intermediate class, he provided some great feedback on some of the hands on exercises as well as some other ideas for new topics. I enjoy these meetings, it’s a great way to learn and connect with others on the team.
In the afternoons, if I’m not too busy I’ll head to my local rock climbing gym to do some bouldering. Bouldering is a sport that involves climbing indoor walls 10-20 feet high without a rope. If you fall, you land on a giant crashpad. It’s super fun! I’ve been climbing on and off for the past 15 years. I’ve climbed both indoors and outdoors and have competed locally for fun. Squamish, just north of Vancouver is the climbing mecca of BC. Over the years, I have done a lot of bouldering, top-roping as well as sport-climbing there. Now that I have 3 kids, I’ve been limited to the gym but it’s a great way to get exercise and keep my mind sharp.
When I get back from the gym, I usually check my inbox for notifications on anyone who has completed training classes required to earn certificates. For Tasktop Sync, people have to complete all three Basic, Intermediate and Advanced classes and they get sent an e-certificate sent to them with the designation of Tasktop Integration Professional Sync. For Tasktop Integration Hub, people have to complete the Basic, Intermediate, Advanced and Admin classes to qualify for the same certification but for Hub.They also receive a complimentary hard copy of Dominica DeGrandis’ book titled ‘Making Work Visible’ sent to them. Not a bad deal!
Managing our training Infrastructure is an ongoing thing. We serve up VMs for our trainees that include a live instance of Tasktop installed in Windows Server environment. Skytap allows us to create custom templates for the VMs and tailor it to our training needs. Often times though, we have to upgrade these VMs, which include installing the latest version of Tasktop and tools like Jira and Micro Focus ALM, which we use for training. Each time we upgrade Tasktop on these templates, I run through all the hands on exercises to make sure things are still working as expected so that the training classes run as seamlessly as possible. Often times there might be a new feature or the UI may change, so I need to be able to reflect that in our training. It can be time consuming, but I actually really enjoy this process because I get to test out and learn about Tasktop’s new features.
Near the end of the day I will spend most of my time working on scheduling new training classes for the upcoming month. All of our class schedules can be found at https://www.tasktop.com/training. This involves checking every trainer’s availability via Google Calendar, creating Marketo and Salesforce campaigns and updating our website. Although we offer regularly run public courses, sometimes we will accommodate requests for private training sessions especially when there is a large team that wants to train together. For those that want a self-paced approach to learning, we sometimes offer this for the Tasktop Basic and Intermediate class. We provide people with reading material that includes exercises and a VM with an instance of Tasktop installed. We try our best to cover most time zones, but we will accommodate requests for other dates/times depending on trainer availability.
On Fridays, I’ll spend about some time creating our Training Attendance Report that we share and discuss in our weekly Customer Success Meeting. We track everyone who has attended a training class. The report breaks down the attendance by Salesforce Account type, that way we know how many customers are attending versus partners vs prospects, etc. It also allows us to see whether our training attendance is increasing or decreasing. The report shows us how many new companies have taken training for the quarter and other trends like the number of attendees by class.
Greatest accomplishment at Tasktop thus far
I’m very proud of our average Training NPS score of 72 for the last 12 months. This is a collective effort by everyone who is delivering training and includes: Brian Ashcraft, Christoph Thiele, Airon Peralta, Matt Tilney, Bob Lorain, David King, Jason White, Brian Barr, Andreas Plette, Laksh Ranganathan and myself. It’s only through everyone’s efforts that we are able to collectively provide world class training to all of our customers and partners. So a very huge thanks!
Go-to workday lunch?
Since I work from home full time, I also eat lunch at home. The nice thing about having a wife that is passionate about cooking is that I get to eat delicious and healthy meals almost every day. Her homemade butter chicken is to die for, but one of my favorite things she’s made is homemade pesto pizza. She makes everything from scratch including the pesto sauce and crust. It’s also nice because I get to spend a little bit of time with my wife during the day. Between work, school and family obligations, we’re super busy and so it’s nice to have a little downtime where we can connect even if it’s just for half an hour.
Favourite Tasktop memory?
My favourite memory is when our whole GTM team met in person in Vegas last year for a few days. It was memorable for several reasons. For one, it was my first time going to Vegas and so sightseeing was fun. I’m not really a fan of big crowds or gambling but it was interesting to watch others play. I really enjoyed connecting with other individuals from different departments that I wouldn’t normally talk to. I often chat with my manager Brian via Slack or Zoom but being in the same place is a whole different experience. I really enjoy the few times throughout the year that we can meet face to face.
How would you describe working at Tasktop in one sentence?
It’s a huge opportunity and blessing to work with an amazing bunch of smart people, visionary leaders, and cutting edge products, in an environment that encourages work/life balance and healthy living. I’m not saying that Tasktop is the perfect company, but it’s close. Honestly it’s the best place I’ve worked at in my life.
Want to work with Jason?
We’re hiring! We have a number of interesting roles across the company in sales, product development, customer success, operations, and business development. View job opportunities.