Susan McGowan has more than 20 years of business experience in various roles (project management, internal auditing, clinical trial assistant) in multiple industries (telecommunications, hospitality, pharmaceutical, and most recently electric power), and she has learned that there’s always a need for training no matter what the industry or the employee’s role, title, and level.
“Anyone in any industry has knowledge gaps that training can address,” McGowan said. “Good leaders know that a company’s human capital is its most valuable asset. Training is an investment that is a win-win for companies and employees alike; it results in improved employee performance, enhanced company profits, increased worker productivity, improved customer satisfaction, improved employee satisfaction and retention, and an improved competitive edge.”
McGowan is an instructional designer at SOS Intl and is an integral part of the continuing effort to revise the NERC Certification Training program to enhance students’ retention of material for the NERC certification exam. The most recent revision includes updating content to align more closely with the NERC test content and a refreshed look and feel for the modules.
Her current position helps her develop and design content and material for training “by providing our students with the best training material possible in the expected timeframes,” she said. Using ADDIE and a Systematic Approach to Training (SAT), McGowan designs and develops online training courses and assist with developing curriculum for system operators.
“Learning happens through our experiences and through the things we see and hear; it is a natural process. We learn through our social interactions and conversations with others, as well as, when we reflect on life,” she said. “A formal course intrudes on the student’s natural learning path. This intrusion circumvents the natural learning process by not waiting for the student to stumble upon what they need to know or do, but by focusing the student immediately to what they need to know or do. So when a learning experience is manufactured, it gets students focused on the right things thereby compressing the learning process and saving time.”
Her role as an Instructional Designer is to use the learning process for transferring new information and knowledge to students, and to help students make sense of the new information they receive. McGowan conceptually and intuitively understands how people learn. She develops training that capitalizes on those different ways and connects on an emotional level by imagining herself as the student/audience member. She visualizes the instructional graphics, user interfaces, interactions, and the finished product.
McGowan began her career in telecommunications, which is all about communications and teamwork, i.e., working together and using effective verbal and written communication skills to effectively deliver a message, she said.
“Instructional design is also about delivering a message. Good communication skills and teamwork developed through years of practice help me create, develop and deliver effective training to SOS clients,” McGowan said.
She explained that the telecommunications industry has many similarities with the power industry. Calls originate, then travel across a distribution network, with signals being boosted along the way, before terminating with a residential or business customer.
“Like the power industry, the telecommunications industry is a utility industry that is regulated by the federal government, although not as heavily as it once was,” she said. “Moving out of the telecommunications industry and into the power industry felt like a natural progression.”
McGowan has worked on several programs for SOS Intl, having delivered SOS bookshelf training for NERC Certification Prep Online, Effective Communications, Power System Fundamentals, and NERC Operational Standards. She has also delivered client custom training for Critical Infrastructure Protection (online, ILT), and Transmission Vegetation Management (online). She is currently working on developing the Emergency Operations Plan training modules on Operation Standards for System Operators.
McGowan gains satisfaction from seeing system operators passing their NERC exams after completing NERC prep training courses. She also said she works with some of the best and brightest people in the industry.
“The level and depth of knowledge at SOS is fantastic. SOS has some of the most experienced trainers, instructional designers, engineers, and compliance experts in the industry. I am always learning something new every day from my co-workers, in addition to being able to share my knowledge and expertise,” she said.
McGowan doesn’t slow down in her spare time; she enjoys spending time with family and friends, exercising regularly at the gym, boating on Lake Norman on the weekends, and volunteering personal time at a local non-profit animal shelter each month to assist them with various projects. In addition, she has an A.B.A. paralegal certificate and occasionally finds herself drafting landlord/tenant residential lease agreements for a family member.