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Wearing Many Hats

By Surag Ramachandran | STC Member

I work as AVP and Head of Product Content and Learning at MBB Labs, the global innovation center for Maybank, the largest bank in Malaysia. I work in Bangalore, India, in a research and development wing that functions like a startup. I was among the first fifty employees, and the company was looking for people with multiple skill sets to join them. In this role, I oversee technical documentation, marketing communication, (marcomm), and learning.

Before joining Maybank, I worked at Oracle. At Oracle and other multinational corporations, the three roles I oversee are performed by three different professionals. However, since the Bangalore wing of Maybank was just beginning, Maybank was looking for people who could take on multiple roles. I was used to managing technical documentation at Oracle as Senior Documentation Manager, but marcomm and learning management were new to me.

Becoming familiar with marcomm and learning management from a technical writing background made me realize that other technical communicators could also adapt to take on additional responsibilities. When I was asked to form a team, I looked for technical writers who were interested in expanding into new areas. I explained the job role to candidates, and hired ones who were really enthused about the prospect of learning new things. Each hire is unique, and I am grateful that the three team members I hired are capable and motivated.

In marcomm, one of our major deliverables is videos, especially explainer videos. We started doing videos because we found that the decision makers may not have two hours to read a document, but can find time for a two minute video. Explainer videos are short and focused. For the technical writers I hired, creating full-fledged documents and distilling content for short, crisp videos was already part of their skill set. Writing the script and narration and getting them approved was also the part of the process.

In learning, it’s important to get the outline and structure of the deliverables ready before proceeding with the content, quite similar to the process of writing a user guide. While user guides “guide” the user through a process, structured learning content “trains” the user to perform a task.

The disadvantage of performing multiple roles is that you really have to be super productive and not let one responsibility impact the others. However, the advantages to having multiple skill sets far outweigh the disadvantages. Apart from being able to learn many new things and interact with multiple people in different roles, you also have many different career paths and options to pursue. These same things motivated my team members to join my team and perform their responsibilities. To say that I am proud of my team is an understatement. We have achieved a lot in very little time, and we’re really looking forward to doing more in the future.

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