By Viqui Dill and Sara Buchanan
Buckle in, you're about to learn about the wonderfully talented, funny, and experienced Viqui Dill. She has taken the time to give me a wonderfully detailed and honest interview about her life and experiences as a woman in the workforce and active member of STC.
Viqui has been an STC member since 2007 when she was newly hired at American Woodmark. She shares, "my coworker, Nancy Mule' very enthusiastically recommended the society and mentored me through the registration process. My first community affiliation was with the Washington, DC – Baltimore chapter. I remember how nervous I was when I attended my first event. But I ran into Carolyn Klinger by chance in the women's room and she put me instantly at ease. She introduced me to Annette Reilly who was the speaker for the day. I also met Helen Sydavar and we exchanged business cards. From that meeting on, I have looked forward to our face-to-face meetings and try to be more like Carolyn and put new attendees at ease."
Currently, Viqui serves as a co-manager for the Instructional Design & Learning (IDL) Special Interest Group (SIG). Her journey with the IDL SIG started in 2012 when her and Robert Hershenow were both members of the Rough Drafts band and presenters in the instructional design progression session. Robert invited her to the SIG based on the content of her presentation and explained that they were looking for someone to take over the webinar programs. Viqui shares, "Robert was co-managing with Mellissa Ruryk and I loved their leadership style, empowering volunteers to do whatever best used their strengths. I love putting on the webinars because it's a platform for showing off the great rock stars of our field and sharing great information with the community. I always learn something and I get a chance to get to know the presenters in the process."
Viqui is "a bad ass bass player. Bass is the most bad ass of all instruments." She played at #STC17 with the Rough Drafts! She even shared proof:
Viqui works at American Woodmark as a Technical Communication Leader supporting infrastructure projects that touch all the employees at the company. She reports directly to the CIO and "works with and learns from some of the smartest, sharpest folks from all across the company, from Sacramento to Orlando." She continues, "I have the best job ever. My company has an annual President’s Award for projects that have a big impact on the way we do business. I’ve worked on two winning teams that were recognized by the company president, one for Quality, and another for our builder service centers. It’s great to be a part of a winning team and even better when the team gets recognized by the president. Also, my company has a very strong culture of caring. We have a number of committees that ensure we walk the talk. I am a member of a team that sets up monthly lunch and learn sessions that give employees an opportunity to tell their own personal and professional stories. The speakers are so candid and the sessions are so heart-warming that I love working on this team."
Viqui took her first tech writer job at BMC software. She was working as a software developer and wasn't enjoying it when her friend, Mary Boyd, invited her to apply to a tech writer job. Viqui shares, "I loved the work immediately and enjoyed staying in the technical world without having to write the code. I'm an extrovert and the additional opportunities for human interaction were a good fit."
Her journey includes a BS from Virginia Tech in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research where she learned to think analytically and pull apart problems into manageable pieces. Her education continues through her work with STC where, according to her, "I learn something from y’all most every day. We have our Summits and regional conferences (I’m going to Interchange and Conduit this year). We have webinars. We have social media. You teach me leadership skills, project management, learning theory, practical hands-on tips, and tool mastery. You pretty much mentor me through the whole tech comm process." American Wookmark, her workplace, recognizes the value of her STC membership and involvement as the best way to develop and sustain her job skills. She continues, "I am lucky to work for a company that supports my professional development by covering my membership, event attendance, and some of my volunteer time."
Viqui told me that if she could give advice to herself she wouldn't "take things so seriously. My biggest mistakes have been made when I was thinking that something was a big deal when it really wasn’t."
I asked Viqui how the Tech Comm industry has changed throughout her career to which she responded, "We have gotten lighter, tighter, and much much faster. We no longer produce paper manuals so there’s an expectation of getting a quick turnaround on projects that didn’t use to happen. And crowdsourcing is possible because we can get our user communities involved. And because we have our online tech comm communities, I have so many more resources available to me. I think y’all have made me smarter every year as I hang out in the online #TechComm world."
She shares the struggles she's experienced as a leader,"Leading volunteers is tricky. You’ve got to be willing to be the one who does jobs nobody else wants to do. You’ve got to love love love the folks who are willing to walk with you. That’s why STC is so great. We have great leaders and they set a great example for the rest of us to follow. Servant leadership works every time." I work with her in the IDL SIG and I can attest to her wonderful leadership and true appreciation for the work everyone does.
Viqui further shares her experiences as a woman in the workforce, "So one of the reasons I love tech comm over programming and engineering is because we’re female friendly. When I’m struggling to earn the respect of a colleague at work, I try to keep in mind the overwhelming respect I receive in STC and also here at work from my supportive management. We do eventually win people over and having the support is so important. We’ve come a long way (baby). Read this blog post about my own personal harassment story that happened back in 1978."
When asked about how she maintains work/life balance, Viqui shares, "I’m an energetic empty nester. I raised my son and I raised my husband and now it’s time to raise myself. I say “yes” a lot. Volunteering is fun and energizing. Plus, I get to work with a lot of smart and talented people as I volunteer." And, my personal favorite, "I only wear comfortable shoes."
Thank you Viqui!
*This article was first published by Northeast Ohio Society for Technical Communication. See: http://neostc.org/cmswp/in-the-spotlight-viqui-dill/