Technical certifications for non-technical people: the unexpected benefits (Part 1)

Hannah Ryan

Learning Experience Lead

March 1, 2024

Part 1 of this three-part blog series explores how getting certified helps to bridge communication gaps between technical and non-technical employees.

Co-authored by Emerald Leung, Communications Manager

The Versent org chart is mostly technical staff, with engineers off on their engagements, shipping code and talking jargon like a well-oiled machine. Meanwhile, communications and learning — our specialisations — operate at the periphery. While we have a general appreciation for what our colleagues do, we often feel we’d benefit from a crash-course in engineer-speak.

How it started: Megacertapalooza

Megacertapalooza is our annual certification drive at Versent — an opportunity for our employees to end the year by obtaining technical certifications. While our engineering talent pursue certification year-round, Megacertapalooza is a time to supercharge the certification experience through enablement sessions, study groups, prizes and some friendly competition.

It’s also the perfect opportunity for non-technical team members to dip their toe into the world our technical team members live and breathe every day. And that’s exactly what we — a comms manager and learning lead — did. Aside from the personal satisfaction of being awarded a certification, we found three other very real and surprising benefits.


Bridging a communication gap

Have you ever been in a conversation where you felt like you needed a translator? That’s pretty much every single conversation in our office kitchen. Bridging the communication gap impacts everything we do, from blog reviews, to selecting the right training courses, to job descriptions and hiring, to engaging in random kitchen banter as we are unpacking the dishwasher together.

Navigating the communication gap between technical and non-technical employees is not a challenge that is unique to Versent. Technical jargon and endless acronyms like CDNs, NoSQL, DDoS can create barriers that hinder understanding and effective collaboration.

Getting certified was an opportunity to bridge this communication gap. By immersing ourselves in the language and concepts that our colleagues deal with every single day we gained a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities of the industry. AWS, Microsoft and other cloud providers and partners have specific terminology, and just knowing this terminology has opened doors to better understanding daily water cooler conversations, blogs, and technical updates.

We now know how our people feel when their webcam won’t work 5 minutes before the online exam is due to start so the exam is forfeited🤯

Empathy is the ability to sense, understand and imagine how someone may be feeling. It’s also a fundamental principle when it comes to creating impactful communications and meaningful learning experiences. Over our time at Versent, we’ve gathered some useful insights into what it means to be a Versentonian and what our colleagues need to perform at their best. Experiencing the certification process first-hand (and the stress that can come with it, like mandatory video streaming for invigilation not working!) has given us both a better understanding of our colleagues. This deeper understanding gives us more insights that we can use in our own specialisms.

Fostering a culture of support and collaboration, and heading towards a common goal

Collaboration lies at the heart of our Versent’s success, and our journey with technical certifications reinforced this. By working closely with colleagues to prepare for their own certification exams, we forged relationships built on trust and a dedication to being masters of our craft. These collaborative efforts extended beyond exam preparation conversations and have spilled over into day-to-day interactions, such as in our Slack channels #aws-azure-support-newbs and #versent-academy. We strongly believe that a culture of collaboration is a competitive advantage.

One of the most rewarding aspects of getting certified is experiencing firsthand how willing others are to provide advice and guidance.

People learn and work in diverse ways, but we both benefitted from the perspectives and tips of our colleagues, which helped us build new relationships and strengthen existing ones.

Our pursuit of certs was driven by a commitment to continuous improvement — to be better. An unexpected by-product of getting certified is the feeling that we can contribute more effectively to achieving Versent’s strategic objectives. This doesn’t mean that we’re lining up to jump onto the next replatforming migration, rather, we’re able to continue to enhance our own specialisations through communication, empathy and collaboration.

Next up: Part 2… how getting tech certified specifically helped our respective domains of HR, finance and internal communications.


Great Tech-Spectations

Great Tech-Spectations

The Versent & AWS Great Tech-Spectations report explores how Aussies feel about tech in their everyday lives and how it measures up to expectations. Download the report now for a blueprint on how to meet consumer’s growing demands.