Boston Broadside
March/April 2003
Vol. 60,  No. 4
 Newsletter of the Boston Chapter of the Society for Technical Communication


Copyright © STC Boston 2003

Society Elections

Deborah Sauer: Candidate for Second Vice President

By Deborah Sauer

Deborah Sauer

I started in this profession 20 years ago and I still write user manuals. However, now I also develop Help systems, design user interfaces, and perform usability tests. I also provide training in skills (such as technical writing and editing) and tools (such as FrameMaker and RoboHelp) in public workshops, customized courses, and at universities. In addition, as an independent consultant, I make business decisions on a daily basis.

I have been an independent consultant for five years. I decided that, to be successful, I needed to diversify in terms of clients, the technologies that they represented, and the tools that I used in my work. As a result, my work is far more interesting and rewarding than it was five years ago.

To research potential clients, I worked on the local STC chapter competitions and perused the winning entries at the awards banquet. I focused on companies taking new approaches to delivering content and developing innovative products. I actively pursued those companies as clients, many of whom I could connect with through STC relationships.

Now, my clients represent a variety of industries from computer chips manufacturers to consumer electronics companies. They range in size from 20 to 200,000 employees. Working with such varied clients has given me the opportunity to learn a broad range of business practices.

I can also directly attribute my business skills to my work for the STC. As president of the Boston chapter, I managed teams and budgets, made cold calls, and initiated the development of a chapter strategic plan. I then became involved in the STC annual conference, first as a stem manager, later as a program manager, and now as the assistant to the president for conferences. These roles have given me experience in managing projects and teams, and working with large budgets.

To expand my business, I decided to pursue user interface design. I provided interface design feedback while documenting products. My contributions were seen as valuable in making products more usable and, therefore, less likely to be returned. Managers included me in design discussions, user interface design went on my resume, and, before long, became part of the scope of the project when a client hired me.

Attending STC program meetings and sessions at the annual conference and brainstorming with colleagues have given me ideas as I look for innovative ways to deliver information. For example, I worked on a Web site that customers can tailor to their needs. I also developed a voice guidance system that talks the customer through procedures as they perform them

It was this new approach to delivering information that brought home for me the global nature of my work. I received a cell phone call from my California-based product manager, who was in Singapore, telling me that he had played my voice guidance recordings at a board of directors meeting with representatives from Europe, India, Hong Kong, and the United States. That gave me perspective on just how far-reaching my work had become.

Over the years, I have worked in many capacities, both in the profession and in my STC roles. All this enables me to view the challenges and opportunities that face the profession and the STC from a broad base of experience. I can provide the leadership needed to make sound business decisions as the STC creates programs to address the needs of our growing and diverse membership. Also, I can offer a voice on the board to multiple interests. The office of STC second vice-president is an important one because the elected individual automatically becomes first vice-president and then president of the Society. I hope you will consider giving me your vote.

Deborah Sauer can be reached at .

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