Change agents: Leaders in information management technology
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A tight budget at a job in the 1990s made Melissa English -- the 2015 president of the Oracle Applications Users Group (OAUG) -- the Oracle user she is today. For the past 20 years, English has worked as an educator and trainer for Oracle E-Business Suite, and she has spent the last four years overseeing global change management and EBS training processes at Alticor Inc. and its Amway subsidiary. English brought her experience to the OAUG with her first board position -- a seat on the education committee. But if the purse strings had been just a little looser at her government job in the '90s, she wouldn't have ended up in Oracle education at all.
Back then, English was working with EBS as an end user doing accounts payable work and helping out with a project team at the Hamilton County Department of Human Services in Ohio. She was also the designated conference attendee for her group. A tight budget meant only one person could go to a conference, so when she got back, she was also in charge of training everyone about everything she had learned. "When you explain things correctly, people connect the dots," English said. "You can see a light go off in their heads. That quickly became for me the most inspiring part."
English found educating her co-workers motivating enough to change her plans and go back to school at the University of Cincinnati to take business courses with a focus on education. She also took side classes at other local colleges to learn about facilitation. Subjects left the realm of Oracle and EBS entirely, including topics like public speaking and interpreting body language.
Three years later, English had switched from the technical to the functional side and was working as a training delivery consultant. Ten years after that, in 2011, she was employed at Alticor -- the Ada, Mich.-based parent of multi-level marketing company Amway -- and in charge of training and global organizational change management for its EBS applications. She describes her job as "making sure people are ready for business transformations before EBS is implemented." Global change management has been a growing field over the last 10 to 15 years as companies have needed to become increasingly agile with business changes coming faster and faster. "I think companies are realizing that they need to teach their employees to be flexible and go with the flow when change happens," English said.
Melissa EnglishPresident, OAUG
Organizational change management, according to English, is "the people side of change. [It's] training people to expect that things are going to be different at a faster pace." Specifically, change management is a combination of training, communications and change impact analysis. What she teaches is more than just a skill set, however. "I help the company understand what we need to do to assist the people to prepare for the change that's coming," English said.
English uses what she learned studying to be an educator to make sure that an EBS upgrade can go smoothly across the more than 88 countries where Alticor has offices, and that everyone using EBS in those offices knows how the changes will affect them. As the new president of the OAUG, she believes the group can help with global change management and hopes to use her presidency to improve Oracle education.
English said how companies deal with changes inside their software is different from how they deal with changes that happen outside the software -- for example, changes in duties, needing fewer people in a specific area and avoiding incidents with major effects on the company. The OAUG, she said, can provide training and communication, as well as putting users in touch with others who have gone through the same process.
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