Sandy Wilson is a solid instructional designer, trainer, facilitator, and speaker with a strong background in project management.
Her engaging style and extensive knowledge of curriculum design have helped her develop and deliver effective teaching and training for over 20 years.
Sandy’s energy, hard work, and can-do attitude are strengths on which her clients rely.
She regularly creates and facilitates traditional and online programs on a range of soft-skill and technical topics.
Sandy has worked with such organizations as Johns Hopkins University, Dominion Virginia Power, the Virginia Department of Transportation, the US Army, the Department of Homeland Security, and WellPoint/Anthem Healthcare.
Sandy started her career in retail management, selling items ranging from electronics to clothing. Through a series of roles, she learned inventory management, sales, customer service, interviewing, hiring, and people management.
After several years in the field, Sandy returned to school and completed her graduate studies in education.
Armed with a new credential, she traded the retail world for the classroom and began working in the North Carolina Public School System. There she put what she’d learned about classroom management, metrics, and instructional design into practice and earned the title “teacher of the year.”
Sandy continued perfecting her craft and eventually won a position as a curriculum facilitator.
In that role, her work in adult learning and facilitation began. In addition to training teachers on best practices for deploying content in the classroom, she taught classroom management, lesson planning, and learning assessment.
She also regularly delivered keynotes on such topics as understanding poverty’s impact on learning and technology integration in the classroom.
The next phase of Sandy’s career began when an opportunity to develop her distance learning skills presented itself, and she started teaching and designing online courses for high-school and college students.
As people in her professional network became familiar with her skills, Sandy had opportunities to contribute to a range other projects. Eventually, she was recruited into the corporate world and assigned on a contract with the US Army’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear (CBRN) School. In that role, she worked with a team to create curricula covering an array of technical skills.
Her projects soon expanded to include online training design, facilitated classroom program design, and course facilitation for such organizations as the Virginia Department of Transportation, the US Army’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal Directorate, Dominion Power, and K12.
Some of her design work includes courses in leadership, multicultural diversity, communication, classroom instruction, and facilitation skills. Additionally, Sandy has participated in organizational development initiatives for the FAA and 508 compliance projects for Johns Hopkins University.
Sandy began working with Business Training Works in 2017.
Sandy holds a BA in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MEd from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She has also earned a graduate certificate in project management with a concentration in instructional technology from Capella University.
An Interview with Sandy
What three or four words describe your facilitation style?
Present, engaging, and personalized.
How do you plan for a training session?
First, I need to understand why a client is requesting training. I do this by researching, becoming familiar with the client’s environment, asking questions, and listening to what I’m told. Once I have a sense of what’s going on, I tailor my approach.
How has your experience in public education influenced your work in the corporate field?
I’m so glad you asked that. When I first entered the world of corporate training and design, I got the sense that some people thought, “Oh, she’s just a teacher.” Well let me tell you what you learn in the public school system. You learn how to think on your feet. You learn patience. You learn to navigate bureaucracy. You learn to manage personalities and politics. You learn to do more with less. You learn all of that while at the same time being responsible for other people’s children. A lot of those experiences translate. They’ve definitely affected my soft-skills work.
You’ve got a fun-loving approach to training and an interactive style when you’re facilitating. Where did you learn that?
I don’t know if I learned it or if it’s just who I am. I’ve always enjoyed getting people excited and engaged.
As you remember, I was a cheerleader in high school and a cheerleading captain in college. When I think about it, that’s probably when I got the engagement bug.
What aspect of learning and development do you like best?
I’m a solid designer, but what energizes me is classroom training – especially when I can see someone connect or reconnect with their purpose and help them put a plan in place to fulfill it.
I’ve worked on a lot of organizational development projects where I’ve encountered people who can do their work well, but they don’t love or even like what they do. If I can prevent that from happening or stop it from happening, it’s a good day.
You’ve done a lot of work with the military. How did that differ from your other experience?
When you’re designing material that’s going to influence outcomes in the field, what you’re doing can be the difference between life and death. I’m not saying that to be dramatic; it’s the truth, and it’s sobering. Nothing like that calculus will make you take a project seriously and work extremely hard to make your content relevant, engaging, and memorable. When I was supporting the military, I knew my learners wouldn’t always have the luxury of a job aid. They needed to know the content cold, and I did everything I could to make that happen.
You’ve seen a lot of training and teaching in your career; what frustrates you or doesn’t work?
Bad design is the root cause of a lot of poor work.
You’ve got to know the client, you’ve got to know the message, and you’ve got to understand the gap that exists between what is and what should be.
You also need to know what’s been tried and hasn’t worked. You don’t want to present a solution that’s been implemented and has failed – especially when failure has happened more than once.
How do you stay current with what’s happening in talent development?
People. Everyone’s an expert in something. In my career, I’ve been lucky to surround myself with people who know about organizational development, mobile learning, online course design, and facilitation. They’ve taught me a lot.
When you’re not working, what are your interests?
The usual stuff that makes most people happy – spending time with my family, traveling, and listening to music. I also enjoy swimming and dancing.