Friday, June 23, 2006

The Tale of Two Consultants

I think that consulting is continuously evolving. In fact, much of what consulting is, can be determined by the word that precedes it. Whether that is employment consulting, technology consulting, educational consulting or personal consulting. Much of what happens is subservient to the environment in which it occurs.

Although there are now more detailed descriptions of the process of consulting, the meaning and the results are still embedded in the structure or scaffolding of the consultation itself.

In order to explore this a bit, I have posted two interviews with two different types of consultants, and have attempted to show how the consultants themselves, describe their work in terms of the environment that they work in.

I think that this is important to the individual who is contemplating adding consultancy to their repertoire of work skills…whether you are a coordinator, a teacher, or an employee or teacher. It is likely that learning more about consulting, goes a long way in improving our skills as professionals whatever the field. Furthermore, today’s flexibility in consulting allows anyone to learn to be a consultant in their preferred setting.

In terms of my own consulting vision, I even see combinations of consultant areas being blended together to consult in fields that don’t traditionally lend themselves to such elements. I also see more and more folks becoming collaborative consultants or even co-consultants, or consultant teams.

So here are two interviews from folks who are consultants in somewhat different fields. One is an employment consultant, and the other for lack of a better word is a community of practice (education) consultant. In their own words I think that the listener will find many similarities in what they do but also find that what they do is tremendously influenced by the environment in which they practice.


In the first interview, I spoke with Bill Fenson. Bill heads up his own consulting firm, The Skills Emporium, LLC and has been a leader in improving employee performance through individual career alignment for over twelve years. Bill currently serves as Business Career Services department at University of Texas at Arlington . He has more than 14 years of experience in counseling and assisting corporate employees in transition.

Bill has also authored numerous papers and a book, Implementing and Managing Telework, A Guide for Those Who Make It Happen . He is an oft-requested speaker at business related conventions and is active in a variety of civic groups. He is the former President of the National Employment Counseling Association .

I interviewed Bill in my “extension office”…America’s Best Coffee Shop in Arlington, Texas, where I often plug in my laptop and communicate with colleagues and clients all over the world. Because I work mostly on-line from home, it is a real treat to go out and even greater to visit one on one with an old friend like Bill. Click the arrow below to listen to our interview.

Consultant Interview with Bill Fenson

(This interview with recorded with a Radio Shack microphone and Radio Shack Vox digital recorder. I apologize for the amount of background noise. The interview occurred while a band was setting up for a live performance later that night. I digitally edited and remastered the tape (using Audacity 1.3 beta open source software) getting rid of as much of the background noise as I thought I could. It may not be the most professional job, but I am still learning about live interviews)


I also interviewed Vance Stevens ; Vance is a Lecturer in Computing at Petroleum Institute in Abu Dhabi, "On the Internet" editor of the TESL-EJ (Electric Online Journal) , on the Editorial Board of Computer Assisted Language Learning An International Journal (CALL-Journal), Vice-President II, Executive Committee for November 2004 - October 2006 of APACALL (Asia-Pacific Association for CALL), EVOnline Liaison to the Distance Education Sub-committee of TESOL's Professional Development Committee, and Advisor to the PDC for 2005-2006. and semi-official leader of the Webheads In Action , an international consortium of professionals interested in education, technology and the internet. Vance takes a more collaborative approach in his consulting. He calls himself a coordinator and facilitator instead of consultant. However, I find that much of what he does, falls within the expanded meaning of consulting. Vance is a prolific writer and international speaker and a specialist in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) . He also conducts scuba diving classes , and is an avid spelunker .

Vance’s interview can be heard by clicking the arrow below.

Consultant Interview with Vance Stevens

MP3 File

Vance and I tried to communicate via Skype (VOIP) but had trouble establishing a trustworthy connection. We also tried the new Yahoo Messenger with Voice Beta (which has built in recording ability as well as Video play), but again, could not seem to get in sync with one another. Keep in mind that Vance was in Abu Dhabi, UAE and I was in Grand Prairie, Texas, USA. Eventually, I sent Vance the questions I wanted him to answer via collaborative capable Writely . However, Vance choice to podcast his answers, instead, using Audacity and Podomatic . Once the podcast were on the net, I copied them to my PC, used Audacity to add my voice asking the questions and the uploaded them to my account at Audioblog (now Hipcast) . From Audioblog, I transferred them to my “RebuildingIndianola” blog and from there to this document using “Writely” where I am posting all my coursework. This sound quality of this interview is far superior to the first but keep in mind that both Vance and I were using Logi-tech USB headsets to record our voices and were in quite place with no background noise.

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