Lara Mellor on Microsoft training and the joy of proficiency
Lara Mellor runs Lara Mellor Training and Consultancy, based in Warkworth, and teaches adults how to become confident and proficient in the suite of Microsoft software.
In Partnership with Lara Mellor Training and Consultancy
Hi Lara, tell us a little more about your business
In a nutshell, I’m an ex-secondary school maths teacher who discovered a passion for Excel and other Microsoft software packages when Excel was incorporated as part of the normal weekly maths lessons. I’ve always loved science, technology and maths so teaching people how to use software suits my background down to the ground.
I made the move to teaching adults in 1998 when I left secondary education and set up on my own in 2000 down in Windsor, which is where I lived at the time. I moved up to Warkworth in 2016 with my husband and two dogs and have run my training and consultancy business from that base ever since.
How does your company help its clients?
I provide training in all the programmes across the Microsoft suite. That covers Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Office 365, Outlook, Power BI – you name a piece of Microsoft software and I deliver training in it.
Pre COVID-19 I delivered my training from my own premises in Warkworth and at the premises of my clients across the North East. Obviously, that isn’t possible at the moment, so I put all of my training online within one week of lockdown being announced at the end of March. It’s meant a steep learning curve, but my courses are now all online and they’ve been a huge success.
What you have been asked for most since the lockdown began?
Microsoft Teams has been the most popular request, hands down. It’s part of the Microsoft 365 suite (formerly Office) and has enabled so many individuals to work from home but still remain part of a team.
With most businesses having to work from home overnight and many employees not being familiar with online meeting software, I have been able to show them particularly how the meeting side of the software works and give them the confidence that this would be a perfect platform to communicate with both colleagues and clients going forward.
I’ve spent time with many people who have had to train their colleagues, and even the training department of one large company, helping them to understand as a trainer how to run a successful session. We’ve covered things to be aware of and how to deal with issues as they arise. Thankfully, my experience of running sessions myself has meant I’m in a really good place to do this.
Aside from that, I’ve been asked for a lot of training on Microsoft 365 including online versions of the Microsoft suite, One Drive and Teams. Microsoft Excel is always popular, and I love using it, given my mathematical background. Power BI Desktop is a business intelligence software producing dynamic dashboards to summarise data for clients and key members of staff in-house (again, right up my street).
How much do you charge for training?
I have an online-only offer of a two-hour session for £200 or regular half-day or full-day courses which can be delivered online or on-site at £300 or £450 respectively (when it is safe to do so). All sessions can be tailored to the client’s exact needs to ensure they learn what they need to, when they need it, and can be run for up to eight people.
What are the FAQs you get all the time?
Can you install and set up my Microsoft 365 software?
Why is it that everyone thinks that if you are involved with IT in any form you know everything about everything? I am a specialist Microsoft Trainer and that is my niche. It’s only a small proportion of IT as a whole but means I can deliver what I deliver consistently well and keep up to date with any changes. This enables me to deliver a great service for my clients.
How are you finding training online?
I am loving training online and see this as an option to continue offering going forward. It works particularly well for courses with a shorter duration. I still see some sessions being run face to face but where delegates are travelling in from various locations it can be a huge time saver, with a high-quality course still being delivered. Businesses have been forced down this route but now that many are more comfortable with and understand the benefits of online meetings, it’s a far more viable option.
What is your favourite product to train?
I enjoy the variety of training most of the Microsoft products but anything that is mathematical or logical is where my background and passion is. I have a soft spot for Microsoft Excel as that is where it all began. Give me a complicated calculation to play around with and you will make me very happy!
How can people contact you to book training?
“Lara helped me get set up on Microsoft Teams so that I could start delivering online training sessions to clients. She took the time to explain to me via a video call how to check the level of account that I had, and was able to point me in the right direction so that I could fix the issue and get set up to teach.”
“Her advice was easy to understand, and she knew exactly where the issue was. I’m very grateful to her for the help.” Scott G
“Lara helped me to compare and contrast different online meeting platforms as I am looking to deliver my business online due to the current lockdown. Lara talked me through the different benefits of different platforms. Lara also shared her experience of some of the practical considerations when working remotely. As a result, I now have a clearer idea of what I need to do going forward. I can highly recommend Lara for her knowledge and clear communication skills.” Mike J
“My company have just spent a day training with Lara. She provided bespoke training on Mail Merge, Excel and Visio. Lara was very knowledgeable on all aspects of Microsoft that we worked with her on. Her training fitted the exact needs of SafeSol. Lara was easy and fun to work with.” Vicki W