The importance of subject matter experts

August 17, 2020//Dylan Taylor

Last Updated: October 28, 2020

Who is your go-to resource when you need some guidance? This is a question that I’ve been asking myself lately. I am talking about the individual you go to for that certain issue or topic, because you know THAT person is THE person to give you the best advice out of anyone you know. I am talking about a Subject Matter Expert. These individuals can oftentimes take the form of a mentor, a friend, or simply an acquaintance. You may even be someone else’s SME. And sadly, I don’t mean Mr. Smee from Peter Pan, Captain Hook’s right-hand man (surely there is some pun to being a “right-hand” man to Captain Hook…). Whoever that may be for you, I have found it is incredibly important to surround yourself with as many SMEs as you can so that you can continue to grow professionally or personally.

The importance of SMEs both in and out of a career

I grew up in a family full of educators. Practically every member of my immediate family, from my parents, aunts & uncles, cousins, and siblings are/were a teacher or coach. Because of this, the world of education ruled our life. I never had a break from some sort of teaching or coaching (even during Summer or holidays), all my teachers knew my family personally, and my father was even my high school principal. He would do the announcements over the PA system for the entire school every morning, and even used that to imply that I did not have any friends to sign my own yearbook (which I have spoken to many psychologists about). It felt like my family was full of SMEs when it came to the world of education.

So when I felt compelled to get my MBA and pursue a business career, I felt like the odd person out within my family. Luckily, I have been able to meet many SMEs that have helped me along with my career and allowed me to feel at home. I have been fortunate enough to have many incredible job opportunities, such as working in sales with the Houston Rockets, traveling the world working for the Disney Vacation Club, and now working at a place like SecureLink that has won awards for being one of the Top Places to Work several times.

While I was working at SecureLink, I was approached about becoming a high school teacher – a business teacher, nonetheless. I have a desire to teach and educate others (you could say it’s in my blood), so making the switch seemed like the right fit. At the exact same time, SecureLink was suddenly in need of a new Corporate Trainer. With my expressed interest in wanting to teach and educate others, I was now presented with the opportunity to stay at the company I loved so much while being able to coach and teach people in the process. It was all too good to be true! I reached out to many of the SMEs in my life to ask for wisdom and guidance on which route to take. After many discussions, it became very apparent that I couldn’t miss out on this great opportunity with SecureLink.

After accepting the Learning and Development Specialist position at SecureLink, I quickly realized that I had a lot to learn and develop in order to be successful. While I am still growing in many ways, I firmly believe it will be a career-long process of learning (I mean, “learning” is literally in my title). I have relied on many different Subject Matter Experts during my time in this role, and I am very thankful for each one of them!

Invest in products that are “SMEs” in their industry

The Balance Careers website describes an SME as an individual with a deep understanding of a particular job, process, department, function, technology, machine, material, or type of equipment. Here at SecureLink, we find great value in having the person with the highest knowledge or deepest understanding of a particular subject be the one who teaches on it. We make a conscious effort to ensure that an SME is the one who is facilitating the session when we have a new training. From our New Hire Orientation, to our monthly company-wide Knowledge Sharing Sessions, the first thing we ask is “Who is the SME for this topic?”, then we work with them to ensure they are the ones passing on the knowledge.

I would be remiss not to make a quick plug here to say that SecureLink truly feels that we are the SMEs when it comes to Vendor Privileged Access Management, or VPAM. Our customers, track record of success, and years in the industry have proven that we are experts when it comes to remote vendor access. And here’s the thing: you should always invest in the people, products, and services that are best in class because you’re always going to get the most out of it. You wouldn’t purchase a pair of flip flops to run a marathon, would you? So it doesn’t make sense to put your time, energy, or money into something that isn’t made for the job you’re trying to accomplish.

I will end you with this last thought. There seems to be a lot of confusion and doubt throughout our culture and society right now. It feels like there are more questions than there are answers. I have no idea what you may be going through, but in the chance it could help, I want to leave you with the same question that I began with. Who is your SME? Who can you be the SME for? Where are you needing guidance in life, right now? Reach out to that individual today and get that conversation started. To learn more about how SecureLink has been known as the SME in the secure remote access space since 2003, check out how we helped The Town of Gilbert, Arizona improve services for their citizens.

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