Over the last few years, we have identified two emerging needs within our designer training program: building a stronger bench of expert level design talent and proactively equipping our design staff to meet the challenges of presentation design with confidence, efficiency, and expertise. In response to these needs, the Executive Level Certification (ELC) program was born. ELC participants are led through a series of lessons and challenges, preparing them to take on any project that comes their way.
The ELC course was built to address not only design skills, but also to grow junior designers into full-fledged professionals. We realize that design skills are developed over time, but no school program really prepares designers to use presentation software like we do. Creating innovative and beautiful presentations is our specialty, and we love mentoring and developing designers’ skills in this medium.
"What you get out of this course will depend on what you put in." While there is a small group of mentors who run the ELC, the task of training and equipping our designers is shared across the whole team. From Creative Managers and Team Leaders to Mentors and Trainees, it is truly a group effort! Allow me to share a few of the highlights from our most recent ELC cohort.
Taylor participated in an SFP infographic initiative last year, but felt that his work had room to grow. He took his personal ELC project as an opportunity to build on that effort. He went outside his comfort zone by creating 3D models to drive the concept around Screen Printing 101. We could tell he really enjoyed creating something around a personal passion.
Priscila had participated in an externally run Executive Design Certification in the past, but coming off a sabbatical, wanted to reset and refresh her skills utilizing our newly formed internal program. Her personal project also really stood out. She did an informative slide set around the hidden gems of the Pacific Northwest, which showcased a solid stylized design and some simple and elegant animations.
David has been with SFP for over 10 years, having the most tenure out of all the participants this round. It was impressive to see him step in and take the initiative to sharpen his skills outside of his day-to-day work. He participated in some spirited peer review sessions and really stepped up his game on a specific re-concept of a timeline slide. I think this design has many practical applications in our client work.
Auri stood out in her ability to distill information into simple and easy to understand concepts. Often, speakers are so close to their content that they struggle to communicate it clearly to others outside their field. As designers, we advise our clients to explain their heavy subjects in the simplest terms, then use that simplified information to tell a compelling visual story. Our goal is to make the audience walk away understanding the key messages and concept, and Auri proved she could do this effectively while maintaining a great aesthetic.
Finally, Megan’s ELC work really displayed her ability to understand the goal of a slide. In her example, she took a complex idea of showing comparison of a solution with and without a partnership. The simple solution she employed of a linear step-by-step showcase helps the audience to easily follow the visual and the speaker. The minimalistic use of color and iconography also allows the message to be front and center without any distraction from over the top visuals. With a view into the structure of this slide set outside of show mode, one can see how easily editable the slides are; set up with each animation on its own slide. This is important for last minute onsite changes just before showtime.
Our ELC team this year was outstanding and I’m excited to see how they continue to push the boundaries of presentation design, beyond what most people believe PowerPoint can do.