TCUK16 Speaker Erin Vang – “Rockstars, not typists!” and “Where do tech comms managers come from?”


Erin Vang will be presenting twice at TCUK16: “Rockstars, not typists! Expanding your influence in tech organizations” and “Where do tech comms managers come from?”

Erin Vang

Rockstars, not typists! Expanding your influence in tech organizations

It’s an old story: tech writers get mistaken for the typing pool. Engineers aren’t sure why they should have to explain things to writers or review our drafts. When there’s a shortage of writers, people ask us why we can’t just get a couple student interns to help with formatting. But we know better! Let’s discuss how to bring up tech writers’ level of contribution and visibility, so our stakeholders finally start to recognize us as the rockstars who help make products better. We enable customer success, we help our collaborators who see a bigger picture, and we ultimately increase the production capacity of the whole team. We do all these things by using our tech comm superpowers for good. We are the secret, hidden rockstars in tech organizations, and it’s time to get the word out!

The only surprise in my talk is that there are no surprises. Any decent tech comms professional already has all the knowledge necessary to be recognized as a rockstar—but probably isn’t getting that message out. I pull together into one place the basics of knowing your value, delivering your value, and selling your value, challenging tech comms professionals to step outside their (usually shy, humble, introverted) comfort zone and get the attention they richly deserve.

Where do tech comms managers come from?

Where do technical communications managers come from? The stork doesn’t deliver them. Simply asking a top performing writer to take the job doesn’t usually work out very well, either. So let’s break it down. What does the job actually entail? What skills, talents, and interests do you need? How do you acquire these? How do you know when you’re doing the job well? What does leadership actually mean in concrete terms?

This session will be of interest to technical communications individual contributors interested in considering a management track, to general managers wanting to understand better the particulars of managing a technical communications functional group, and to current tech comms managers interested in widening the lens on a big job.

About Erin Vang

Erin Vang, PMP, has several decades of experience in commercial software documentation, quality assurance, project and program management, localization, content strategy, and people management, most recently as a senior manager of tech comms at Dolby Laboratories, and previously in the JMP division of SAS, at Abacus Concepts, and SYSTAT. In 2008 she formed the consultancy Global Pragmatica LLC®, offering services in facilitative leadership, localization, and custom statistical tool development.