Never stop learning. Before I started working here, I started teaching myself the foundational material I would need to really learn to do my job my well. Learning is never ending. It’s a lifestyle. Especially in technology, everything is constantly changing and evolving, and so must we. Too many people have a fixed mindset. They believe that they know all they’ll ever know. We need to encourage both men and women to go through life with a growth mindset, where life-long learning is an expectation.
As a part of my series about “Lessons From Inspirational Women in STEM and Tech”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nikki Batchellor. Nikki is the Training Manager at Lucidworks. She leads two learning professionals in developing innovative trainings that optimize the search experience for Lucidworks customers. Through her leadership, the training team develops curricula for both in-person and online instruction and delivers those trainings to learners in a variety of roles. Her work drives the processes that connect industry executives to the search analytics that drive business operations. In previous roles, Nikki has worked within the media and health-and-wellness industries where she held positions including analysis, account management, and workforce development as well as training. Her educational background covers business administration, instructional design and psychology. She is also a published author in the field of behavioral neuroscience.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve worked in a variety of roles and industries. I started out in Human Resources and found that I really enjoyed the training and development aspects. I gradually took on more and more training projects until 2016 when I moved into a full-time training role.
After working predominantly on soft-skills training for three years, I knew I wanted to work with more technical skills and information. Finding a company like Lucidworks that’s doing something really forward thinking, something that challenges me, that’s exactly what I was looking for. When I interviewed with Guy Sperry (Director of Knowledge Services and my current boss), I realized this would be the most challenging role I’ve ever had and I was excited by the opportunity to really stretch myself.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began at your company?
One of the greatest things about working in training is becoming an expert in a wide range of topics. For example, I used to develop training for landscapers on how to operate forklifts safely, and for newspaper editors on how to become effective leaders without working their reporters to the bone.
Now at Lucidworks, I’m focused on explaining to our customers (and employees) how our products help to create more personalized experiences for users — whether that’s customer support staff, people shopping online, or employees working within their company’s intranet.
As soon as I started at Lucidworks, I took on a major project developing training content for Apache Solr — an open source technology that’s the foundation of our flagship product, Fusion, but something that I had no familiarity with before joining the company. We produced a 2-day training, with nine one-hour modules, for Activate — an international conference hosted by Lucidworks in Washington, D.C. We were able to completely redo the training in a way that really benefited the audience. Their feedback was incredibly positive and it was an awesome training challenge to tackle right out of the gate.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have made so many mistakes I’ve lost count. Probably selling my husband on the benefit of not commuting. It’s true, I haven’t driven to work once since I joined Lucidworks, but I’ve spent about 20% of my time “on the road,” so not exactly a stay-at-home job. As far as what I learned from that? I’d say find a partner who supports you no matter what you throw at them.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
One of the best things about Lucidworks is how dedicated employees, including senior executives, are to the company values. It’s very easy for a company to write some values and post them on a wall or in a handbook, but I feel like Lucidworks actually lives by those standards. When I interviewed I could tell immediately that company values (Honor People, Commit, Enjoy This, and more) are used to shape decision making. This is incredibly inspiring and motivates me and my team to do the same.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
Right now my team and I are revamping our training to create active learning experiences that foster critical thinking and enable learners to apply skills immediately. We’re also starting to create an eLearning Academy. Most of the content we’ve created up to this point has been focused on instructor-led training, so we’re implementing new ways to develop fully-interactive, self-paced courses. We believe the best way to honor our learners is to create engaging and dynamic training that meets their needs.
Ok super. Thank you for all that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Are you currently satisfied with the status quo regarding women in STEM? What specific changes do you think are needed to change the status quo?
I think it’s important to get women excited about STEM when they are young. Show them all the really cool stuff that can be done and the potential they have to make an impact. Neither of my parents went to college. For me, going to a community college, and then on to a state university for a science degree, that was huge. The idea that this would have ever been possible when I was 18 was so far-fetched. But here I am.
We need to make sure young girls and women know that these careers are open to them, because they just don’t have the exposure to professional women who have built careers in STEM industries.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women in STEM or Tech that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts? What would you suggest to address this?
Again, I go back to exposure. When my husband was growing up, his mother had a family friend that worked at Dupont. She was able to get him a day of job shadowing at one of their plants and he became a chemical engineer. Women just don’t have as many of those opportunities. It’s really important that women in STEM stay active in their communities to show young women that this will only stay a male-dominated industry for as long as we let it.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a woman in STEM or Tech. Can you explain what you mean?
That it’s too late to start. I am working in a field (instructional design) that I didn’t even know existed when I was in college. I started my career in tech when I was 34. It’s never too late to become a woman in STEM if you are willing to learn and evolve.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience as a Woman in STEM or Tech” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Never stop learning. Before I started working here, I started teaching myself the foundational material I would need to really learn to do my job my well. Learning is never ending. It’s a lifestyle. Especially in technology, everything is constantly changing and evolving, and so must we. Too many people have a fixed mindset. They believe that they know all they’ll ever know. We need to encourage both men and women to go through life with a growth mindset, where life-long learning is an expectation.
- Go after what you want. If there’s anything that I have it’s a lot of unearned confidence; you have to believe in yourself first. But also, be prepared. Once you decide what you want, you need to make a plan for how to get there.
- Find your internal motivation. I feel very loyal to Lucidworks and my colleagues and it motivates me to make Lucidworks training the best it can possibly be. As a manager, it’s important that I learn what motivates my teammates in order to get the most out of them, and not try to appeal to them in ways that won’t have a positive impact.
- Challenge yourself. I think we’ve all worked in a position before where we felt stagnant and uninspired, and that can make it difficult to stay motivated. Inspire yourself! Create your own opportunities to develop, add value to your organization, or guide others.
- Lead by example. I can only expect my team to work hard and meet challenging goals and deadlines if I am holding myself to the same standards and willing to give 100% on everything I do.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Trust your team. Let them know you believe in them by helping them set lofty (but achievable) goals, give them the resources they need, and let them deliver.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
I think the most important thing to establish, whether you have a large team or a lean team, is being practical about setting expectations and developing a battle rhythm. It’s not thrilling advice, but it’s great advice for keeping things running smoothly.
When you outline processes and have a clear understanding across the team about what’s expected, you avoid unnecessary friction that slows things down and creates a potentially challenging work environment. By establishing a battle rhythm, you can create a level of flow that gives your team predictability, and stops you from wasting time trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I started dating my husband a month before he joined the military. When we got married five years later, I knew what I was signing up for. While moving every few years was challenging for my career, it actually set a path for me to be here. By never demanding that I took the first job offered, nor the one that paid the most money, I was able to collect a unique series of experience, both professional and educational, that ultimately led me here. It’d be easy to say that my career was put on the back-burner for his, but ultimately, his stability allowed me to pursue something completely non-traditional.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
This job allows me to see my son off to school, and welcome him home in the afternoon. Knowing that he is taken care of frees me up to do volunteer work, or to spend the money I would have spent on day-care on other children in need.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Spread kindness. I think everyone would benefit from being shown a little more kindness and I try to do this daily. It’s one of the lessons we’re teaching our kindergarten son. I encourage him daily to do something nice for someone at school. If my only legacy in this life is life is raising a kind person, I’ll consider myself successful.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Train your mind to see the good in everything. Positivity is a choice.” It’s very important to stay optimistic. That doesn’t mean being happy with whatever happens, but knowing that you have the power to find the bright side and make the best of what happens to you.
I touched on this earlier but having a husband in the military, and consequently relocating often can often be stressful and hard to cope with; especially if you’re trying to have a fulfilling career. I’ve had to remind myself often, during what felt like like especially trying situations, that things would work out and everything happening is bringing me closer, in some way, to where I want to be.
We are very blessed that very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
Dr. Kamelia Aryafar, (Chief Algorithms Officer, EVP at Overstock.com) I saw her present the keynote talk at the Activate Search and AI conference this past September. She’s an inspiring person and a great role model for women in STEM.