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From Hairdressing to Supporting Solder Training: An Unexpected Career Journey into EPTAC

Posted on 2st June, 2023 by EPTAC

In this interview, Kris Ossenfort, EPTAC Training Support Coordinator, describes her unexpected journey from hairdressing to managing solder training. She talks about her individual role, team dynamics, achievements, and challenges, notably the shift to online classes and the hurdles presented by the pandemic. The interview reveals EPTAC's emphasis on teamwork, efficiency, and customer support, offering valuable insights for industry veterans and newcomers alike. Kris's experiences underscore EPTAC's commitment to adaptability, innovation, and high-quality instruction, even in the face of unprecedented circumstances.



Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you became part of the EPTAC team?

In my 'other' career as a hairdresser, I met Mark   Pilkington, former President of EPTAC, about 35 years ago, just after he moved to New Hampshire and started a new business called EPTAC. After getting to know him and  while cutting his hair each month, he would tell me about the business and its growth. The one thing he always said was he had the greatest team working at EPTAC. Many years later he offered me a job to help with their marketing and I accepted. I began working at EPTAC in December of 2014, and I must agree with him—the team here is outstanding. I'm amazed at the volume of business our compact office staff handles on a weekly and monthly basis, and at how we collaborate as a team, supporting each other and stepping in where needed. Our group may be small, but we are indeed mighty!


Our group may be small, but we are indeed mighty!


How would you describe your personal approach to work and your role within EPTAC?

I am a huge fan of EPTAC's motto—'Work smarter, not harder.' We certainly work hard here, but we strive to maximize efficiency. We have many great minds who all have different talents and together we each take our part and run with it. 
In my role, I manage the IPC classes for all of our instructors. This role requires planning a month or two in advance to prepare the classes, and ensuring that the attendees who attend these classes are as well-prepared as possible. I provide support for each instructor should there be an issue related to IPC’s portal or the attendees enrollment during a class. I often reach out to IPC  on their behalf, allowing them to focus on the class itself and deliver the best possible instruction to each attendee.


I am a huge fan of EPTAC's motto—'Work smarter, not harder.'


What are some of the key achievements or milestones you have reached during your time here?

Not long after I joined EPTAC, IPC significantly modified the testing process of their certification programs. This change led to most classes transitioning to a paperless, online testing format. They also introduced the IPC Portal which is a central platform for all class-related activities which were previously done on paper and emailed to IPC. Understandably, this was a massive task for us. It quickly became clear to us, we needed a focal person to oversee this process. Since I was the new employee, I was given the task of learning the new system, and the originally planned marketing responsibilities had to take a back seat. After the first few weeks, we realized this was a full-time job! I haven't a single day on marketing in the past eight years. Despite often feeling overwhelmed with this new process, I take pride in how we have evolved it into an effective working system.

What challenges have you faced in your role, and how did you overcome them?

Mastering the new IPC system and policies concerning class preparation, enrollment, grading, etc., proved to be quite daunting. Not only did we need to understand the system ourselves, but we also needed to educate our customers about it. As with any new technology, we encountered and addressed various bugs and issues. Since this was a novel system for everyone, we had to train all of our instructors to use it and provide assistance to the students, as well as the companies with which we work.

Can you share an example of a time when you had to step out of your comfort zone to accomplish a task or goal?

With the launch of the new IPC Portal, our instructors often required assistance to demonstrate to attendees how to create their own classes, carry that knowledge back to their companies, and teach others. A lot of our EPTAC instructors sought my assistance in this educational process, leading me to step into the classes and walk them through the instructions and the process of creating the classes. Speaking in front of a classroom was new to me, but given my comprehensive understanding of the system, I was confident in my ability to assist our customers.

How do you approach teamwork and collaboration within the company?

Right from the start, Brenda has consistently emphasized the importance of everyone having at least a basic understanding of all the tasks performed at EPTAC. While we each have our specific roles, we are able to fill in for each other and provide mutual support at any given time. I believe in always being willing to contribute to a project, even if it falls outside my typical area of expertise. Our team embodies an 'all hands on deck' mentality, which contributes to the success of every class.


Our team embodies an 'all hands on deck' mentality, which contributes to the success of every class.


How do you prioritize your tasks and manage your time effectively to ensure success in your role?

My responsibilities are primarily dictated by a strict schedule and calendar. I need to stay focused on daily adjustments to current classes, while also keeping an eye on those planned for the next one or two months. Maintaining open communication with the rest of the office staff, instructors, and customers is of paramount importance. I have established a system that ensures the accuracy of details and the completion of necessary tasks, thus preparing classes for both attendees and instructors.

Are there any specific goals or aspirations you have for your future within the company?

I truly enjoy working with our instructors and supporting our customers. I initially aspired to be a teacher, so this role has given me a wonderful opportunity to interact with attendees and witness their success. Sometimes, attendees come into my office struggling to log into the IPC Portal. I reassure them that we'll resolve the issue and they'll be able to take their exams. Easing their stress, especially right before their exams, gives me a sense of having helped them. I thoroughly enjoy working as part of a team and diving into projects. With the rapid pace of today's technology, I believe I can be a valuable asset in addressing emerging challenges.

Can you share a situation where you had to navigate a major change or transition within the company, and how you adapted to it?

I believe we can all agree that the Covid-19 pandemic drastically altered the workplace. All of our instruction, previously done in person and hands-on, became unfeasible overnight. We also had attendees and instructors who travelled for every class and that was also no longer an option. We had to come up with a solution and fast. The great minds at EPTAC were hard at work coming up with a plan and the office team was anxiously awaiting the grand plan. We eagerly embraced our new directives. There was lots of brainstorming and questions trying to figure out how each of us would be impacted. I recall Zoom meetings where we discussed ideas from our homes, considering the potential impact of each decision. Then, the concept of 'Remote Proctor' classes   was introduced, requiring us to collaborate with our customers again to help them navigate this new system. Despite being daunting and overwhelming, we tackled it together as a team, as is the EPTAC way. Now, three years later, we are more robust, resilient, and confident in our accomplishments. I am grateful to collaborate with a group of people dedicated to both our collective success and the achievement of each attendee we have the opportunity to guide.

Could you describe your overall experience working at EPTAC and highlight the aspects of the company's approach to clients and the team that you appreciate most?

The 'family first' principle is important to me, and I appreciate that it's embraced at EPTAC. From my perspective, our customer service is unrivaled. We seize every opportunity to help ensure the success of each attendee.


From my perspective, our customer service is unrivaled.


In your opinion, what sets EPTAC apart from other courses and training providers, and how has your experience at EPTAC influenced your personal growth and development?

Observing EPTAC during the pandemic, it was clear how we prioritized exceptional customer care while ensuring safety and adhering to all protocols. This dedication has placed us at the top of our field. Our instructors took on additional responsibilities, as did our office staff, yet we maintained the exceptional customer service for which we are known. If we could navigate and adapt to such circumstances, I felt confident that I could exhibit the same resilience in my job and my personal life. 


Flexibility and perseverance became the keystones for our success.



EPTAC is an internationally recognized leader in solder training and IPC certification, providing professionals with the skills to accelerate their careers and businesses and the talent to succeed. For over 35 years, EPTAC has been helping corporations increase quality standards, improve productivity, and maximize profits. With 24 locations in North America, EPTAC continues to expand its offerings and exceptional instructional staff to provide easy access to knowledge and skill-based programs when and where the industry demands it. Access our scheduled programs through our website or schedule your own corporate on-site training. For more information, call 800.643.7822 or contact us.

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