Celebrating 25 Years at GSC: Our Q&A with Training Manager John Setzer

What I enjoy most about training is teaching! Working with people, helping them understand a process, a technique, find a solution to a problem – that’s what I am all about.”

John has celebrated 25 years with GSC this May. In turn, we wanted to celebrate John. John has been a wonderful leader for our Training department and as a colleague within the company. Find a few serious (and fun) questions and answers below!

1. This May is your 25 year anniversary here at GSC. What has the journey felt like for you?

If I sit back and think about it, I’ve been at GSC half my life, but it doesn’t seem like I’ve been here that long in a lot of ways. Age has a way, I am finding, of changing how you see time, and for me at least, it seems like things that happened a long time ago are more immediate than they really are. While I’ve grown, GSC has grown around me, so it seems very natural and organic in such a way that I really have to think hard to realize how far we’ve all come in 25 years. Usually I get snapped to reality when I make a Star Wars reference and someone doesn’t get it or they tell me, “My parents love that movie! I never watched the original.”

2. As Training Product Manager, can you describe what you enjoy most about training?

I was hired to help run the training program from day one, so my job has always been about training. What I enjoy most about training is teaching! Working with people, helping them understand a process, a technique, find a solution to a problem – that’s what I am all about. The interaction I get to have with so many people and the relationships I build with my students is very rewarding.

3. What are your top 3 favorite memories?

It is tough to pick three, there are so many! But here are three that stand out for me right now:

  1. First day on the job, meeting Jim Sorci and developing a friendship with him. I could go on and on about Jim, but I’ll just say he taught me a lot. RIP Jim!
  2. A trip to Intergraph in Alabama with Dave and Jeff to learn about their “Jupiter Project” which was eventually released as SolidEdge. There are a lot of good stories to be told from that trip and in the end, it led us (I believe, at least in part) to make the choice to get onboard with SOLIDWORKS.
  3. Playing a Battlezone-like game on our SGI workstations afterhours with Jeff, Dave, and Mark Fisher. (Later it became MechWarrior on PCs when we were in that era, which leads to another story about the time the four of us were in Chicago for a conference and we decided to take a trip to a “virtual reality” center to play it; the walk back to our hotel got, let’s say, interesting.

4. You’ve worked in the industry a long time. Your GSC anniversary is almost as old as SOLIDWORKS itself!

How do you feel the community, the software, and the experience of SOLIDWORKS has grown and evolved?

My time with GSC actually pre-dates SOLIDWORKS. I can remember the day that they came to us to show their software over pizza in our old classroom. It was very exciting!

The software and general SOLIDWORKS experience has evolved in so many ways, really evolving with the general advances in technology and leading innovation in CAD and later, associated areas like FEA. To see how far we’ve come, take the SOLIDWORKS 95 Challenge that Jeff set up in our technology center or at a future E3D event!

The community has grown so large over the years. I remember when we were starting to see the community hit five figures; now it’s millions! It’s really everywhere and it’s so accessible these days. As we move more into the online space with the 3DX Platform, I see another exciting world of design possibilities. I’m anxious to see what it will all look like in another 25 years! Are we there yet?

5. What has it been like working at the same company for 25 years with your brother? I’m not sure other siblings would have made it this far!

I could make a number of jokes here, but honestly, it has been great. Not many people are lucky enough to be able to work with family every day. Sometimes we have to “turn off work” when we are out; my wife reminds me of that from time to time because we are both passionate about what we do and it can be easy to just keep going on and on when we’re at dinner or some other event, but I think we’ve been better about that. Having that instant connection when we collaborate is something that I think we bring uniquely to GSC; we are identical twins, after all! Dave likes to tell the story that he wanted to “clone” Jeff and viola! I came on board. That said, we each have our own perspectives and strengths that I think compliment each other.

6. I know you’ve counted once, but how many different desk stations have you had?

If I recall correctly, eight: two in our Lover’s Lane office, four in our Menomonee Falls office, and two in our current office. (My last workstation was the desk in our classroom — we were running out of space so we just made that my spot; it’s where I spend most of my time anyhow!)

7. What are you looking forward to in 2020-2021?

Honestly, I think right now it’s the same as the rest of the planet: a return to normalcy, or at least a new normal. Specifically, it’s being able to work with people in person and teach in a classroom again. Virtual is great, but nothing beats being in the physical presence of students and co-workers.

That said, I am also looking forward to taking what we are learning through this time and using those lessons as we move forward with more options for virtual working and learning. “Necessity is the mother of invention” — I heard that once or twice in my lifetime, and it’s true.

8. You’ve been heavily involved in our Online Training classes and Power Hours. What has the reception to these services been, in your opinion, by the public?

We’ve had amazing responses to all of our online initiatives. Our live online training has been doing well since we launched it, and the pivot we’ve made to all-online training was made much easier since we already had a successful program. The Power Hours have had a tremendous reception as well, with well over a thousand students in those sessions. The idea behind them: we want to help. They are free, they are specific, they are interactive, and they TEACH, not just inform. The messages and feedback and just overall thanks has been very rewarding for all of us.

9. If you had to recommend one video, one blog, or one upcoming online item to readers that you find the most helpful, which would you chose and tell them to check out?

The next one! There is always something next, and it’s important to always be learning and seeing how others may approach a topic or challenge. To call out a specific item, I’ll say the Next Power Hour or Webinar on our schedule.

Keep an eye out for future topics around Surfacing. I love teaching people how to use surfaces with their solid models, to de-mystify them and even take away the fear some people have when they hear the term, “surfacing.” I was that way once too, but good teachers showed me how to not be afraid, to embrace them, and learn the power you have when you learn how things actually work!

10. What’s one fun fact about yourself our fellow employees (and readers!) might not know?

I am a published author. I used to write game reviews and articles for several magazines and nearly took a different career route as an editor for a game publisher, but I decided to go the tech route and stay in teaching, although it’s not kids so much as adults! (I hold a teaching license for the state of Wisconsin).

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We strive to be more than just your technology provider. We work hard to become an extension of your team, always ready to assist when you need us the most. Since 1990, our technical experts have assisted companies like yours in implementing 3D tools for design, simulation, data management, electrical engineering, technical documentation, and 3D printing.

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