Ricky D. Spears
Technology Consultant, Instructor,
Writer, and Entrepreneur
PO Box 16694
Wilmington, NC 28408
Overview and Summary
I am a natural teacher and problem solver who believes that technology is all about improving the everyday lives of the people who use it while increasing the efficiency and profitability of their business.
When teaching, I seek to understand the unique business needs of my students and share my experiences and understanding of the product in a fun and engaging way that addresses those needs.
When solving problems, I have an uncommon ability to see both the big picture and the details at the same time. This allows me to draw upon my extensive knowledge and experience with a variety of technologies and industries to see connections and solutions that others often miss.
Spears Technologies, Inc., Wilmington, North Carolina
In October of 2013, I began working full-time as an independent SharePoint Consultant and SharePoint Instructor.
I originally formed Spears Technologies, Inc. in 2007 to consolidate three other sole proprietorships in which I was (and still am) involved:
RS Innovative, Thomasville, North Carolina
In 2002 I formed this company to sell a leather key fob that I had created to hold two AAA batteries. This was to be targeted towards users of Palm handhelds. It had taken me several months to find a company to manufacture these and by that time the market had moved towards offering rechargeable devices so the product was not incredibly successful. I’ve maintained this company as a channel for selling products that I develop, and for ad revenue that is generated on my blog and other web sites. A very successful application has been “The Ruler Game” which is a web based ruler reading training program that has taught tens of thousands of young people and adults to read a ruler. Many schools, including colleges and technical schools, now use this as part of their standard curriculum. Another popular application I developed is the web based speed reading application “Zap Reader”.
OP Loftbed Company, Thomasville, North Carolina
A friend and I started this company in 2000 as an online experiment and it quickly grew into the formation of a nationally recognized brand in loft beds and bunk beds. My engineer friend Charles Cranford had designed and built a loft bed for his sister’s dorm room. It was incredibly sturdy and unlike anything else available on the market. I was just getting started in web design and needed some eCommerce experience so I created a web site to sell the plans that Charles had designed. We experienced our first sale in April of 2000. The company grew quickly as customers requested new products. The company currently offers a variety of loft bed and bunk bed plans for all mattress sizes. Plans are delivered electronically as soon as the customer completes her order. We offer hardware kits, at about half the cost of what people would pay at their local hardware store. The OP Loftbed Preferred Manufacturers program has numerous people around the country who are licensed to build and sell the beds under the OP Loftbed name. The annual scholarship contest has attracted as many as 90,000 applicants in one season. In January of 2006 I took over the company entirely–with one employee who oversees the day-to-day operations of the company, while I handle the higher-level strategic planning and technical details.
Freelance Web Designer, Thomasville, North Carolina
SharePoint Solutions, Nashville, Tennessee
I was hired in November of 2006 in the position of Instructor, Courseware Author, and Solutions Architect. I authored the training manuals for a number of SharePoint classes including:
- SharePoint 2007 MOSS Core Features (coauthored with Microsoft MVP Asif Rehmani): a four-day introductory class that also taught SharePoint security; content management; taxonomy; customizing search; using Meeting Workspaces and integration with Outlook.
- SharePoint 2007 MOSS Advanced Features: a three-day class that introduced SharePoint branding; Web Content Management; Excel Services; My Sites and Personalization; Records Management; Forms Server; SharePoint Designer Workflows; integration with Groove, OneNote, and Access; and the Business Data Catalog.
- Mission: Automation—SharePoint Workflow and InfoPath: a 4-day intensive look at how to automate business processes with Microsoft Office InfoPath 2007 and workflows written with Microsoft Office SharePoint Designer 2007.
- SharePoint 2010 Upgrade and Planning (co-authored with Eric Eaton): a four-day class that teaches students the new features in SharePoint 2010 as well as how to plan for and upgrade their SharePoint 2007 environment.
- Introduction to SharePoint 2010 – Using SharePoint Server 2010: a four-day class for people just getting started using SharePoint 2010.
- Introduction to SharePoint 2010 for Server Administrators: a three-day class which teaches students how to install, configure, and administer a SharePoint 2010 server farm.
- Exploring SharePoint 2013 New Features: a two-day class for end users and power users who are familiar with SharePoint 2010 and want to upgrade their skills for use in SharePoint 2013 and Office 365.
I taught all the classes I wrote as well as other classes such as:
- Extreme Makeover—SharePoint Branding and Customization
- InfoPath 2010 and SharePoint Server 2010 No-Code Deep Dive
- Designing SharePoint Document Management and Records Management Systems in SharePoint 2010
- Business Intelligence Training: The Microsoft Self-Service BI Toolset (Power Pivot, Power View, and Report Builder) classes.
I taught SharePoint to over 2,000 students at some of the largest organizations in the world, including: AMD, BMW, Boeing, BP, Citigroup, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, U.S Army, U.S. Air Force, the FBI, and hundreds of others. I often traveled to Redmond, Washington to train Microsoft’s employees how to use Microsoft SharePoint. I have spoken at several SharePoint related conferences and written countless blog posts and detailed answers to questions on forums.
Throughout my career at SharePoint Solutions, when I wasn’t writing and teaching, I did consulting work, helping our customers solve business problems using the same skills I taught and wrote about.
From July of 2009 until June of 2013, I was the Managing Director of the Training Division. In this role, I managed the Training Division staff and made strategic management decisions concerning our overall objectives and strategies for the division.
Allegacy Federal Credit Union, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I was hired in July of 2000 in the position of Webmaster to maintain the credit union’s web site. I worked in the eServices department, which had been created to bridge the gap between the IT department and the Marketing department, so I developed both my technical and marketing skills. One of my early projects was designing and developing the credit union’s first intranet with several thousand pages. It quickly became an integral part of everyday operations for all departments. In 2006 I led the project to migrate all intranet content to the SharePoint Portal Server 2003 platform, which I customized to look and navigate like the previous intranet which I had built. This resulted in high end-user satisfaction and acceptance of the next generation intranet.
While in this position, I developed skills in ASP programming (VBScript) and SQL Server to improve many credit union processes. Some of the programming projects that I designed and developed include:
- A system to accept and manage online deposits. We were one of the first credit unions to offer such a service. At its inception the program brought in over $1 million in deposits each month. In addition to writing the computer programs to manage this, I also directed the team that developed the operational procedures.
- an internal referral management system
- a system to process journal voucher entries (which saved 20 man hours a week and a case of paper each month)
- a telephone directory that is easily maintainable and integrate appropriately with various areas in the original intranet
- a system for tracking overtime in the branches
- a system for tracking ‘secret shoppers’ visits to competitors and provided comparison reports
- a system for completing payroll deduction forms (which eliminated a previous 50% error rate in these forms)
- and various other smaller programming projects to automate daily processes throughout the organization.
I redesigned the credit union’s web site twice and continued to maintain it on a day-to-day basis. These designs were featured in several credit union publications and won several credit union industry design awards. I worked with outside vendors in implementing and integrating new online services such as chat, online mortgage and consumer loan applications, inter-institution funds transfer, account aggregation, eStatements, check ordering, and a number of other online products. I was responsible for working with our vendors to keep WebBanking and other systems secure. I continually worked to educate our members on Internet security, and I gave presentations outside the credit union on phishing and Internet security. My work in this area gave us some of the highest member adoption rates in the industry as compared to our peer credit unions.
I worked closely with our Marketing department to develop plans for marketing our online services to our members as well as in marketing our other products and services via the online channel. One of my most successful campaigns saw in increase of over 45% (over 4,500 members) in subscriptions to eStatements in just two months. I carefully tracked and reviewed all online activity continually experimented and tweaked our online marketing efforts.
MAC Equipment, Inc., High Point, North Carolina
I was originally hired to work in the shipping department, assembling and detailing air filtration and pneumatic conveying equipment. After three months I was placed over the Stockroom. Nine months later I returned to the shipping department as the Assistant Shipping Supervisor. I worked in this capacity for six months after which I was moved into the office and my final role as Production Support in which I served for over two years. In this role, I worked as a Purchasing Agent, Expeditor, Safety Coordinator and Engineering Clerk. I greatly increased the efficiency of many production tasks by incorporating spreadsheets, databases, Q-BASIC programs, Visual BASIC Programs, and even web pages to streamline many activities.
Awards and Certifications
Microsoft Certified Trainer
After teaching SharePoint professionally for nearly 7 years, including teaching many private classes to Microsoft employees on the Microsoft campus in Redmond, WA, I applied for this certification in 2013.
Microsoft Certified IT Professional, SharePoint Administrator 2010
To earn this certification, I passed both the Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Administrator exam (070-668) and Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Configuring exam (070-667).
Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007: Configuration
To earn this certification, I passed the Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Configuring exam (070-630).
Toastmasters: Competent Communicator; Advanced Communicator, Bronze; Competent Leader; and Advanced Leader, Bronze
I was active in the Chair City Toastmasters for four years where I served in several roles including Vice President of Education and eventually Club President. Toastmasters contributed greatly to improving my communication and leadership skills.
Boy Scouts of America: Eagle Scout
I was active in the Boy Scouts of America from 8th-grade through 12th grade. I served in a variety of leadership roles and earned the highest rank possible.
High Point Central High School, High point, North Carolina
Diploma, 1985. My major fields of study were math and science in a college preparatory curriculum.
DeVry Institute of Technology, Decatur, Georgia
Although I only completed one trimester of study in Computer Information Systems, I did have a 4.0 GPA. I left DeVry to transfer to another school. While I was between schools I worked at Liberty Hardware where I was given a management opportunity and decided to pursue a career in warehousing.
New Horizons Computer Learning Center, Greensboro, North Carolina
I took courses in Beginning Excel; Advanced Excel; Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Access; and Macromedia Flash.
Learning Tree, Washington, DC and Atlanta, Georgia
I took courses in Developing an Intranet, SQL Server t-SQL, and ASP.Net Programming.
Forsyth Tech Community College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
I took one course in Visual Basic 6.
SharePoint Solutions, Nashville, Tennessee
Before going to work here, I took classes in Applying SharePoint Portal Server 2003; Extreme Makeover – Portal Edition; and Upgrading to SharePoint 2007.
ExecuTrain, Lexington, Kentucky
I took a Presentation Skills class. This was the last thing I needed for my MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer).
I moved to the Wilmington, NC area in October, 2012 to return to the Carolina coast where I lived during part of my youth. I have a “child free” life that provides a lot of flexibility with my schedule and activities. I enjoy traveling, reading (mostly about business, psychology, economics, and technology), hiking, and canoeing/kayaking.