Paladin People – John Owczarzak
Perfection is in the details for John O
Paladin’s John Owczarzak isn’t a typical technical writer. While many of them come to their profession through tech-focused education and training, John is foremost a writer whose ability to turn technical jargon into easily understandable prose makes Paladin’s client Help Portal easy to read and understand.
A native of Corvallis, Oregon, John earned a bachelor’s degree in English from Western Oregon University and then returned home, where he earned a masters from Oregon State University.
John put those degrees to use as an English instructor at OSU before veering into the realm of technical communications. He became a technical writer for IBM’s International Technical Support Organization (ITSO), working on projects such as Java Beans and Lotus Notes. He worked for Ross Perot’s Electronic Data Systems (EDS) on projects such as the Texas Medicaid/Medicare systems. After Hewlett-Packard (HP) bought EDS, he worked on numerous HP accounts for the Department of Veterans Affairs VistA medical system.
After finding Paladin, John attacked the company’s knowledge base articles (KBAs) library with a vengeance. Over just a couple of years, he has transformed Paladin’s Help Portal by taking multiple KBAs on the same subject and consolidating them into one, coherent article. With this, the Articles by Topic launchpad on our Help Portal has shrunk considerably, and there is no longer fragmented material on topics.
He’s basically an expert at turning the technical development babble into easily understood instruction.
“My most important work is going through both the KBA library and the Features library and finding and archiving (with the stress on archiving – everything has been saved) outdated KBAs and features; therefore, organizing the clutter,” John explains. “In doing so, I make sure each and every KBA and feature is up-to-date and correct in the information and steps involved.”
- Works as a liaison between our technical service representatives (TSRs) and the Development team.
- Work closely with the Development team to craft and wordsmith message windows and other user interface elements.
- Writes marketing briefs and works closely with Marketing on what and when information can be disseminated to our clients.
- Updates the Features browser so that our clients get the latest on features and updates, but more importantly, lets them know of critical new features and updates.
- Provides training to the TSRs every two weeks.
- Provides English classes every other quarter.
“I have no trouble staying busy and supporting and improving Paladin’s communication and knowledge base,” he says.
Outside of work, John is a renaissance man of sorts. He lives with his wife, Caroline, and three hounds – Louie, Lorene and Albert – in Tumalo, Oregon in a home he pretty much built by himself. “Did everything but the plumbing.” So, he also has some serious carpentry skills. His main design for the house was to build the garage big enough to comfortably hold his Harley.
He is also an accomplished singer/songwriter whose blues- and rock-influenced music has drawn international attention and “a $50 royalty check,” he jokes. He plays guitar, drums, banjo, mandolin, some piano, and is an accomplished FedEx box player, which he used on several of his song tracks.