From Front Desk to Back Office to Center Spotlight: The Making of a GPUG All Star

It turns out that the version of this story that I have been retelling for years is slightly embellished.

Even so, it is still a great story.

I met Amber Bell in 1999 at a San Diego based company that sold a product then known as Great Plains software. I worked in sales; she worked at the front desk.

At one point the company owners were negotiating a buyout. We had no idea what was going on, we just knew there was absolutely no work to do, and nobody seemed to care. So, Amber and I would spend hours devising random trivia questions and then racing to see who could find the answers first. Amber always won. She has mad Google skills. I guess that should have been an indication of her later stardom.

In my version of her story, Amber studied the Great Plains manuals on her own time, secretly took and passed the certification exam (with flying colors) and then told our boss she wanted a job as a consultant.

In fact, Amber had taken a pay cut to work as a receptionist at this company, feeling that it would be a good foot in the door into computer programming. The boss knew of her interest and hired a Great Plains trainer to come to the office to train her. (This trainer was Leslie Vail, whom we all know well in GPUG circles. Read Leslie’s backstory. ) Then she passed the exam and they gave her a promotion.

Similar story, although I like my version better.

Once she was a billable consultant, I distinctly remember her being sent back to the office in tears by a client who said, “She’s the receptionist, I’m not paying the receptionist to work on my GP system.” Little did he know that other “legit” consultants with fancy degrees had not even been able to pass the GP certification exam.

But Amber didn’t give up. Her level of humility and perseverance have always been an inspiration to me.

After a few years apart, Amber and I worked together again at a second Microsoft Dynamics GP partner in Connecticut. This company was also acquired. (This happened quickly and we were not given the luxury of practicing our internet research skills.)

We worked together for the next 10 years – me in marketing, and she in consulting. I saw her learn new skills, develop relationships with partners, solve problems for clients and generally just fuel her passion for Microsoft Dynamics GP. We called her the “GP Cheerleader”.

Because she likes to make people laugh, I think sometimes people wrongly assume that Amber doesn’t take things seriously. But in fact, she is one of the most diligent people I have ever met.

And she is certainly a character; I’ve seen her make her grocery list in Microsoft Excel and track her schedule and outfit choices in color coded worksheets, with clip art, just for fun! If you ever go on a trip with her every detail will be researched with budgets calculated to the nearest decimal point. She likes to know her options for “planned spontaneity”. It’s highly entertaining.

In January 2016, after much deliberation, Amber made the bold leap to leave her secure job and start her own business, Training Dynamo. In true Amber style, she laid a solid foundation so that her new company had strong branding and big plans for the future, even before she had her first client. I love the tagline, “Ridding the World of Boring, Expensive and Ineffective Microsoft Dynamics GP Training.”

Several influential people in our community saw her potential and took an interest in her success. They helped her build her confidence and make the right connections. 

And then it was like watching a coiled spring shoot through the air. In less than a year she had built a name for herself. She started by volunteering to present sessions at GPUG Amplify. But she had a specific goal in mind that had started a while back.

I remember sitting with Amber in 2010 at Convergence in Atlanta, at Mark Polino’s 50 tips session, and one of our GP clients told Amber she should be up on the stage presenting that session.

That idea stuck. And then it came true.

At GPUG Summit 2016 Mark Polino officially passed the torch and Amber took over his tips session with her “GP Superhero” theme. Her session was literally filled beyond capacity, with people sitting on the floor in the aisles and spilling out the door. Every one of her sessions at Summit 2016 was packed. She is the only person I’ve ever seen who can turn accounting software training into a standup comedy routine. And the audience loves it.

On the last day of Summit 2016, Amber Bell took the spotlight as a winner of the GPUG All Star Awards. That's like an Academy Award, for those of you not in our niche little industry. She will forever be known as All Star Winner Amber Bell. 

I honestly don’t think there could have been anyone else who would have been as excited to win this award. This was a personal victory for her and validated all of her hard work over the past 17 years. I am so happy that I was there to see it.

Everyone loves a “rags to riches”, “pulled themselves up by the bootstraps”, “American Dream” type story. Amber proves that with enough hard work, goals and personality anyone can be an All Star.

I am honored to have watched her journey, from front desk to back office to center stage spotlight.  

P.S. Since posting this article Amber Bell has published TWO books. Use code "ERPBLOG" and get a 25% discount. Get details at: Disclaimer: If you buy a book she said she would buy me a drink...which is good because I like those snobby expensive craft cocktails. So there is a "business relationship".

 By Anya Ciecierski, Collaboration Works Marketing

Follow me on Twitter: @AnyaCWMktg