When anyone in Darci LaRocque’s family got a gift that required assembly — a fish tank, a piece of electronics — she’d always be the one to put it together.

Her technical prowess showed up again when, as an adult, she worked at a bank and showed all her coworkers how to better use their computers’ software.

When the bank got bought out by a larger one, she took a buyout and went back to college to study computer systems management.


After graduation, LaRocque — who is 45 now and was in her 30s when she changed careers — got hired by Vancouver Coastal Health in its information technology department. She enjoyed implementing new hardware and software, but not leaving staff to learn things on their own.

“The training was scant, if you gave any at all.”

She helped the company set up its executives on BlackBerrys in 2001. But everyone had questions. “I was inundated every time I left my office with ‘How do you do this?’” recalls LaRocque. A year later, she booked a boardroom and invited the 400 users of BlackBerrys at the organization to a lunch-and-learn session.

She was shocked when 200 said they’d like to come.

LaRocque began running classes every two weeks. “They were full classes and everyone raved about it.”

In 2007, convinced that training on the mobile device was so badly in need elsewhere as well, LaRocque quit her job and started Swirl Solutions out of her home.

Through her contacts, LaRocque found businesses to hire her for two- or three-hour workshops on basic, advanced and money-saving BlackBerry skills training.

She spends her days teaching around Vancouver, but also travels to cities like Toronto and Chicago. Most of her sessions are offered through workplaces, but she’s doing her first open-to the-public course in Vancouver this April.

She’s also started offering webinars on her website. And when LaRocque is not teaching, she’s keeping up-to-date on all the latest in BlackBerry technology.

That means reading news on the web, checking out apps (with upwards of 800 of them, she admits she can’t learn them all), and reading manuals, which she actually enjoys.

Diane Peters once hawked magic pens at the Canadian National Exhibition. She’s now a writer and part-time journalism instructor.

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