The PowerPoint Origin Story


The development of the software that would later become PowerPoint began in 1984. The project was led by Robert Gaskins at a Silicon Valley startup called Forethought. The original product description was called “Presentation Graphics for Overhead Projection.” Development focused on the Mac platform.

However, the team needed additional money to further fund development. This became the first investment for Apple’s venture fund called the Strategic Investment Group. Then Apple CEO John Skully reportedly said “We see desktop presentation as potentially a bigger market for Apple than desktop publishing.”

The intention was to launch the product under the name Presenter. However, that name was not available. They considered “SlideMaker” and “OverheadMaker.” According to Gaskins, he randomly came up with the term “powerpoint” in the shower. While not anyone’s first choice, his colleague Glenn Hobin had coincidentally seen an airport sign with the words “POWER POINT”). Fate directed them to keep the name. It was changed to a single word with an upper-case P to be consistent with the Mac software naming convention.


PowerPoint was introduced in April 1987 exclusively for Mac computers. Concurrently, Microsoft had initiated an internal project to create presentation software. They contemplated an acquisition to speed up the process. When the idea of the Forethought purchase was brought to Bill Gates, he responded “No, no, no, no, no, that’s just a feature of Microsoft Word, just put it into Word.”

To his credit, Gates listened to the team. Based on an initial 10,000 unit sales success, Microsoft purchased the company three months later (July 1987) for $14M. This marked Microsoft’s first significant acquisition. Within two years, it was integrated into the Office suite (1989 for Mac, 1990 for Windows) and the rest is history.

Over the past few decades, PowerPoint’s market share has been as high as 95%. While Apple’s Keynote and Google Slides have chipped away at PowerPoint’s market dominance. it is believed more than 35 million PPT presentations are still made every day by an estimated 500 million users worldwide.

Microsoft Excel Can Help You Get A Job Offer

In today’s increasingly competitive business environment (made even more challenging due to COVID-19), securing a job offer has become extremely difficult. The pandemic has caused the loss of many jobs at all levels, further fueling competition. The key in a crowded field of interviewees is to differentiate yourself from others. One great way is to tout your skills, a critical factor for most employers. In many roles, one of the most important skillsets is the Microsoft Office Suite, specifically Microsoft Excel. Proficiency with this software can be critical to navigating the interview process and securing a job offer.

Questions they might ask

Interviewers could ask you about functionality in Excel. This might include experience using specific functions and/or formulas such as: how the $ symbols are used across data sets in Excel? What is VLOOKUP? What does a pivot table do? Be ready with short, accurate answers to help you stand out among most prospective employers.

A simple explanation for each is as follows. The $ symbol is used to lock absolute references in place, which is important for certain types of calculations. VLOOKUP is a function that allows you to search for specific data points across large sets to draw specific insights.  A pivot table is an essential tool to summarize, aggregate, reorganize, sort, group, count, average, or compute segments of data sourced from a much larger dataset. All of these topics are covered in MST’s Excel curriculum.


Excel knowledge, specifically around formulas, functions and terms is important to gaining a valuable advantage in the interview process. Whether you are learning about this material for the first time or have a base understanding and would benefit from a refresher, there are many resources at your disposal. You could easily watch videos on YouTube. However, most are taught by techies so they may not be easily understood by all viewers. Many learners fare better with live classes rather than pre-recorded lectures. It allows them to ask questions directly and interact in real time with a teacher. An effective teaching methodology and compelling instructor can make all the difference. Whatever path works for you, choose it sooner than later. It may just help you get the edge for that next job.

(Guest post by Jordan Barry, former MST intern)

Google Docs versus Microsoft Word: ‘Technical Incompatibilities’ Blamed For Improper Legal Filing

The American legal system runs on deadlines. That’s especially true if you’re representing the plaintiffs. “Emergency Complaint For Expedited Declaratory And Emergency Injunctive Relief” involved the United States Presidential election before a Federal District Court. For those keeping score, that’s two emergencies and one expedited in a single motion.

Plaintiffs employed a team of lawyers to prepare their responsive brief. During the course of preparation, plaintiff’s counsel encountered numerous technical incompatibilities in the software versions between Google Docs and Microsoft Word resulting in editing difficulties and text problems.

The Plaintiffs needed to request a one-hour extension to file their brief because they were having trouble getting Google Docs and Microsoft Word to play nicely together. Really?

The most startling thing was finding a lawyer who even acknowledged using Google Docs. For those in the legal community, Microsoft Word is not just a de facto standard; in many cases it’s the de jure standard as well. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California, for example, notes on its attorney info page that it is “a Microsoft Word-only court.”

An informal survey of attorneys showed 83% said they and their law firms use Microsoft Word exclusively. One lawyer said “I have never used Google Docs in law school or as an attorney. We always use Word. No court or firm for which I’ve worked uses Google Docs.”

Another said “I find Google Docs unusable for legal work, it’s too difficult to get the final formatting to work, especially if you’re working with other lawyers. Maybe I could fix this by investing hours understanding it, but, well, I’m not going to. So Word it is.”

Maybe they should have also turned on spell-check. It probably didn’t help their cause that the header, in BOLD CAPS at the top of the first page, misspelled the name of the District Court. Oops.

(This post is synopsized from the article posted on ZD Net Jan 3, 2021. Read the entire article here.)

Upskilling Your Team for Digital Transformation

“If we don’t start upskilling/reskilling now, we run the risk of a big part of society becoming irrelevant.”Antonis Christidis, Oliver Wyman

The current wave of digital transformation is creating a seismic wave that will have a huge impact on the future of work. On the one hand, automation is threatening the current workforce with redundancy as machines take over jobs. But at the same time, the rise of complex new technology such as machine learning and artificial intelligence calls for new skills that most current employees are not equipped with. In a recent study by IBM, AI and automation mean that up to 120 million workers will need to improve their digital skills or change role in the next three years.

The Covid-19 Impact

Right now, the Covid-19 crisis has created a need for business everywhere to adapt and focus on technology as the main business driver for critical functions like global payroll to help manage staff absences. Remote working skills and technology are being depended on like never before due to a global necessity.

These changes have combined to create a skills gap between employer requirements and current employee skill sets. In the UK, around 12 million people and 1 million small businesses aren’t equipped with sufficient digital skills. And the issue hasn’t gone unnoticed by bosses. According to PWC’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey, 79% of CEOs cite a lack of skilled workers as one of their top three worries. 46% plan to introduce upskilling to close the gap.

What are the benefits to your business of implementing an upskilling programme?

Business Continuity

This has become the most important benefit. Any businesses who have used their digital resources to test business continuity procedures and contingency plans are ahead of the curve. Other business are forced to upskill on the go. They have to make immediate investments in remote working technology and rely on the adaptability of their workforce. This gives rise to a hugely unexpected series of challenges brought about by a global pandemic.

Create Qualified Candidates

In the current job market, hiring managers are noticing a lack of qualified candidates. Statistics show that in the US, the number of software-related jobs is growing twice as fast as the number of general jobs. There is simply not the personnel to fill all the new roles.

Boost Employee Value

Even if there were a wealth of eligible candidates on the job market, it is more cost-effective to train existing employees in the required technical skills than to lay off redundant staff and rehire and onboard new talent. Plus, the newly upskilled employee becomes more valuable to the business. A recent CareerBuilder survey highlights than 60% of US employers’ vacancies stay open for 12 weeks or longer. This can cost businesses up to $800,000 a year.

Employee Engagement

It’s not just C-suite and hiring managers who are worrying about the employability of the current workforce. Employees themselves fear that their skills are becoming obsolete. They also have concerns about their ability to carry out their duties effectively during remote working measures. Many need reassurances during this time when they are clearly outside of their comfort zone.

The most common result amongst employees is a disengagement with the employer. 55% of employees would switch company if they felt their digital skills were losing relevance. 47% would choose instead to work for a company with better digital upskilling initiatives. Investing in upskilling boosts employee engagement.

How to upskill internal talent?

It’s about delivering the right opportunities at the right time via a holistic offering of videos, workshops, seminars, in-house, outsourced and online content. But more than that, establishing a culture of lifelong learning where upskilling is the norm.

Personalised Successful professional development is personal to the staff member and their role. Take into account the employee’s age, learning style, existing skills, current job and career path.

Upskilling has never been more important. Human resources managers must identify the most at-risk group of employees, investing in their upskilling first before moving group by group through the business.

(This post is synopsized from the article posted on Payslip on March 27, 2020. Read the entire article here.)

The Importance of Excel in Business

Microsoft Excel was released in 1985. Since then it has become one of the world’s most important workplace programs. All industries can benefit from employees with strong Excel knowledge. This software has become entrenched in business like few others. It is used for a range of processes from analyzing inventory and budgeting to organizing client lists. Here are a few areas it has become an indispensable asset:

Finance & Accounting

If you work in financial services or accounting, you know these areas use Excel every day. In the 1980s, financial analysts would spend weeks running advanced formulas. They would be calculated manually or by using IBM’s Lotus 1-2-3 or other programs. Today you can perform complex modeling in minutes with Excel.

Marketing & Product

While marketing and product professionals look to their finance teams for heavy lifting, spreadsheets are most often used for customer and sales targets. You can manage sales teams while planning marketing strategies. Pivot tables support quick customer and sales summary data.

Human Resources & Planning

Database systems like Oracle and SAP are used to manage payroll and employee information. Even then, that data is frequently exported into Excel. This supports trend identification and cost/benefit analysis. It also helps users better understand workforce design based on function and compensation.

Google has made material inroads into Microsoft Office’s workplace domination. However, Excel is not going anywhere. Businesses continue to use it as a primary tool for diverse functions and applications from IT projects to sales projections.

The job market is extremely challenging. There are far more job seekers than positions. A functional knowledge of Excel is vital for most every corporate professional today. Practical Excel skills can open the door to promotion and leadership opportunities. It’s a powerful tool in the hands of a savvy worker. He/she can then take advantage of everything this software has to offer. That’s a win-win strategy for everyone.

(This post is synopsized from the article posted on Investopedia on June 25, 2019. Read the entire article here.)

Why Learning Microsoft Excel is Important

In the world of digital competitiveness, skill development has become the ever-growing quality one must have to surpass any work. Whether growing professionals or students, possessing several soft skills will keep you one step ahead of everyone.

So, what is an important tool you must learn as a part of your computer literacy? Of course, learning Excel is the one to enhance your skill sets.

Microsoft Excel is one of the powerful spreadsheets and data analyzing programs with wide-ranging capabilities. From basic mathematical functions to complex statistical analyses, it is a popular tool in Business, Engineering, Accountancy, and many more industries.

Top reasons to learn Excel

Employers highly value candidates who are learning Excel and favor them in many ways. So, how it benefits? Let’s find out.

  • Increases your value in the job market.
  • The more you advance your Excel skills, the more efficiently you will be able to complete a variety of projects and tasks.
  • Many finance and Accountants-related positions rely on and can help to analyze financial modeling, and report documentation.
  • Engineers or Data Analysts can prepare valuable datasets for forecasting performances and making decisions.
  • Increases your salary for knowing such a universal computer program.

Bottom line

One of my recent observations revealed that most of the hiring companies or job positions ask for basic or advanced literacy in Excel. As such, many job-seeking individuals are often found competitively lagging behind and are not able to ace the interview rounds. Believe it or not, Excel is a proven skill that increases your chances of securing a job and makes you stand out of the crowd.

(Synopsized from the Aug 9, 2020 article published in Medium by Syeda Benazir Hossain. Read the full article here)

Companies Re-skill And Upskill Their Workers

TalentLMS surveyed 282 training and hiring managers, C-level executives, and decision-makers. The goal was to understand their re-skill and upskill strategies. They then surveyed 400 full-time employees in the US to learn about their employers’ training initiatives. During the lockdown, 43% of employers figured it was the perfect time to expand their teams’ skill sets with more courses and training material. 42% employees pursued training on their own. Read the entire report here. If your company is not providing the training you need, it’s your responsibility to get it. MST can be your partner.

Microsoft Office Is Still A Force

A 2018 article in Medium suggested there could be as many as 800 million active Excel users. There are also over 100 million Google Sheets users worldwide. According to Statista, Microsoft Office (42.6%) is now in a competitive race with Google’s G Suite (56.9%) for new users.

Office 365 is used as the main productivity software by over one million companies worldwide. Close to 600,000 companies in the U.S. use this software suite. It is true that many startups and companies with predominantly younger employees now utilize G Suite. However, it is clear Redmond still has a clear stranglehold on the enterprise space. So while Sheets does deliver good value, Excel remains the gold standard.

Upending The Workforce

 “This is the moment…when we should have a Marshall Plan for ourselves
— David Autor, labor economist, M.I.T.

A recent article in the NY Times stated “Economists, business leaders and labor experts have warned for years that the coming wave of automation and digital technology would upend the workforce, destroying some jobs while altering how and where work is done for nearly everyone…the rapid change is leading to mounting demands for training programs for millions of workers.” Read more here: (NY Times, July 13, 2020).

If a company uses Microsoft Office, that means the HR team likely incorporates an Excel skills assessment test for certain positions. This is done to help ensure potential employees will be successful. So if you’re looking for a promotion or a new job such as one of these, you’d be wise to brush up on your productivity skills.

  • Data Entry Specialist
  • Business Analyst
  • Operations Manager
  • Sales Coordinator
  • Training Analyst
  • Cost Estimator
  • Administrative Assistant
  • Project Manager
  • Customer Service Specialist
  • Accounting Clerk
  • HR Coordinator

Whether you use them now or use them later, you will use them. The sooner you learn them, the more facile you’ll become. Ultimately, if you’re not being up-skilled or reskilled by your company, the responsibility is on you.