We all know that Microsoft Excel is the most accessible spreadsheet program available for either Windows or Mac; a market leader with a proven track record and ever growing reputation. We all know how straightforward it is to utilise its workbooks, how intuitive is its interface and how easy it is to implement features such as pivot tables and custom charts.

But even the most tech savvy amongst us would probably stop short of claiming that they know absolutely everything about this beloved computing institution. And yet, in a story that really emphasises the benefits of top quality training, it appears that a 15 year old student from Cambridgeshire really does know just about all that there is to know about Microsoft Excel. Just to let you know, we regularly run Excel courses intermediate.

Last summer Rebecca Rickwood from Sawtry entered a competition to find the world's best user of the program. Over 200,000 people from 57 countries applied and Rebecca eventually won through, defeating 78 other competitors in the final round.

This is a pretty incredible feat for anybody but when you consider that Rebecca was a 15 year old girl who had only started taking an interest in IT recently the achievement is even more impressive. Her school, Sawtry Community College, ran a series of extra-curricular classes in various Microsoft programs the exams for which secured her automatic entry into the initial nationwide competition. After scoring an immaculate 1,000 out of 1,000 Rebecca was then entered into the global version where she also attained a perfect score.

Rebecca's teacher for these inspiring classes was Pam Kitchen and in all interviews Rebecca has been quick to highlight the fantastic job that Mrs Kitchen did, both in providing full and authoritative teaching and also in preparing Rebecca for her fantastic performance in the competition.

Now granted, Rebecca Rickwood is clearly an exceptionally bright teenager and in the majority of cases even the best training imaginable will not ensure becoming the most proficient user of a given program that the world has ever seen. But Rebecca's story is pertinent in that it demonstrates a clear connection between high quality training and tangible progress.

All too often professionals will be convinced that they can 'pick up' all that they need to know as they go along. In reality very few non-specialists will be good enough to do this. It takes the objective educational skills and expert knowledge of a professional trainer to be able to fully elicit the maximum benefits that a Microsoft program can bestow.

Rebecca Rickwood was not a fifty year old businesswoman with decades of experience of information technology and a long history of creating charts and reports for corporate purposes. She was a 15 year old girl and relative newcomer to computing. A curious mind and a willingness to question and investigate combined with a tutor with excellent knowledge of the subject and an ability to make the material both informative and interesting culminated in an achievement that nobody would have thought possible a few short months beforehand. If that is not a great advertisement for the benefits of training then I do not know what is!