I have an IT background. Web developer to be precise. I recently completed NoSQL certificate, and am comfortable with RDBMS queries.

I recently joined a finance team. My boss loves Excel. She wants me to take advanced Excel training. How do I convince her that, given my advanced technical background, I most likely will not benefit from advanced Excel training?

Note: I know Excel well. I also know how to edit XLSX files directly (as XML files), and pump queried data into pre-built templates. I'm not against Excel, but how do I show her that my DBA level skills are not enhanced by further Excel training?

  • 12
    What makes you think that the Excel training is anything to do with DBA skills? Perhaps your manager just wants you to learn advanced Excel so you can do better spreadsheets.
    – Simon B
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 20:24
  • 5
    Are you sure you wouldn't benefit from advanced excel training? I'm very experienced with building and maintaining complex excel macro spreadsheets / c# XLS add-ins etc and I'm probably only actually familiar with 30% of excel's functionality, based on what i've seen other people do in excel.
    – Jon Barker
    Commented Apr 21, 2018 at 23:08
  • 6
    I've never been on a training course where I didn't learn something. Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 2:13
  • 1
    Personally, I would never turn down any form of training when its on company time & dime.
    – James T
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 11:16

3 Answers 3


Your manager may see the following advantages to having you complete the Excel training:

  • Assurance that you know all the techniques she wants you to use.
  • Learning which techniques are appropriate for you to use in an Excel shop. Without the training, you may do things that would be difficult for your colleagues to continue and maintain. See your comment about editing XLSX files directly.
  • She may want you to think and talk the way most Excel users do for better communication with non-DBA colleagues, herself included.

If you think the training is not needed, suggest delaying it for a few weeks while you demonstrate that you can work the way she wants you to work without it.

  • 1
    the second point is the most important, IMHO. I can do all the things you need with excel macros, but if their house has standards that need to respect a certain style, then learning their style is mandatory for me before doing the things they need.
    – gazzz0x2z
    Commented Apr 22, 2018 at 18:13
  • The context of all my responsibilities will make the question too specific, but I do need to focus on what they need to maintain, and what are one-shot work. I came into the team in the midst of a multi-month system migration that went south. One of the more interesting things they want to do with Excel is to use it to compare discrepancies between two databases...
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 23, 2018 at 5:53

Thus far, very little of what you have said proves that you know Excel comprehensively.

But two things you could ask her are:

  1. What features of Excel does she think you could learn to use more?

  2. How was this Excel course chosen in the first place?

For instance, a course called "Advanced Excel for Analysts" could be very different than one called "Advanced Excel for Programmers". Perhaps, your boss may be willing for you to take a slightly different course if one is available.

There is also something to be said with the quality of the course itself. Is it rated well by the people who took it? Is that rating somewhat objective and maintained by a third party? What version of Excel is it covering vs. what version of Excel is your work currently using? And if your boss took the course already and took it with an excellent instructor, does she think the same instructor will be teaching it? or someone else?


You address this by understanding what it is your manager hopes you will get out of this training. And then addressing the concern.

However, I suspect, your boss is trying to prove you have an attitude problem, by eliminating lack of familiarity with the tool as a possible reason for your resistance to the solutions she suggests.

I suspect that any solution she suggests, you poke holes in why Excel is the wrong tool. I understand, I would not want a job as an Excel developer either. I am an Application Engineer not a Technical Analyst. But the bottom line is your boss probably wants you to develop Excel solutions. You keep telling her no by giving her reasons that it won't work, rather than say I dont want to do the job you have for me.

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