Book Club–“Weapons of Math Destruction” by Cathy O’Neil

I’m finally doing it.

I’m going to keep up with Bryan Alexander’s book club.  This one should be easy–I started reading this book over the summer after hearing O’Neil speak at NYSCIO.  I got about halfway through before vacation and the ensuing chaos of the start of the semester overwhelmed me; luckily the timing of the book club is such that I should be able to carve out a little time to read it.  I believe this is a critically important book for everyone in IT, higher education, or anyone whose life is affected by data (i.e., everyone.)  Bryan did an excellent job summarizing the introduction and first chapter, so there’s little point in me reiterating it verbatim; I’ll just add a few of my personal impressions.

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Nostalgia

Feeling a little nostalgic as of late.  This is because of four things:

  1. I recently passed my one year anniversary at Baruch.  I didn’t really mark it at the time because I was on vacation.  But I’ve always thought it takes a calendar year to really experience and understand new things–especially in academia where the calendar gives us more structure than some other workplaces.  Facebook reminding me of my post on my last day working at Drew and my first day at Baruch also helped quite a bit, as well as LinkedIn reminding me (and several colleagues congratulating me there.)  One year to me is also when I have to stop calling myself “new”, with the commensurate set of expectations.
  2. Last night I went to a going away dinner for yet another of my work colleagues who have left Drew. There have been several who have left since the start of 2016, and the organization will need to rebuild.  I’m extremely happy for my colleagues who have left, and I am hopeful for those who remain, they are a great team and they will do well.  It was an interesting evening also because several other colleagues who left Drew were also there, and it was a group of people who hadn’t all been together in the same place in a long time, so that felt a bit nostalgic.
  3. I’m right now on a plane to Chicago, where my Frye class of 2006 is having a summit.  Frye was (still) the single most transformative event of my leadership journey, and I’m looking forward to getting together with many of my closest professional friends, and reflecting on the lessons Frye gave us.  It’s convenient that it happens right after my first year at a new job.
  4. It’s spring.  Rebirth and all that.

So I’m feeling a bit reflective and contemplative.  It’s a good time for me to take stock, and ready myself to continue to grow as an employee, professional, and leader.  I’m happy with what I’ve accomplished and yearning to do even more and do it better.  A good time to outfit my toolbox and practice my skills.

How do you refresh, reflect, and recharge?

On the Occasion of my Semianniversary

October 11, 2016 marked six months of working as AVP of IT and Deputy CIO at Baruch College.  Tl;dr:  It’s been the hardest I’ve ever worked, and overall it’s been incredibly rewarding.  And I’m just getting started.

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What I Learned in the Job Search

As I come up on my six month anniversary at my new job (surely that is worth blogging about, stay tuned) I’ve decided to dust off this post.  Parts of it date from nearly a year ago, as I was basically using it as a place to write down some of the random thoughts that would occur to me during my explorations into the employment market.   (I would always test myself by clicking “Save Draft” instead of “Publish” because I like living on the edge.)  I’ve cleaned it up because I’ve been sharing parts of it with people I know who are on their career paths, and figure it could be of use to others. Of course, this is written by someone who is on the higher education IT leadership track, but it should have some relevance for anyone in the job hunt.

A disclaimer:  I’m not looking for a new job at the moment.  Anything written here is from the perspective of when I was looking for a new job, which was before I had a new job.  I like my new job, a fact about which I’ll elaborate on in a few weeks.

 

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The next chapter

I’ve accepted the position of Assistant Vice President and Deputy Chief Information Officer at CUNY Baruch College.  I start in April.

I’ve just passed my 23rd anniversary of working at Drew. At this point working at Drew will likely be more than half of my professional career, which was one of the many reasons I think I realized I had to take on a new position,  so I could understand all the things you can only understand if you have worked in multiple places.

My new position  will provide me a higher profile role, a larger staff to manage, a place at the table making institution-wide decisions, a chance to be an important part of a larger organization (not just Baruch but the entire CUNY system).  I’m already digging into some of the new challenges and opportunities I will have.  Sure, the commute will be a little more intense, but I’m hoping my “train time” will be productive–whether it’s a little extra sleep, a chance to do work, or even time spent recreationally on the computer so I can focus on my home life when I do get home.   And I get a built in hour or so of walking every day, which means even on days I don’t get to the gym or out for a run (and I’ll be able to run along the East River Greenway)  I’ll still be getting my daily exercise.

Of course, I will miss my friends and colleagues at Drew very much.  However, as an alumnus of the institution, I will be around.  I’m also still a 10-minute drive away, so hopefully I’ll get to visit frequently enough.  In fact, it will be great to be connected to Drew “just” as an alumnus instead of “an alumnus and administrator.”

I’m looking forward to my new adventure.  I’m going to learn so much and grow a lot as a person.  Most importantly, I think I’m really going to be able to make a difference at my new institution.

Here’s to the future!

 

 

Why You Need More Than One Mentor

Mentors.

You’ll hear people talk about them a lot.  People should be mentors.  People should have mentors.  People should both have and be a mentor.

I not only have a mentor, I have several people who I think of as mentors.  Some are people I’ve worked with in one fashion or another.  Some are colleagues I’ve known for a long time. Some are in the same phase of their career that I am; some are one or two steps ahead of me.  All are people whose opinions I respect and value; and have been more than gracious with their time.  In some cases, I’d like to think we’ve mentored each other.  While I have a lot of professional relationships, not all of those people are ones I consider mentors.  My mentors have given me professional advice, not just on a technical topic, but on the nuances of leadership.  They’ve allowed me to speak confidentially.   They’ve helped keep my career on track.

If I only had one mentor, I’d be missing out on a world of benefit.  Here’s some reasons why you want to have many mentors:

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On Complexity, and Why We Don’t get Conference (and Classroom) A/V Right

I’m inspired today by an offhand comment by the famous (in our circles) Bryan Alexander, who is a frequent keynote and guest speaker at conferences all over the world, and has a lot of stunning and evocative things to say about not just higher education information technology, but the state and future of higher education in general.  If you’re not familiar with his work go check out his blogs and articles.  Even if you don’t agree with them he will get your brain moving.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that an offhand comment on his Facebook got me thinking:

“I’m fascinated by how conference A/V is still flawed and failure-prone, everywhere.

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