The first month

I’ve now been an Assistant Vice President and Deputy CIO for just over a month. In some ways, it feels like no time has passed at all.  In other ways, it feels like it’s been forever.

I’m having a great time.  I really love the place and my new staff.  People have all been so warm and welcoming.  The energy of the campus is great.  I’ve been incredibly busy–mostly just learning the ropes, but I’ve been able to make some technical contributions and have begun to lay out my vision for how I want our organization to change angd grow.

Of course, there are already some challenges.  I have several positions to fill.   I’m looking forward to the opportunities to shape my team and further develop my vision, even though there will be some short-term pain.  It’s easy to make people happy when you’re still new, still learning the ropes, and people aren’t expecting miracles from you just yet.  They will soon enough, and I will have to parlay that good will into effective action, and I want to do it before people expect me to.

Most importantly, I feel like I can do this job.  It will be hard, it will test me in ways I haven’t been in a long time, if ever; but I will rely on my team, my network and myself, and we will succeed.  It’s been a great adventure so far, and will, hopefully, keep getting better.

I wish I was getting a little more sleep.  At the same time, I’m sleeping better in general, so that is helping a lot  I will also learn to sleep on the train better and that will help.  Home life is also a bit disrupted, but again that should settle down as we figure out what our daily rhythms need to be to make this work.

In many ways, the biggest change is my commute changing from a 10-15 minute drive to up to an hour and a half each way (although as little as 70 minutes if I time it right.)  The bulk is a 40-50 minute train ride, and lately I’ve been doing the Citi Bike, which is awesome and one of the greatest inventions ever.   On my way to work, I use a folding commuter bike I won a while ago but never really used, although I’m just locking it up at the station, not taking it on the train, because that would take extra time. Here’s some of the things you learn as an NYC train commuter:

  • Where you sit on the train matters.  Near the front on my way in means I’m closest to the 7th Ave entrance, which is the one I want if I’m walking.  If I’m taking the Citi Bike, I want to be near 8th Avenue, so I can walk to the Citi Bike Valet and get a bike On the way home, it depends on where I’ve parked, or if I walked to the station.
  • It’s nearly a wash to spend the 6 or so minutes walking in the opposite direction to my work to the Citi Bike Valet, getting a bike, going down 9th Avenue, across 30th Street, down Broadway, across 26th, and down Lexington to Baruch (a 14 minute ride) instead of walking 20-22 minutes.  On the way back though, it’s about an 8-10 minute ride, and I can drop the bike at 31st and 7th–if there’s room, which there wasn’t today, so I still have to budget an extra 5 minutes or so.
  • I’m really happy NJ Transit built the 31st St. and 7th Ave. entrance in 2009.
  •  If I’m walking across a one-way street and the traffic is stopped on the other side of the intersection from where I am, I have a few extra seconds to cross than I would otherwise.  
  • While you’d think it would be fastest to walk down Broadway since it cuts diagonally across my route, it’s far more important to keep moving, so to let the crosswalk signals to determine your direction.
  • The metered spaces are all taken before 7am on Tuesdays at my train station.  Most other days have been fine.
  • I can make my walk in just a suit jacket and be comfortable down to about 45 degrees.   Above 70 or so I’m most comfortable taking it off.
  • Citi Bikes are designed well for riding on in a suit.  My folding commuter bike is also.  Low standover heights, comfortable seats, and chain guards make a difference.
  • I’m really happy I bought a few pairs of waterproof dress shoes.
  • My Timbuk2 bag is even more awesome as a train commuting/walking/cycling bag.  Usually, I don’t have much in it, but if I need to have a lot in it, it simply takes it and lets me carry my cargo comfortably.  It fits perfectly in the cargo basket on the Citi Bike.

One last thing:  Sometimes, when I’m walking around the City, or even my building, I have an internal dialogue in my head.  The internal dialog sounds like this:

“I’m in Manhattan!  I’m in Manhattan!  I’m in Manhattan!”

And then I look at other people talking, and this is what I imagine them saying:

“Manhattan!  I’m in Manhattan!  Manhattan! Manhattan! Manhattan!”
“Manhattan Manhattan?  Manhattan, Manhattan, Manhattan.  Manhattan!”

I will say this has been subsiding as I get used to my  new gig, but it still happens occasionally.



Published by

Mike Richichi

I'm an inveterate geek who's somehow become a leader in higher education information technology. These are some of my thoughts.