EDUCAUSE 2018

Here I am, the weekend before the Tuesday morning I’ll be flying out to Denver for EDUCAUSE 2018.  I’m getting ready–I made sure my spouse had my itineraries and conference information, I’m making plans with people, reviewing my schedule yet again, and generally getting in the frame of mind I need to be in to get the most out of the event.

This will be my 13th EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.   My first was in 2004, and I’ve been to every one since 2010.  I’m very fortunate in that I’ve cultivated a great network of people that I get to experience the conference with, and their perspectives continue to educate and amaze me.  I hope that I give something back to them as well.

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with everyone, meeting new friends, learning great things (I’m particularly interested in diversity in the profession, data warehousing, furthering my professional growth, and the future of higher ed).  I also love Denver–I lived in Colorado for a year and a half when I was in grad school, and driving to Denver for shows or tourism was always a treat.  I love the crisp mountain air and the brilliant sunshine (although the weather forecast says that will be in short supply).

As always, most of my conference suggestions are evergreen and are in this blog (just search the EDUCAUSE tag).  Denver’s altitude and dry air means hydration is important, especially for those of us nearly at sea level.   Understand you’ll be going full tilt for 12-16 hours every day, and plan for sleep and exercise to balance that.  And don’t go too crazy with the food and drink (and, I suppose, other things.)  But definitely go to dinner with people, and linger at the bar as well.

If you don’t know me, say hi.  If you do, of course also say hi.  We’ll do lunch, or dinner, or second dinner, or just hang out late at the hotel bar.  Think of deep, profound questions to ask people you meet–they will be primed to give you deep, detailed answers, trust me.  Keep the fires alive after the conference too–you can always meet up later on, and decide to collaborate on other things.  (Related:  Come to our poster session.)  Also, I’ve never met someone–even the biggest “rock stars” of EDUCAUSE, who haven’t been happy to say hi and shake hands with anyone.  That’s why they’re there.

Also, I apologize in advance for my Twitter being full of #edu18 starting Tuesday morning.  If you really don’t care I would understand if you mute me for a bit.  But not only do I like sharing with others, it’s also how I keep my notes of the conference.

See some of you in Denver!

 

Remembering Alan

Alan Candiotti– my mentor, boss, and friend for nearly thirty years–passed away five years ago today. I think about him nearly every day. This post will be based on remarks I made at his memorial service, additional recollections, and reflections on my life since his passing.

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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.

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

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.

Continue reading On the Occasion of my Semianniversary

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.

 

Continue reading What I Learned in the Job Search

When You Know It’s Time

I have just a few weeks left at Drew.  One of the things I keep realizing about this transition is that it’s something I’ve never done before:

 

 

But I had forgotten something when I tweeted this:  As a child, I moved three times before I graduated high school, and my parents moved an additional time right after my graduation, and another time 2 years later while I was in college.  As an adult I have moved to a new domicile 4 or 5 times as well. So I do have some experience with transitions, they’re just more personal than professional.

Every time I’ve moved,  there would always come a point in the move–usually when the movers had packed everything up and the house was filled with nothing but the clutter of the move–when I didn’t want to be there anymore.   There was something about that trigger that made my mind say “Yes, now, it’s time.”

I’m starting to feel that, but it’s not because I’ve physically packed up my office (I’m going to start that soon) but because I’m “packing up” my job. I’m making sure I’m giving things to other people to take on, deliberately not taking on most new things, watching as the organization makes the first steps into doing things without me.  Soon, my job itself will be nothing but a cluttered house, empty except for the pieces that are too unimportant to deal with.

And that is when I will be completely ready to go.

None of this means I won’t miss the place or the people.  Of course I will, and it will be very hard.  But I’m reminded that there’s something about the nature of transitions that readies you for the next step,  just in time for when you need it.

 

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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Gadgetphilia

I wrote an article on my more personal blog (which I’ve used in fits and starts over the years) about how the gadgets my dad brought into the house growing up shaped my sensibilities about technology.  I link  to it here because it’s a bit of an “origin story” for my professional career, and it’s an interesting journey into some older computing and electronics technology (which especially for people younger than me will seem irresistibly foreign and exotic).

I think we are shaped by the technologies we’re exposed to in ways we don’t fully understand.  It’s probably valuable to reflect upon the tools you have used, and how they affect how you attack problems these days.  Both to take stock of what your experience brings to you, and what you might perhaps need to discard to move forward.