Sunday, September 18, 2011

Upon My Arrival

Gail and I arrived in Athens on Saturday, September 10th, and our possessions arrived shortly after that. We finally feel that we are on the downhill side of this transition and we are able to catch our breath. Time to start blogging again. In reaching out to my IT organization, I sent the following out to all staff. I'm honored to be here and can say one thing: I love my job!


Let me say first what an honor it is to be your Chief Information Officer. It has been a whirlwind day, full of meetings from start to finish, but I could not let this day go without sending you just a few of my thoughts.

Both my wife Gail and I feel as if we are drinking from a fire hose. It was not quite one week ago that we departed, along with our dog Elle, on the 2400 mile journey from Los Angeles to Athens. We did the drive in two and a half days, and arrived Saturday afternoon just before kickoff. We had been planning for our possessions to arrive on Monday, but of course they didn’t arrive until 4 pm yesterday, so we were up until past 11 pm last night with movers bringing dozens of boxes into our home. We do feel that we are now on the downhill side of this journey, and we are delighted to now call both Athens and the University of Georgia our homes.

I have just finished meeting with what I will refer to as the Senior Leadership team in EITS. This is a group that is comprised of the EITS directors and representatives from the Office of the CIO and the PMO. This group will serve as the primary direct reports meeting that I have each week with your leadership. Moving forward, we will be meeting each Wednesday morning.

One of the things we talked about today is my desire to focus and intensify our efforts on staff training and professional development. To that end, today I asked Lynn Latimer to facilitate the development of what I will refer to as the “EITS Training Council,” which will be a group tasked with setting priorities for the training and professional development needs of EITS. This will be a group that consists of front line / first level supervisors, whose duty will be to accept, vet, and prioritize requests from each of our directors for funding to support training needs and professional conference attendance. They will meet on a quarterly basis.

I expect, beginning immediately, that we will triple our current annual spending on training and professional development so that we begin spending between 2 – 3% of our state budget on these activities. You will be hearing more about the development of this council over the coming months, but know that it will become the primary vehicle for vetting and prioritizing the funding that we allocate to what I feel is our most important activity – which is the development of our staff resources.

I also want to tell you about a new tradition that we will begin this October that I call the “Monthly Celebration.” Moving forward, on the first Friday of each month at 10am, we will be having an all EITS staff meeting where we collectively recognize birthdays, anniversaries, significant accomplishments, and both an “Employee of the Month” and a “Team of the Month.” Also, I will use this time to share important information with you about what is going on in my office and at the University. It will also be a time where you can ask me questions. We will also enjoy some refreshments and the opportunity to fellowship with one another for a few minutes away from the normal hustle and bustle of our work. Our first “Monthly Celebration” is scheduled for the first Friday in October, and I look forward to seeing you there. Moving forward, I have asked Greg Topp to work to refashion our existing awards committee so that it assumes ownership of this event and implements a regular process for accepting your nominations and selecting the employee and team of the month.

I also want to thank you for submitting your feedback to me on the TechQual+ survey that I sent out to you last month. Almost 80% of you responded to me with your thoughts, and while I have not yet begun digesting it, I look forward to reading your assessment of our strengths and opportunities. When I left Pepperdine last week, I gave a talk to the IT organization called “Parting Thoughts”. As I begin working with you here at UGA, I will be scheduling a similar talk called “Opening Remarks” where I share with you the feedback that you gave me through TechQual+ and my full vision for the role and impact of an IT organization such as ours. While we have not scheduled this meeting yet, my hope is that it will be scheduled in the afternoon on the first Friday in October. Stay tuned for more on this event.

Again, it is an honor to be your Chief Information Officer, and I look forward to meeting you face to face. You will be hearing more from me in the coming weeks and I hope that you will reach out to me anytime that I can be helpful. My door is always open.


Timothy Chester

More to come...

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