IT News

Laura Simons, Anna McFadden honored by the IT Division

by Craig Fowler, CIO

Pictured left to right are Laura Simons, overall Triple P Award winner, and Zach Phillips, Dawn Brown, and John Hawes, quarterly winners.

The Division of Information Technology honored its own at a special recognition event on October 17.  Top awards were presented to Laura Simons, ERP database administrator, and Anna McFadden, Director of Academic Engagement and IT Governance.

Laura Simons received the Annual Triple P Award for her outstanding work and leadership on the recent Banner Refresh Project.  The purpose of the Triple P award is to recognize an outstanding or exceptional staff contribution that will move IT and/or the campus community to a higher level. Nominations are based on performance in one or more of the three P areas: Proactive, Process and Prevention. Though the Banner Refresh project was  difficult and complex,  Laura was nominated for embodying the ideals of being Proactive, focusing on Process, and Preventing issues before they arise by raising issues ahead of time, looking out for items that could affect quality, and defining processes to help ensure success.

Over the years, Laura has spearheaded many Banner and Oracle upgrades as well as other related 3rd party software changes. These upgrades impact core business processes and can require balancing many elements ranging from internal IT decisions, to key university business units, and even extend to work with stakeholders external to the university. Our ERP system affects the very mission of the university, and nominators indicated that Laura models leadership in ensuring care is given to confirm testing, data validation, and that user acceptance training is done prior to releasing any upgrade. Laura also stays abreast of issues from other UNC schools relevant systems and engages our functional users as well as Elluician to ensure we are aware of any problems as soon as possible. Sometimes issues can be addressed before our end users even encounter symptoms of a problem. Working with so many units, each with disparate viewpoints, requires a unique understanding of the university system and excellent communication skills.  As this year’s winner, Laura will chair the Triple P Award selection committee for next year.

In addition to Laura, quarterly Triple P Award winners this year were Dawn Brown, Help Desk Manager; Zach Phillips, Instructional Technology and Desktop Services;  and John Hawes, Learning Management System support in the Coulter Faculty Commons.

The Mentoring Award is a new annual award started in IT that is designed to honor and recognize this important role that the Division values. Characteristics outlined in the IT Mentoring Award criteria include promoting career development, promoting the development of higher level skills, and serving as a positive role model.

Anna McFadden

Anna McFadden was selected for identifying and nurturing the leadership qualities of others. Her nominators indicated that she does this both formally, by providing opportunities for professional development in leadership, and informally by enabling staff members to be in situations where they can learn, gain experience, and rise to a new level in their professional growth. Anna also allows those whom she mentors to work independently and to find their own path towards leadership. At the same time, she supports them and follows-up to be sure that they are reaching their potential.

In promoting the development of higher level skills, Anna has championed the development of higher level managerial skills and is leading the IT manager development series this fall and has provided campus-wide workshops on professional communication.

In serving as a positive role model, she sets very high standards for herself and expects others to follow her example. Nominators stated that her influence is not limited to simply her direct reports. In many ways, she serves as the “Oracle of IT,”’ providing sage advice for negotiating sticky situations or the sometimes shark-infested waters of higher education politics to anyone who asks.

Pictures of the winners will become part of the IT Recognition Wall in the IT area of the Cordelia Camp Building.