Employee Blog

  • This is IS—Rev Sellappan

    May 31, 2018, 10:38 AM by Darwin VanDyke



    • One word that best describes how you work and why?

      Innovative

    • Current mobile device?

      iPhone 8+

    • How long have you worked at UTMB, what brought you, and what has kept you here?

      Worked here for 14yrs. Somewhere in that timeframe I left for MD Anderson for a year and then came back when I had the opportunity to start up a BI group.  It was an opportunity I could not pass up because UTMB has always felt like home. It’s where I grew up!

    • Take us through a recent workday.

      I check my calendar, read emails, respond to emails and plan my day as soon as I wake up so that by the time I get to work I know what my day is going to be like.  Once I’m at the office, I set my things down and it’s off to meetings the rest of the day both at CLC and on campus.  My goal every day is to maximize the time that I have.

    • What is the funniest thing that ever happened at work?

      After Hurricane Ike, back when I worked in the Academic Enterprise my small team of 4 people were the first few people to occupy a small suite in the Rebecca Sealy building. It was deserted and somewhat scary. We would be afraid to walk to the restroom on our own especially after people took it upon themselves to scare us with the legendary ghost stories of Rebecca Sealy (St. Mary’s Hospital in the past)! So, we developed a buddy system to go to the restroom in case we encountered something we didn’t want to on the way.

    • What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?

      My banking and airline check-in apps are so convenient.  Waze saves me so much time navigating traffic and as a music composer, I love listening to and getting inspiration from, the music on Spotify.  I also enjoy completing the activity rings on my Apple Watch.  I have a competition with my family on who can complete theirs every day.

    • What is your favorite food or meal?

      I may be Indian but I cannot live without Japanese food. So Sushi is my favorite food and Uchi in Houston is my favorite restaurant and has the best sushi in Houston in my opinion.

    • What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

      I make to-do lists to keep me organized by mainly using the Notes app on my iphone. I even have to-do lists for the weekends.

    • What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

      Ability to think on my feet and find resolutions to problems pretty quickly.

    • What do you listen to while you work? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence?

      I prefer silence at work.  Outside of work I love listening to alternative rock (Coldplay & Red-Hot Chili Peppers are some of my favorites).

    • What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?

      Night owl.  I would much rather stay up than wake up early.

    • Who is your role model?

      Sheryl Sandberg because as a woman, she overcame various challenges in her life, working her way up to becoming CEO of one of the largest companies in the world and I admire her for it. I also admire my Dad because he was a hard worker, and an ambitious man.  The majority of my foundational qualities came from him.

    • What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?

      Laundry at home.  I get around it by delegating it to someone else.  I also don’t enjoy having difficult conversations with employees but understand it’s for the betterment of the team.

    • What’s your ideal weekend look like?

      No production issues (Laughs).  Playing Japanese Taiko Drums (I spend 5 hours on Sunday rehearsing with my group and absolutely love it), visiting farmers markets, throwing dinner parties, checking out festivals in Houston, trying new restaurants, and hanging with family/friends.

    • What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

      Just completed 5 Dysfunctions of a Team and currently reading The Advantage.  Both by Patrick Lencioni. Do not seem to have time for fiction anymore.

    • You were nominated by Ronnie Austin.  He wanted to ask you—If there is any human event, past, present, or future, that you could witness in person, what would it be and why?

      Malaysian Independence (where I’m from) & the Moon Landing because it’s been a game changer for the history of mankind.

    • I’d love to see Mary Lou Morales answer these same questions as well as the following question:

      What has been the most difficult thing you had to overcome in life, how did you do it and what did you learn from it?

    • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Doesn’t have to be work or productivity-related.

      Be the change you wish to see in the world- Mahatma Gandhi

      Thanks to Rev for the excellent insights, and to Cody Milligan for conducting the interview

  • This is IS – Ronnie Austin

    May 3, 2018, 12:10 PM by Darwin VanDyke

    • One word that best describes how you work and why?
      • Thoughtfully
    • Current mobile device?
      • LG G6, it’s simple and effective. I love the combo of use and battery life.
    • How long have you worked at UTMB, what brought you, and what has kept you here?
      • I’ve been at UTMB for 12yrs. A dare brought me here actually. We were living in Louisiana and my wife wanted to move closer to some of her family so I said “Find me a job and we’ll go.” A few days later she hands me a print-out of a PeopleSoft developer job and 12 years later, here I am. The family atmosphere is what has kept me at UTMB.
    • Take us through a recent workday. Can you give us perspective of working in different areas in IS?
      • Every day starts the evening of the previous workday. I review and prioritize outstanding items which will be worked the next day.       The next morning, I clear my inbox of unread messages – noting those that require further review – and work thought my outstanding items between meetings. The main thing I’ve noticed now being in a different area of IS is that everyone does things differently so it’s neat to get a different perspective.
    • Craziest thing you ever done and would you do it again?
      • Jump out of an airplane. I did it for my birthday and the adrenaline took over so I don’t remember it very much of it. I remember sitting down after the first time because I could not stop shaking. So, I had to do it again 3 more times so that I could actually remember what all was going on. It was a fantastic experience and recommend it to anyone.
    • What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
      • Banking/bill pay apps! I remember how inconvenient it was to balance checkbooks and so the ability to manage my accounts via my phone has been lifechanging. I literally remember how excited I was the day my bank released the functionality to deposit checks via mobile.
    • Who is your favorite entertainer (Comedian, musician, actor, etc.)?
      • Vin Diesel, I love The Fast and the Furious series.
    • What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?
      • I enjoy having things at my fingertips so I use Outlook Tasks to organize my To-Do lists. I also utilize documentation as much as possible. I like having information no more than 4 clicks away.
    • What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?
      • Documentation. If you don’t document it then you own it.
    • What do you listen to while you work?
      • Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence? 101 strings station on Pandora. It’s very mellow and soothing.
    • What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?
      • In bed by 11pm, up by 6:20am. If I sleep past 9 I feel like I’ve wasted the day.
    • Who is your role model?
      • My stepfather, Rodney. He believed in me, and expressed that belief through actions which helped me build a foundation for my life, a foundation I stand on to this day. Being a stepfather myself and having walked though his shoes, I often ask myself what Rodney would do.
    • What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?
      • Not a big fan of cutting grass. Although having a nice riding lawnmower and a good set of headphones helps make it more doable. Especially since I have to now cut 3 more acres of land than I used to.
    • What’s your ideal weekend look like?
      • Going to the movies, dinner with wife, or take a weekend trip somewhere in our travel trailer.
    • What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?
      • Currently I’m reading “Big Data for Dummies” because have to learn the lingo for my new role. The book I’d most recommend is called “The Power of a Positive No” by Willam Ury.
    • You were nominated by T Mathew. He wanted to ask you— During the late 90’s early 00’s you left UTMB and came back. What is one & only one…the single most significant thing that you recognize in UTMB that is not found in other places?
      • UTMB has fostered a fantastic family atmosphere. It is as close to being a family at work as you can be.
    • I’d love to see Rev Sellappan answer these same questions as well as the following question:
      • If there is any human event, past present or future, that you could witness in person what would it be and why?
    • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Doesn’t have to be work or productivity-related.
      • If you have not failed, then you are not trying hard enough.

    Special thanks to Cody Milligan for the interview, if you’d like to be involved in publishing This is IS and getting to know other staff in the department please reply in the Comments.

  • Weekly Planner

    May 3, 2018, 12:09 PM by Darwin VanDyke

    Here’s a quick tip to make your Monday more productive for your week. Evan Martinez suggested using Sticky Notes (which we’ve highlighted before in this blog as a paper alternative) along with a custom background calendar image to manage your weekly tasks. Thanks for the great suggestion!
  • This is IS – T Mathew

    May 3, 2018, 12:08 PM by Darwin VanDyke

    This is a special retirement edition of This is IS as T has reached 30 years of service as a part of the UTMB family. He will retire in early April. Please enjoy the following interview as he inparts his wisdom.

    • One word that best describes how you work?

      Passionately

    • Current mobile device?

      Samsung Galaxy 6 but my family has been trying move me to Apple for some time.

    • How long have you worked at UTMB, what brought you, and what has kept you here?

      I’ve been at UTMB for 30yrs. Working at UTMB was always a dream job for me. While working at McDonald’s I would see doctors come in and would always ask them about UTMB and what it was like working there. I remembered I used to apply every week and then one day a church friend told me a doctor he knew was looking for someone with a chemistry degree so I applied and got the job. In the beginning I wanted to leave after getting my Computer Science degree, but I loved my job and the people I worked with, so I had no incentive to leave.

    • Take us through a recent workday.

      Come in, catch up on email. Then I make rounds with the team and see if any issues need to be resolved. Afterwards it’s meetings and trips to campus. I also enjoy speaking with other managers to get caught up on all of the changes happening in IS.

    • What is the funniest thing that ever happened at work?

      This didn’t happen at work technically but on the way to work. I was new to America and bought a new car. Be a new driver I was obedient to speed limits. So, I was driving on Broadway in Galveston when I was apparently driving too slow for the taxi driver behind me. He drove up next to me and gave me an “Obscene hand gesture.” Being new to the country, I thought he was pointing up in the sky. So, I peeked out my window and looked up in the sky to see what he was pointing at. Still laugh about that to this day.

    • What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?

      Google Maps, and Social media to connect with friends and family back home.

    • What is your favorite food or meal?

      Well-done steak

    • What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

      A lot of cheat sheets. The notes section in Outlook is where I house all my cheat sheets for InfoEd.

    • How do you keep track of what you have to do?

      I have an Excel spreadsheet with tabs labeled by month. It helps me keep track of all what needs to be done

    • What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

      Dealing with stress. I take myself out of the equation and look at the situation from a different angle. I ask myself if the issue, not the person, is worth looking into. I don’t take it personal, and feel people sometimes focus on the wrong thing.

    • What do you listen to while you work? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence?

      Not much at work. At home, The Eagles is my favorite band to listen to. Early in the morning I listen to Enya.

    • What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?

      In bed by 10 up by 5am.

    • Who is your role model?

      My father. He started from humble beginnings and rose up at his job. I always admired his hard work and dedication.

    • What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?

      Laundry. It’s just one of those things you have to do, or you can wait for someone else to do it (Just kidding J).

    • How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

      Play my guitars and listen to music. I used to play for Galveston College in the late 80’s and used the money I received to purchase my first guitar.

    • What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

      “Pour Your Heart into it” by Howard Shultz. It’s about the founder of Starbucks and what stood out to me was how passionate he was about his craft and never compromised for quality.

    • You were nominated by Jesse Seelbach. He wanted to ask you—After all you’ve done and learned at UTMB, and knowing that you enjoy mentoring others, what would be your imparting knowledge to the rest of us as you retire and begin the next chapter of your life?

      When I was working in Neurology, I used to be a part of a team conducting neuro-monitoring for spine surgeries.  One day while a surgery was going on – an emergency call came for the chief surgeon Dr. Nauta.  A patient who underwent a surgery that morning in South Texas by another doctor lost her ability to move her legs after surgery.  The surgeon didn’t know how to fix the problem and was seeking advice.  Dr. Nauta instructed the patient to be flown to UTMB.  Next day morning Dr. Nauta did surgery on the patient and redid the instrumentation.  Two days later, I saw the patient walking down the hallway of John Sealy with an IV pole connected to her accompanied by her two children.  It was a proud moment for me to visualize the bigger picture and recognize our involvement in a team which impacts lives!  All small things we do have a much bigger impact on our world!  We all yearn changes – be the change.

    • I’d love to see Ronnie Austin answer these same questions as well as the following question: During the late 90’s early 00’s you left UTMB and came back. What is one & only one…the single most significant thing that you recognize in UTMB that is not found in other places?
    • If you didn’t have to sleep what would I do with extra time?

      Some combination of ping pong, reading, badminton cards, chess, etc.

    • What skill would you like to master?

      Connecting and helping out with others.

    • What’s worth spending more on to get the best?

      Time, if I can spend more time on something, then I can get the best quality on.

    • What’s the best way a person can spend their time?

      If he/she can make themselves better than they were a moment ago.

    • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Doesn’t have to be work or productivity-related.

      Be honest and open to criticism and admit your mistakes.

  • This is IS – Jesse Seelbach

    May 3, 2018, 12:07 PM by Darwin VanDyke

    • One word that best describes how you work?

      Committed

    • Current mobile device?

      iPhone 7+

    • How long have you worked at UTMB, what brought you, and what has kept you here?

      I have been at UTMB 22yrs this June. During high school I worked at Baskin Robbins. One day after graduating, I was asleep and got a call from my aunt who worked in UTMB Physicians’ Billing Services asking if I wanted a real job. I wasn’t sure because I did like the free ice cream perk of my current job. Nonetheless, I interviewed at UTMB to see if I would like it. I did and so my career at UTMB began as a Clerk III, performing various admin tasks. Since the sight of blood made me queasy, I changed my major from Pre-Med to Healthcare Administration and from then on, my connections I made and my work ethic helped me get to where I am today. After almost 22yrs I’m still here because of the continuous opportunities to learn and grow. I also firmly believe in the mission of UTMB, and enjoy that every single job I’ve had at UTMB has positively impacted patient care in some way.

    • Take us through a recent workday.

      When I’m at Baybrook, I come in and set my things down, tell the team good morning, and try to get a feel for any issues that are occurring. Then it’s usually meetings for a good portion of the day as well as playing catch-up on emails between meetings. I also try to get some face time with at least one or two of the CMC leaders in Baybrook to see if there’s anything with which I can assist. I keep an open door policy where anyone can stop by so I’ll take a break from whatever I’m doing to listen to whomever needs my ear. I’m usually home by 6pm where I have dinner with my family, read with my children, and then spend time with my wife once the kids are asleep.

    • What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?

      iPhone without a doubt. Actually, I’m addicted to the Amazon app. It’s just too easy to buy things that look interesting. My wife asked me to stay off it and watch how much we can save on the credit card bill. It’s been quite shocking to see the positive financial impact a couple of months of not being on the app has made.

    • What is your favorite food or meal?

      Sushi and red wine

    • What’s your workspace setup like?

      My main office is at Baybrook. I put a desk and computer table together in an “L” shape. On it, I have my standing desk, two monitors, a display link, and a wireless keyboard and mouse, as well as pictures of my family. Oh, I can’t forget my desk fan…I’m always hot.

    • What’s your best time-saving shortcut or life hack?

      Applying the LEAN methodology at home. I get things ready in advance, whether that’s my outfit or my lunch for the next day. I’ll get all the non-perishables in my lunch box and anything that needs to be refrigerated is in ready-to-grab containers. My kitchen is also organized by functions such as proximity to the trash can, sink, refrigerator, or dishwasher.

    • How do you keep track of what you have to do?

      I use the calendar and task list within Outlook.

    • What everyday thing are you better at than everyone else?

      I do my best to try and be positive at all times. Any day I wake up on this side of the dirt is a good day. I see each day as another opportunity to try to do things better than I did them the day before. Life is too short to be in a bad mood.

    • What do you listen to while you work? Got a favorite playlist? Maybe talk radio? Or do you prefer silence?

      Usually I listen to country music or the Coffee House radio station on Sirius XM.

    • What’s your sleep routine like? Are you a night owl or early-riser?

      I’m usually in bed by 9:30pm, up by 4:30am to workout. I really enjoy the effects a morning workout has on my mindset and energy level for the rest of the day, plus my days/evenings are all dependent upon what happens in any given day whereas my mornings cannot be taken away from me. (Giving credit where credit is due, I learned that from Jocko Willink.)

    • What’s your least favorite thing to do, and how do you deal with it?

      Disciplining employees. I hate doing it but I know it’s necessary. I can’t let bad behavior continue or negatively impact the team, and it has put my mind at ease when I realize that the employee has done it to himself/herself. Still not fun or easy though.

    • How do you recharge? What do you do when you want to forget about work?

      Take a vacation. I can’t recommend it enough. Each March we take a trip to the Frio River. There’s six adults and eight kids in total running around so it’s always lots of fun. The best part is we don’t get cellular reception there, so I’m cutoff from my cell phone.

    • What’s your favorite side project?

      I enjoy trying to build things. Generally, my wife will find different items on Pinterest and she asks me to build them. I recently built a pinewood derby car for my son that clocked in as fast as 2.97sec during a recent competition. He won second place and missed first by only three one-hundredths of a second.

    • What are you currently reading, or what’s something you’d recommend?

      Currently, I’m reading “Silos, Politics and Turf Wars” by Patrick Lencioni. One book that I finished and would highly recommend to all is “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin.

    • You were nominated by Brenda Thomas. She wanted to ask you— As an IT Director with a clinical, rather than IT, background, what challenges have you experienced in your IT role and what strategies have you implemented to meet those challenges?

      When I first started in this role, people would underestimate me or question my knowledge on IT concepts, but at the same time, my lack of deep knowledge afforded me an excuse, if you will, to ask “dumb” questions. Sometimes people can overthink things and miss the obvious simple answer, so this method has helped in my opinion. It also presented me the opportunity to let my staff do their jobs and be the SME’s they were hired to be, which I was happy to do.       So far, they haven’t steered me wrong. I also knew that as a previous customer of IS, I had the ability to come from the customer side of IS and see things a little differently. I also don’t let the old adage “this is how it’s always been done” drive decisions. Additionally, I made sure I had a persistent mindset and made sure to read and learn as much as possible. I continue to try to read and learn something new each and every day.

    • I’d love to see T. Mathew answer these same questions as well as the following question:

      After all you’ve done and learned at UTMB, and knowing that you enjoy mentoring others, what would be your imparting knowledge to the rest of us as you retire and begin the next chapter of your life?

    • What’s the best advice you’ve ever received? Doesn’t have to be work or productivity-related.

      “Make’em a good hand”. I don’t ever want to make an employer regret hiring me. I try to always give 110% at everything I do.