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EDUCAUSE Young Professionals on Career Development

min read
The Integrative CIO | Season 1, Episode 9

Hosts Cynthia and Jack talk with two members of the EDUCAUSE Young Professionals Advisory Committee: Tara Hughes, Interim Chief Information Officer for California State University Maritime Academy, and Sandeep Sidhu, Chief Information Officer for Emily Carr University of Art & Design.

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Jack Suess: Welcome to the EDUCAUSE Integrative CIO podcast. I'm Jack Suess, vice president of IT and CIO at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

Cynthia Golden: And I'm Cynthia Golden, associate provost at the University of Pittsburgh.

Each episode we welcome a guest from in or around higher education technology as we talk about repositioning or reinforcing the role of IT leadership as an integral strategic partner in support of the institutional mission.

Today we have a special episode of the podcast and we're talking with two leaders from the EDUCAUSE Young Professionals Advisory Committee. Please welcome Sandeep Sidhu, chief information officer at Emily Carr University of Art and Design in Vancouver, British Columbia, and Tara Hughes who is chief information officer at California State University Maritime. Welcome to both of you.

Jack Suess: I have been so looking forward to this conversation since we booked it, Cynthia. I'm so glad that both Sandeep and Tara are on.

Sandeep, could you take a minute and introduce yourself to the audience and tell us how you got involved in YPAC?

Sandeep Sidhu: Thank you, Jack and Cynthia for the introductions. I started my career in higher ed just about 10 years ago primarily. As I was reflecting back this morning, I realized my first job started in 2002 in IT as a security analyst and here we are, just replace that with another two in 2022, a lot has changed. My first role was in security, worked for Citigroup and that led the very interesting journey for me. I did number of contracts with private sector and I was I think, trying to figure it out for the first two years, is this a space for me? I wanted to be an architect when I was growing up. Then I got into consulting with a number of organizations.

As you can probably tell by now, I'm from Sydney, Australia, so most of my first career was there. A number of those engagements included private and public sector and I was drawn to universities because I was always academically quite active when I went to school, did my masters. Part of that I got an engagement to teach, which I absolutely loved. Then I decided to get married to a Canadian, moved here. That totally changed everything about my career plan. Ended up in a university where they were doing a transition from a college to a university. Great time, lot of learning. Since then, I've been in higher ed.

That was probably around 2010 and I've held a number of roles and I think I always keep coming back to the sense of networking and support and the community feel that exists in higher ed, that's still pulling me back and really enjoying my journey. I've been at Emily Carr U for about a year and a half as CIO and yeah, exciting times. The little pandemic that we just got out of has taught us a lot, that's me.

Jack Suess: Tara, how about yourself?

Tara Hughes: Thank you for these introductions and wonderful to be on this with Sandeep. My name is Tara Hughes, I am the chief information officer at California State University Maritime Academy. Our academy is the smallest of the 23 California State University schools. Thinking back to my own journey into higher education, if I take Sandeep's cue and go back to 2002, in 2002, I was finishing up my freshman year of college. I got married, always can remember my anniversary because we said I do in 2002, that's handy. About a year later, got pregnant and started a family instead. Dropped out of college for quite a while to be able to raise three beautiful girls.

Really, my journey through academia took a very different turn than I was expecting. I didn't get my bachelor's degree until I was 29. All three of my girls got to attend my college graduation, which was really special. I'm a first gen college graduate in my family. That was really meaningful to finish my education, to set an example for my kids. We ended up moving to be closer to my husband's work at Cal State University Channel Islands in 2014. They had a need to manage some student assistance for a call center, happened to be within IT and so I applied and was hired. Had really no expectation to work in IT or higher ed, just fell into it. Then over the course of those few years that I've been in higher ed, I really fell in love with the mission of higher education because of the way that it transformed my own life and provided new opportunities for me. Really being mindful of the opportunities that I wanted my children to have and to see what was available to them.

Working with students was just a game changer for me. I fell in love with the work of both the student experience and also technology and really understanding the user experience and coming at it from a really empathetic approach because I too was a little bit green in certain areas. Through my short time in higher ed, I went from managing a call center to managing our help desk, to expanding that into shared services and taking on human resources and a couple other spaces. Then moved into leading an AI chat bot effort for the campus there. Then the pandemic hit and that completely changed my approach for what we were going to do with the chat bot and how to provide help and assistance and support to our students. Then last June I moved over to Cal State Maritime as the deputy CIO. In January, I entered in currently as the interim CIO and am serving in that capacity and really loving every minute of it. But it's been an unexpected journey to say the least.

With YPAC, I originally got involved because I had a couple different people reach out and say, "Hey, we really think that you should at least consider this." Truth be told, I had submitted to be part of YPAC when it first, first got introduced and I was brand new in higher ed and I did not get a spot. Learned a lot through that process, but it made me a little shy to enter back into that arena the second time. Really grateful for mentors and people who said, "Give it a shot. See if it's something that works out for you. We think you have a voice to add." Really being able to be a part of the YPAC community and add maybe a different flavor of perspective has been a real joy.

Cynthia Golden: You've both been involved in a number of professional organizations and I'm curious, since you started to talk about YPAC Tara, how has your involvement helped either of you in finding others from our community to connect with? How has this really helped your day to day work, Sandeep?

Sandeep Sidhu: Thanks, Cynthia. I'll start with why I joined YPAC because I realized didn't answer that. My funny reason was I was told that there is a age cap, it's for young professionals. I was like, "I only got a year to go. I better be in this committee," so there we go. I am loving the work that we are doing in that group and Tara is one of my peers.

I think we do a number of things and the three that resonate with me, one is the idea of that confidence sharing, supporting each other in that group. We share some common attributes and some very distinct ones. The second is the power of network that comes with that very, very diverse group there. And the last one is not reinventing the wheel, which I think exists in higher ed, that community anyway, where we bounce off lots of ideas. It's a problem solving group as well, and I've made some really good friends. Yeah, I will leave it there.

Cynthia Golden: Tara, do you have anything to add to what you said about YPAC before and how your involvement with it has maybe helped you find community?

Tara Hughes: Yes, Sandeep hit some really critical ones. I think to expand a little bit on the last one, being able to provide perspective not only to each other by expanding our diversity of thought and experience and skills and just being a support network to one another, but also being able to provide a lens for how to meaningfully navigate your career and how EDUCAUSE really wants to be able to be that support system. But coming from at least where I was a newbie in higher ed, my first EDUCAUSE conference back in 2015, I had no clue what I was doing there. I didn't know where to go, I didn't have anyone to talk to outside of my organization for the few people that were there. But my exposure was mostly, oh these are CIOs and ISOs and I don't have anything to do with that. Felt just so much lower on the totem pole.

I think going through navigating my own career and wanting to provide maybe a little bit of an easier pathway for young professionals to know how they can be authentic to their own career paths, but really be able to engage and participate in EDUCAUSE in a way that's really meaningful to whatever their career goals are. And feel like they do have something to contribute even if they're young, even if they have maybe different experiences. That everything that's critical is just housed in the C suite, as we like to call it. But that we really need that diversity of thought and perspective and engagement and participation at all levels. I love the mission of YPAC in that regard.

Jack Suess: I really love what you both are saying because I remember the first time I attended an EDUCAUSE event and I was the only one from my institution going, I didn't know anyone. Most of the people there were from much larger institutions than mine. This idea of how do you make friends, how do you pull yourself in, it's just so important that we're thinking about being a more welcoming community for everyone if we're going to grow and make sure that this happens. I love what you're all doing with YPAC.

One of the things that I'm really curious about is how do we help people leverage social media as we're thinking about building connections? Historically, when I was coming up, you would email or you might phone people, it was pre-social media. But now that we have social media, we have a whole set of different connections that are coming between LinkedIn, Twitter, et cetera. Sandeep, I'm going to start with you because I love your LinkedIn handle, lead by example. Obviously, you've been thinking about this in that context since it goes back a decade almost. It looked like you started that maybe in 2013. How are you thinking about social media and how does that connect into some of the building connections that you're also thinking about through YPAC?

Sandeep Sidhu: Excellent question, Jack. I think social media has become quite a bit of dangerous space in so many ways, where when you have a very democratic way of providing everyone access to have the ability of opinion, you got to be ready with all sorts of opinions as well. That's the dangerous side and then there's the exciting opportunity, the risks are both ways. For me personally and the network that I've connected with, social media presents an amazing opportunity to connect with individuals. We talk about EDUCAUSE, these are physical presence and then there's that virtual space that exists. I met so many people in my first couple of EDUCUASE conferences by just following them on Twitter. I still continue that and some people I don't even recognize, but we share some common values. One of that value is sharing experiences and sharing some moments. You could potentially find something that you found very useful that you read that morning and you shared with your network.

It's a great also source of information to validate some of your biases sometimes. I've seen so many people put out questions that I'm thinking to go with, "Should I be going with green and yellow in my dress?" Never do that, I've been told those two colors don't go. But if you ask Australians, those are two colors, gold and green for us. But anyhow, that's just an example where I feel there is so much more work to do and just talking about YPAC, I know that last year EDUCAUSE launched a new platform that helps us engage differently, moving on from email. I think having those internal networks is also very helpful. There's that outwardly use of social media, but then the internal networks that I find very useful personally. In terms of value, what I really value is the power of network and I'm going to keep coming back to it because I truthfully feel that all of us is better than one of us and simply that's what social media has enabled us to do.

Jack Suess: Tara, how about yourself?

Tara Hughes: Yeah, I agree. I think it's interesting to think about social media because some of the leaders who have come before us, grew up where technology was very new in the spaces that they were in. There's just a different interaction with social media for someone who's 20 to 30 years older than me. For me, I feel really fortunate to have gone through my adolescent years without the burden of social media and some opportunity to figure out myself a little bit more before being out there for the world in that regard. But for my kids, they're all teenagers in high school. They don't know anything other than technology being as ubiquitous as it is and social media especially. I think to some degree I feel like I have a unique advantage of being in the middle and straddling a little bit of both worlds where I can see social media as a benefit, but it's not everything to me because it wasn't always part of my existence. I think that's been really helpful.

One of the things that I think a lot about when it comes to social media for myself with professional development, is likening it to a stock portfolio. If you think of your social media portfolio as wanting to have diversity of options and really curating that identity to make sure that it's consistent, but also that it allows for you to be able to engage meaningfully in different spaces, I think there's a lot that can be taken away from that. Even when I was doing work with the chat bot, being able to share with groups on LinkedIn, compared to Twitter, compared to my Instagram, compared to Facebook, those were all different people groups that I was exposed to and they're exposed to what I'm sharing that might not necessarily overlap. Being able to get messaging out in a meaningful way, but being really intentional about it, I think can have huge dividends for your own exposure to other possibilities you don't even know exist just yet.

Being very mindful of that, I think a lot of my more recent career growth was at least in part due to being able to curate that image and put myself on the map. I have to say it's very startling to me, and Sandeep mentioned this, people that I follow on Twitter that I just have such admiration for in the higher ed space, to meet them at a conference or whatever, I'm fan girl. I get so excited to meet these people because I have such admiration. But then to have someone say, "Oh, you're the person on Twitter," that blows my mind. I can't believe that I am part of that. That feels like such a tremendous win, I don't know.

I think social media has a lot of benefit, but I do think that there needs to be a lot of intentionality with what you want to get out of it and making sure that you're using it in a way that has an added benefit. I think that takes some maturity, which is why my kids don't have it. But also, I think that experience of really thinking through how do I want to use this as a tool for authentic human interaction and benefiting my career and not just something where I'm spouting off random thoughts and ideas.

Cynthia Golden: I love the way you're thinking about that, Tara. I think that the idea of curating your social media like a stock portfolio is great advice for anybody. I'm thinking about recent college graduates, we're about to have commencement in a few weeks and people who are starting out in the world, I think that's a wonderful, wonderful way to think about this.

Right now there's a lot of churn in the workforce, speaking of people starting out new jobs and new roles. I know we are reading about how people are changing jobs, moving to new industries. I know a number of people from IT who have left higher ed to work in the corporate world. I guess I'm interested in what you think about how we should work to attract and to keep IT professionals in higher education. Is this something YPAC has discussed, or what are your thoughts about it? Let's start with you, Tara.

Tara Hughes: That's the million dollar question. I think truthfully it's something that in conversation with a lot of colleagues, I think we're still discovering and trying to figure out everything that we can and should be doing in support of attracting and retaining quality employees. I think I continue to go back to really trying to have a lens of empathy and thinking about what the last two and a half years did. I feel very unique in this, there's a lot of positive that came out of COVID in spite of some of the real challenges. But I think we'd be remiss to say that it didn't cause every single one of us to rethink our priorities and reassess the way that we spend our time. I think that's the outcome that we're dealing with now, is as we see people moving over into different opportunities, I think there's a direct correlation between work life balance, different opportunities, maybe wanting to work from home more often because of what it affords them; to be able to spend more time with their families.

I think it's something that we're going to have to address one way or another. I think the challenge from even a CIO level is that there's only so much agency that we have to be able to support that kind of change. There has to be a broader support and desire for some of those changes to really stick. I think that seven years ago me wouldn't have necessarily understood the nuances involved there. I think I'm learning a deep appreciation for those nuances now. But I think Sandeep has probably a little bit more to add because she's been at this a bit longer than I have.

Sandeep Sidhu: Tara, you're right, it's more than even a million dollar in today's inflation question. I've been at it for some time, but the landscape is incredibly more complex and difficult, I agree during the pandemic. There are two things I've been thinking about and obviously there's so many pressures besides pandemic. The increased inflation and also the competition with the private sector. By that, what I mean is the pandemic has really drawn attention to the digital organizations in the private sector, they're helping the globe survive this pandemic.

The two areas that I've been looking at, one is we absolutely need to think about how do we continue to invest in our student pipeline? We have access to this amazing talent, what are we doing about it? It's beyond hiring students to help at the help desk level. I think we need to help mentor and coach them to be leaders and help them build an understanding of how attractive it is to actually work at a university and show them those benefits. That's one.

The second one is I think the CIO of today has to spend more time in building learning and development pathways. The amount of time we are sitting in committees to talk about projects, very, very important. Cybersecurity absolutely important. But how much time of my weekly commitment is actually coaching someone, mentoring someone within my organization and beyond, I would say. This is where I think groups like YPAC and many other EDUCAUSE all together are incredibly powerful. I recently saw the learning pathways announcement as well and I immediately sent it to a few folks. I'm like, "Have a look at this, we don't have to do it alone and here's some great resources."

Those are the two things that I'm definitely making a priority for myself and I hear many others talk about it.

Cynthia Golden: The pathways work is terrific, I think. I really do.

Jack Suess: I am so glad to hear you though, talk about the student pipeline. I'm going to comment a little bit first, which is I started as a student at UNBC and now 42 years later I'm still here. But it changed the course of my life. I don't think I would've been in technology. I was studying mathematics and doing what would've been, I guess a minor in computer science, but I didn't really like programming. But I got a job programming in the summer in my junior year. I loved it, it was different than the computer science way of programming, interacting with people. I think all too often we can change the course of our students' life by thinking about this. My institution, it's about 60% to 70% of my staff went here, they come through the students.

But one of the things we're really talking about now, and I'm curious if either of you are thinking about this, is we've really made a focus of diversifying our student workforce because that's who we've hired historically, is students who worked for us and they come in. I see this as really the long term way of ultimately beginning to help, one of the ways of helping to diversify our IT organizations is by thinking about how we give more opportunities to students and then thinking about bringing them on board.

I'm curious if you could comment on that, both of you. I'll let you start, Sandeep and then Tara. But I'm also interested in hearing your thoughts of how we can be thinking more deeply about diversity, equity and inclusion. I'd love to hear both of you talk about that as you answer this question.

Sandeep Sidhu: Great, thanks Jack. I'm going to reflect on something that happened earlier this week when I answer the question around diversity first and then I'll talk about student population. In our town hall, we were just starting to think about a strategic plan for the university. There's a journey that we're undertaking and in our IT town hall we started talking about the values that resonate with us. There were a couple of groups that were talking about diversity and then this was an very interesting perspective that came from my team around diversity versus inclusiveness. I think we've done great work in higher ed in building diverse teams and I'm not saying we are done. I think we've made huge improvements. The thought that came from that group was more around including them at what level of decision making? How do we include our students at that level of answering the questions that are coming at help desk level, is do we have students in our committees to help us make those decisions? Are we empowering them?

I can right away see us thinking about oh, maybe they are not mature enough. That question comes up all the time. How do we measure maturity? There is a lot of value in being naive and just being optimistic and seeing that, but you have to balance both perspectives and do the reality testing. I think the diversity is seen from different backgrounds as well, different perspectives, experiences, cognitive diversity. I've been reading a lot about that as well and how I think it also helps us challenge our biases. We've been reading a lot about implicit biases, the work that Harvard has done as well. I think it's a great opportunity for us to bring in some of those perspectives and start by even assessing where we are.

I see students' role in so many more ways than having and giving them those summer jobs. I think diversity starts from that perspective. Our enrollment is changing as well. We are seeing students from different backgrounds, different communities. Our First Nations community is becoming of huge importance for us because we feel we need to do a lot more work. I'm constantly thinking about how do we include that within our team? We lack that perspective right now.

Tara Hughes: I think that is such an important question and I love what Sandeep was talking about, the student pipeline. I think one of the things that's a little bit easier and more meaningful when you're hiring student workers, at least in my experience, was that we were able to expand what we were looking for so that it wasn't just a matter of technical ability. It was really trying to understand what's their work ethic, how do they problem solve, how do they have teamwork? Those become, I think more challenging to identify the higher up you go with staff interviews and things like that. If you're doing that at the student level and then have the ability to mentor and coach them along the way, I think there's a lot of meaning there. For me, that meant that we had a lot of females compared to when I first took over the help desk at that campus, there was one. Having a lot more diversity just there. But then having performing arts majors and English majors and these were not IT majors.

I think what was incredible was that we benefited from their unique perspective and approach in problem solving and they benefited from realizing, I had a number of the girls who would come to me and say, "I didn't think that I could do technology." It was empowering to them to be able to learn a skill that they had written off at some point. The pipeline goes much further back than just college, if we're being honest. But I think we have an opportunity to try to make some of those corrections at the college level and hopefully be able to influence and allow for expanding their own possibilities in their mind for what they might want to go out and do.

I think the diversity of thought and perspective continues to be something that shapes every interaction that I'm having. We're a small campus, so we have a small, lean team and the importance of if you're not going to have a team that's large, because maybe that's just not necessary, to still be able to find ways to get diverse perspectives and make sure that you're not getting stuck in whatever silo of information that you've been exposed to for however long. Having that be able then to pivot in directions that previously wouldn't be available to you. So that when new hires are available, that you might have found that you're looking for someone else entirely different than maybe what you would've been looking for a year earlier, simply because you've been exposed to other colleagues who think differently and problem solve differently.

But I do think that it's not enough to have the token of diversity and not find ways to meaningfully include them in different spaces. There's a campus level and then there's the national higher education level of being able to also allow for diverse thought and perspective. If we are making as many inroads as we can at our campuses, and there's limitations I think to some degree, but being able to participate in a meaningful way as well on the national landscape by doing mentoring, like with the EDUCAUSE mentoring platform for instance, and making sure that at least as much as we can with where we're at, we're trying to make that something that isn't just a token box that we check. Then being cognizant of opportunities and maybe trying to create opportunities as we go along.

But I do think that the one benefit of the change in our workforce is that it is allowing for us to maybe rethink the way that we're going to backfill those positions and it gives us a little bit of a reset for having DEI efforts in mind a little bit more meaningfully.

Jack Suess: Cynthia, do you want to jump to the imposter question?

Cynthia Golden: Sure, that sounds good. Tara and Sandeep, as we were doing prep for this call, we talked a little bit about imposter syndrome or feeling like you don't belong. Tara, would you elaborate a little bit on what you were saying earlier?

Tara Hughes: Happily, this is my soapbox. I think imposter syndrome has gotten a lot of play over the last several years. I obviously didn't invent it, but it resonated with me. One of the things as I was reflecting last night, thinking about our conversation today, was when I had been asked to submit a proposal to security professionals a few years back. My response was, "Well why would I do that? I run the IT help desk, I don't really have something to contribute there." Immediately wrote myself out of even the possibility of participating. I had someone push back and say, "Then you should submit a proposal about that." The work that ensued when that proposal then got accepted, I wasn't planning on that, was really transformative for me personally. Partly because as I dug into imposter syndrome and at least what that meant for me personally. I talked about coming into higher ed, being a mom of three and getting my bachelor's degree later on in life. I really struggled with figuring out whether I belonged in this space at all.

Doing the work of figuring that out and really working that out in myself to say, "No, I do belong and here are the reasons why. It's not because I need to be perfect and it's not because I need to be exactly like this person. I have something unique to contribute and everyone is learning something new every day." In really doing that work, had I not done that then, I really don't think that I would've been prepared for the roles that came afterwards because it required a shift in my own identity and the way that I viewed myself and what I was capable of.

The other thing that was just really striking about that was that traditionally imposter syndrome, and I think you see a lot of articles about how that impacts women and minority groups and that absolutely is true, but what was so impactful to me was after that initial presentation in a room full of almost all men, it was so many of them coming up afterwards saying, "Wow, that's me. You articulated something that I felt but didn't know how to say or identify. I felt like an imposter in security for all these years." Some were really emotional and I think it can be very tempting or easy to assume that it's only going to apply to one group of people when really it's something that depending on what phase of life you're at and what space you're trying to enter, that we all struggle a little bit with trying to figure out do I belong here?

I think the way that we answer that question is really important and making sure that you're surrounded by people who can help make sure that you're coming to the right answer to that question and that you're doing the work in your own self to prepare yourself for opportunities ahead. It's a transformative thing, but it very much is something that can't be done alone.

Cynthia Golden: That's where mentors I think can be incredibly helpful. Sandeep, do you have anything to add?

Sandeep Sidhu: We talked about the power of network and diversity. I think I'm a little bit on the other, I wouldn't say the other extreme in terms of imposter syndrome, but a little bit further out where I felt I can do it, I don't care. Give it to me, I'll figure it out. If I don't know today, I'll figure it out. However, I also have moments. We are programmed to have moments of self doubt. It's part of our survival, is to evaluate risk. What risks are we going to take that we are comfortable with? I really appreciate what Tara is saying. I do spend a portion of my thought process in trying to figure out those risks, but my default is I'm going to jump in even if I don't know how to swim and I'll figure it out.

I also wanted to say a sense of belongingness is something further to what Tara is talking about. The imposter syndrome comes from when I don't feel a sense of belongingness. That is so important as part of nurturing. The way nature nurtures, we are programmed to nurture ourselves or the community around us comes from feeling belonging. I think for me that's very important. The moment that's there, I'm ready to take on any challenge.

Cynthia Golden: Interestingly, I think that's where organizations like EDUCAUSE really help. I know for me, my sense of belongingness to higher education came through the professional organizations in the early days.

Jack Suess: Yeah, no. It was interesting, Cynthia and I were talking the other day and I mentioned just how important she was actually when she was at EDUCAUSE in helping to give me confidence to try to do things when I was coming from a small institution that really wasn't well known nationally. I got to be on a program committee for one of the regionals that we had at the time. It gives you a chance to demonstrate and show confidence. I think this is something that everyone feels, and I loved your comment, Tara.

Sandeep, I agree with you that all too often I think we need to be feeling like we've got the comfort and support to take that risk that we have. Hopefully, this will be something that more people are prepared to do.

As we think about closing this up, how would you like to see us work within the community at EDUCAUSE to be bringing more people in? We talked a little bit, but I don't think we do enough of bringing people early in their career into the community of EDUCAUSE. What are some ways that you both might see us trying to do that?

Sandeep Sidhu: My hope is that we can do two things and give ourselves a timeline by that time we're going to get it done. One is how do we include our student community within EUCAUSE? I think that is absolutely critical that we do that sooner than later. There's an EDUCAUSE conference happening this year, what are we going to do? That's one for me and I'll challenge others to join in.

The second would be I think the importance of mentorship that Tara, and I think everyone talked about here, how do we pay it forward? I am here because there've been several mentors and coaches. I am the product of them and I have to pay it forward, that's why I'm at YPAC, that's why I'm in other communities as well. I feel a sense of ownership and duty. Yeah, those would be my two.

Jack Suess: Tara?

Tara Hughes: I don't know that I could say it better, to be honest. I totally agree. I think the student component is a missing perspective that would add a lot of value and richness to the way that we're having those conferences and the conversations that are being had. I think again, there's a mutual benefit.

I think for me, Sandeep literally said what I was going to say, I am the product of what so many people have done and poured into me, that I do feel a responsibility to pay that forward. I feel genuinely overwhelmed at the kindness and generosity of people who have taken the time to support me and my growth and my success. I don't even know that I would've made it this far, even in deputy CIO and CIO without the help and support and guidance and mentorship from so, so many people. I think that as we see so many of our leaders retiring and moving on, it's up to us to step up and really make sure that we have more than enough replacements for pouring into people who follow after us.

The other thing that I think that we started to do last year at EDUCAUSE and I really loved and so I'd like to expand, we had a YPAC space, a physical space. And it was fun, it was fun to be there and make a little bit of noise and attract people to our area. Not everyone who came to visit us were YPAC, it was people who were coming, how can I support YPAC? CIOs and ISOs and upper admins really wanting to understand the mission of YPAC and how to support young professionals. I would love to see that continue to grow and really foster that because I think it makes a big difference.

I remember my first EDUCAUSE, seeing the CIO lounge and being like, "Ooh, what's in there?" I think being able to create a space where young professionals, as it's this gargantuan conference, of giving them a place where they can connect and network both with other young professionals, but maybe even setting up those brain dates. But really trying to make meaningful connections for them there. I think that in person element is much easier to then carry over across social media and the distances that we all inevitably have, if you're able to have that interaction in person at first. I'd love to see that continue to grow.

Jack Suess: I'm going to take Sandeep's challenge, she wants action items, and say that as we close this podcast, my action item to all the peers that are listening is, if you're a CIO, identify someone young with high potential in your organization and bring them along to EDUCAUSE and help get them involved with YPAC and the other things. Spend some time with them, to be helping them get acquainted with the community. You'll be paying it forward for years to come.

Thank you both, this was a wonderful talk. I really appreciate it.

Cynthia, do you have anything you want to add?

Tara Hughes: It's just been terrific to talk with both of you and I look forward to seeing you at an EDUCAUSE event one of these days.

This episode features:

Tara Hughes
Interim Chief Information Officer
California State Maritime Academy

Sandeep Sidhu
Chief Information Officer
Emily Carr University of Art & Design

Cynthia Golden
Associate Provost
Executive Director of the University Center for Teaching and Learning
University of Pittsburgh

Jack Suess
Vice President of IT & CIO
University of Maryland, Baltimore County