Author Archives: Joe Sabado

What’s In It For Me?

There is one question folks are probably wondering but won’t explicitly say when changes are introduced that may impact them. That question is “what’s in it for me?” As an organizational change leader, this is a question that you need to be ready to answer and to spend some time explaining to those impacted by the change. This is to create buy-in so as to make the change and transition process smoother. It’s also the right thing to do.

I’ve worked on and have led several campus information systems projects at UCSB since 1996 including an electronic medical records system, a system for managing international students and scholars (SEVIS), and an advising system used across the campus. One lesson I’ve learned in implementing these systems is that change can be emotional and psychological. When a new system or process is introduced, it can pose a threat to the people impacted. The threat can be to their livelihood and even worse, a threat to their identities. Some folks are attached to certain processes and certain systems. These systems and processes can represent their reputation as experts, they are part of their daily routines, and they also represent areas of ownership. When those systems and processes are changed,their identities are challenged.

So the next time you have the opportunity to introduce changes to your workplace, think about this question of “what’s in it for me?” from those impacted by the change. Take time to understand them. Get them involved in the process. Don’t make the mistake as a project manager of neglecting the human aspects of change. It’s not all about tasks, budgets, and deadlines.


Technology as Enabler of Student Network Development Through Information Sharing

About a couple of weeks ago, I decided to buy some lunch from the UCSB Filipino-American student group to support their fundraiser. While I was eating, a student introduced himself to me and we started talking about my association with the organization through the years. He also shared with me that he actually knew about me and in particular about the fact that I helped developed our online portal (GOLD) used by students to register and manage their courses, amongst other functions. He then asked me a seemingly simple question but one that I had to think about for a bit. His question was “Can you tell me what’s different now with UCSB compared to how it was back then?” I responded with something obvious like “these buildings you see around you weren’t here back then.” But, what I also mentioned to him was how technology has transformed how students find information and how they conduct their business with the campus. For one, when it comes to general information, students no longer have to rely solely on campus staff to obtain the information.  Second, students nowadays no longer have to physically visit the departments to find information and conduct their business as they can now do many of their administrative (e.g., financial aid, billing) and academic transactions (course registration) online.

As I shared with the student, when I was a student at UCSB in the 1990′s we had to visit the departments physically and speak with the staff to find information. They had the monopoly to the information since information were not readily available beyond their offices. There were printed course catalogs and pamphlets of course, but students could not share information they know on a mass scale.

With social media and the web, students have become both consumers and producers of information.  Just observe the activities on facebook, twitter, reddit and other social media platforms and you notice students exchanging information amongst themselves. Information students share include deadlines, orientation, financial aid, housing, courses, and other campus services. Most of the time, the responses are accurate. Sometimes, when a wrong answer is provided, there are other students who will chime in and offer corrections. They offer advice to each other, including how to waive health insurance, how to get to the airport or bus stations, how to fill out forms, and which courses to take for their majors.

What I find interesting as I observe these exchanges of information going on is that relationships and social networks are also being created. I’ve also seen a couple of students assume roles as community leaders and as credible sources of information. What is missing in all of these interactions are the campus staff. In a way, these online interactions somewhat change the dynamics of interactions between student and staff. I don’t have data to prove this point, but I wonder if the frequency of physical contacts between staff and students are less now than how it was back then before the age of the web and social media.

There was actually one time not so long ago when I observed a student who seemed new to the campus since she was trying to figure out a campus map. I offered to help her and asked her what department she was looking for. She told me she was looking for the Registrar’s office. I asked her if she’s new to the campus and her response surprised me. She told me she was a second-year student, but she’s never visited the Registrar’s office.

As I think about how social media and the web have become platforms for information sharing amongst the students and not relying on staff, I wonder if there are still some staff who still see themselves as the sole source of information and maybe not too appreciative of the idea that students do exchange information and provide help amongst themselves. Personally, I think it’s great that in the process of sharing information they develop networks and social relationships that may contribute to their success at UCSB.

The Significance of Possibility/Role Models

mdyI attended a campus event to celebrate the retirement of UCSB Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Dr. Michael Young yesterday, January 23, 2015. Dr. Young will retire at the end of this month after 25 years as the VC for Student Affairs starting in 1990. It was an event attended by former and current students, staff and faculty, campus administrators, and local politicians as well. Throughout the three hour event, speakers on stage shared Dr. Young’s accomplishments, the differences he made to the community, and most importantly, the differences he made to them as human beings. During the 24 years I’ve known Dr Young, he has had a profound impact on me, greater than he will realize, as a student, as a professional and as a human being. As I shared in this post dedicated to Dr Young as my mentor/role model, I admired how he led, his integrity, and the ways he made other people feel special. Even as a student new to UCSB, I saw Dr Young as my possibility model. Dr. Young embodies the possibility that I, too, a person of color (PoC), can hold a leadership position at the highest level of the university. And, I can do so without compromising my value systems and my experience – my identity.

The entire event yesterday reminded me of the significance of possibility/role models and the impact  Dr. Young has had on others. Dr. Young inspires others through the virtue of his accomplishments and how he handles himself, especially to other folks who share his similar experience and background.

I became a student affairs professional because of Dr. Young. There were two primary reasons that led me to my career path. For one, I had a positive experience as an undergraduate student, a student leader, and as a student worker at UCSB because of the support provided by many student affairs professionals. The second reason I chose this profession is because I saw how Dr Young was effectively able to use his experience and his value systems to create positive changes for the students and staff at UCSB.  At times, these changes needed principled leaders, like Dr. Young, who brought a sense of dignity and respect to the process leading to the appropriate outcomes. At times, these changes needed strong leaders, like Dr. Young, who was not afraid to challenge the institution. As one of the speakers said yesterday, Dr. Young brought conscience to the institution. Through him, I saw how a PoC was able to overcome racism and other institutional obstacles to get to their position. In addition, I saw how a PoC can bring their unique perspective, experience, and value systems only persons of color can only understand and use them to promote the benefit of others.

My positive experience as an undergraduate student at UCSB were due to  the help of many student affairs professionals  during times of personal struggles and in helping me develop my sense of self. As a first generation Filipino-American student, I faced many challenges during my times at UCSB from culture shock, limited financial resources, micro-aggressions, academic challenges, and just going through the process of growing up. How these professionals viewed their work were shaped by Dr. Young.  Collectively, the student affairs professionals shared a common set of values of putting the needs of students first and treating them like they matter. These are value systems that were developed under the leadership of Dr. Young. Throughout the division of student affairs and the campus, his value systems were on display through the work of his staff and his relationships with students. These are values that matter to Dr. Young. These include: freedom of speech, student activism, mental health and wellness, sustainability, technology, professional development, teamwork, and treating others with dignity.

I worked for a corporation who owned/managed hospitals a few months after I graduated from UCSB as a web developer. A few times, I was invited to meetings attended by hospital CEOs. I still remember to this day walking into those meetings looking at the room and the folks sitting at the table. I sat in the corner of the room. They were all white males, middle-aged or older. I was the only person of color in the room. It was very intimidating. There were a couple of times when I joked to myself how I could never be one of them because I would fail one of the requirements – that I needed to be a white male. After a few months, I left the position to go back and work at UCSB in student affairs. I just didn’t feel like I belonged in the corporate world.

My experience in those meetings highlighted even further the significance of having folks in leadership/management position who share similar backgrounds/values/experience. At the very least, having persons of color at the highest leadership positions in an organization could suggest the org values diversity, or, it could be just tokenism. So, as I describe the significance of Dr. Young and possibility models to PoCs like me, it goes beyond skin colors. It’s also how those folks like Dr Young conduct themselves. It’s about how they were able to overcome obstacles, how they are able to use their value systems and positively influence to provide opportunities for others. Dr. Young embodies the qualities I was looking for in someone I admire and why he’s had such profound impact on my personal life and career as my possibility/role model.


Making the Best Out of Opportunities

In my career, I have been told a few times that I wasn’t the first choice for a seat in a committee or for a role in my organization. I’ve been told I was given the position because there was either an extra seat or that other people didn’t want the role that was eventually given to me. At this point in my career, I am grateful for the opportunities that come my way, albeit not always how I may have wanted them.  My  mentality nowadays is that I am going to make the best out of my situations and the opportunities given to me. As a matter of fact, I use this information to fuel my motivation to show others what I am capable of doing.

This was a different perspective from when I was younger. Back then, I took offense to the idea that I was not the first choice and that I was deemed not as qualified as other people. As a matter of fact, I had a conversation quite a while ago with a colleague about the idea that I was added on a committee because I’m Asian. I was told I made a good addition to the group for diversity. This colleague was laughing when he said this to me so I wasn’t quite sure if it was actually true, but there was some probable truth to it. I was very offended and it took me a while to get over the idea that I was chosen not because of my abilities but because of possible tokenism. However, I’m glad I was on that committee because I think I made some contributions and I was able to meet new folks along the way.

However opportunities are given to me, I’m grateful for them. At the end of the day, it’s what I make out of them that matter.


Some Random Thoughts About “Student Affairs Platform”

I was reading Eric Stoller’s post about Connecting Technology Buckets in Student Affairs and it reminded me of some random thoughts I had a couple of months ago about what  a “student affairs platform” would look like. I use an iOS mindmapping mobile app called iThoughts to document my ideas and below is a pdf with my random/not-so-complete thoughts on what would be included in such a comprehensive/integrated platform. I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.

Student Affairs Platform

Student Affairs Platform