Author Archives: Joe Sabado

Learning to Let Go – A Career Lesson on Over-Committing

One of the important lessons I have learned in my career is the value of sharing my responsibilities (and accolades) with others and being careful about taking on more duties than I am able to handle. I’ve come to learn that over-committing myself and not being able to fulfill my part do result in me becoming a bottleneck to my organization and to other colleagues. The ability to say no and to remain focus on key priorities, in my opinion, are very important management skills I am in the process of learning. Too often, in our effort to please our customers/partners by trying to meet all their demands, we find ourselves having to compromise in the quality of our work and worse, we end up failing to deliver quality work in a timely manner. This is easier said than done given the seemingly infinite projects that need to be done with scarce resources. In addition to trying to please customers beyond my capacity, there were other reasons as to why I found myself over-extended. As I reflect back on my career, I think about why was it that I fell into the trap of committing beyond what I was able to deliver. Here are just a few reasons:

- Saying “no” meant jeopardizing future opportunities. Especially during my early part of my career, I thought I had to accept every tasks given to me or risk not advancing in my career.

- I fell into the trap of “hero mentality”. I felt I had to solve every problem that came my way, because that’s what heroes do. Did it feel good being recognized for being the “hero”? Absolutely, but I soon found out I was getting burnt out as I was working too many hours. I also found out being a “hero” also brought out professional jealousy from others who may have also wanted to be the “hero”.

- I felt the need to establish my areas of authority/boundaries when I was promoted to a higher position. Areas of responsibilities don’t always match what is in the job description as duties are not always exclusive to a position. Sometimes, there are more than one person responsible for the same duties.

- I thought I was the only one capable enough to do the job. I had the “expert” mentality. This was a bad mentality, especially in a team lead role. Not only is it a selfish/arrogant mentality, it’s also not sustainable nor is it scalable. When I was the only person who knew how the applications I developed work, I had to do the maintenance myself and that prevented me from moving on to new projects.

- I viewed every projects/tasks as critical/high priorities requiring immediate resolutions. Instead of spending some time analyzing the appropriate response required and planning what needed to be done, I immediately went to work fixing issues/projects that came my way.

I think I’ve changed my ways as I became more experienced and more mature in how I deal with my responsibilities/career. I’ve learned to “let go” and not feel as if I have to take on every responsibilities that come my way. In a way, taking on too much beyond my means seems selfish. I had to change my ways in part, it was out of necessity as I found myself being burned out and not having the appropriate blend of work/personal lifestyle. It was also a commitment on my end as a supervisor to model what I think is the right approach to work to my team members and other colleagues. I’ve come to learn, through experience, the benefits of not always being the one to take on every responsibility. Do I always succeed in my attempt to stop over-extending myself? Of course not. But, I am more careful about putting myself in situations where I may not be able to fulfill my responsibilities.

 

 

 

Taking Some Time to Reflect and Dream

I have heard other folks say good ideas come when they’re in the shower. Could it be because that’s one of the few minutes within our busy days we actually get to think freely and not get distracted with the worries and issues we must face at work and in our lives?

It’s been a hectic year at work. We started several major projects and maintenance of existing systems kept increasing. This is a sign of the increasing role of technology in how we do business in student affairs and on our campus. In my role as  information systems director, most of my time is spent in meetings from steering committees, oversight committees, project work groups, and with my supervisors. These meetings are in addition to managing resources, providing leadership and support to my staff, working with our business units to plan projects and to solve unexpected issues. There were times when I had to remind myself to step back and take on tasks one at a time. It’s been stressful and I definitely felt drained and frustrated at times. I took a much needed vacation this week with the goals to just read, write, and review my future career goals. It’s been awhile since I’ve actually had the time to think and reflect. As I think about why I felt so frustrated at times, I began to realize what I stopped doing the last few months — I stopped learning, thinking/dreaming about new ideas, and reflecting on growth and accomplishments. I was so busy at work managing that I had gotten away from the two activities I enjoy and used to spend a lot of my time on – reading and blogging. I read  a lot of books in 2013 but not so much this year.

I’ve only written a few blog posts this year as well. One of the many things I enjoy about blogging and reading was that one idea led to another and when different topics like politics, history, culture, and technologies came together, there was a sense of personal satisfaction in being able to synthesize these different perspectives. It was even more fun when I was able to apply what I’ve learned to my work. For me, learning and reflecting energize me. To be able to dream about the future in a world filled with pessimism and constraints is liberating. To be able to reflect and document on my  challenges, and accomplishments this past year also provided me with a sense of growth and progress. It’s hard to fully appreciate the blessings and the relationships I’ve developed without spending some time reflecting on them.

It’s amazing how easily we can get into the routine of just dealing with what’s immediately in front of us and forget to dream about possibilities and reflect on our experiences. Taking some time away from our day-to-day grind is healthy and something we should all consider.

Year in Review – Professional/Memorable Moments of 2013-2014

Academic year 2013-2014 was a year filled with accomplishments and memorable events that impacted me professionally and personally. It was a year of connecting and working with new students, UCSB colleagues, as well as professionals from all over the country I met via social media. It was a year I committed myself to learning as much as possible about student affairs, IT, and higher education through books and my personal learning networks. Below are some highlights as well as memorable moments that impacted me personally and professionally.

Student Information Systems & Technology (SIS&T):

Our student affairs division and my department started working on several major projects this year as part of a comprehensive suite of technology initiatives we will be working on for the next few years. Amongst those projects I directed/managed include:

  • Student Financial Systems Project – a redesign/migration of our existing undergraduate/graduate financial aid and scholarships system.
  • Adoption/implementation of communication/collaboration applications:
        • Emma (mass e-mailing solution)
        • BaseCamp (project management)
        • Google Analytics
        • Sitefinity (web content management system)
        • Sharepoint
        • Intelliresponse (knowledge base system)
        • Policy & Procedure Management (PPM) – document workflow approval system
  • Communication Collaborative (CommCollab) – a divisional communication initiative aimed to advance the mission of our division using the network of staff from within our division using the tools mentioned above.
  • Cloud Services Usage Guidelines
  • Data Retention/Destruction Guidelines

We are indeed busy with projects, but our department likes to have fun as well. Our department retreat last December was one of the most fun events I’ve had with my colleagues. Check out this youtube video of our team having fun – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU_P6a3nKp0.

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UCSB STEP Program (August 2013)

I was a Transitions course facilitator for this one-week summer bridge program for under-represented and first generation students.  Just like the previous three years, it was a very enjoyable and satisfying experience, personally and professionally. This one week in August is my probably my favorite week of the year because I get to meet new students. These are students who are eager to learn and who are in a major transition in their lives. It’s amazing to watch the transformation that happens in a week. Personally, my interactions with the students are reminders of why I work in student affairs.

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Foundations – New Student Affairs Professional Development Program (October 2013 – June 2014)


Foundations is a cohort-based program professional development program for new student affairs professionals at UCSB. It’s a new program intended to introduce new staff about theories and issues applicable to their roles. The program started with a three half-day “New Professional Institute” in October to introduce the participants to professional competencies, student affair structures, and overview of topics to be discussed during the year. Each month, we had a session devoted to topics including work/life balance, workplace communication, creating change, technology, shared governance/student leadership, and budget/salaries. After each session, a survey was conducted to assess the effectiveness of  the event. I was fortunate enough to have been one of the program’s coordinators. I enjoyed working with the coordinating team and our cohort members.

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Gaucho U Learning and Leadership Program (October 2013 – May 2014)

I was a mentor for a team of 12 staff (cohort G) for this university-wide professional development program. It’s a cohort-based training and development program founded on the UC Core Competency Model. I was a participant two years ago and that experience provided me with some perspective on how to serve as a mentor effectively. Our project was to implement a prototype of a mobile version of our campus homepage. Part of the effort included research by the members on what other UC campuses have already in place, as well as soliciting feedback from our campus via a survey of mobile use and preferences. From what I know, this is the first campus-wide survey regarding mobile usage that’s ever been done at UCSB. What I loved about this program was the opportunity to work and mentor staff from other parts of the campus I would never have had the chance to interact with if it was not for this program. The best part of the experience for me is watching the members develop as leaders. There was one staff in particular who was very shy at the beginning of the program but I had the hunch she could serve as an effective leader for our group, based on the initial interactions I had with her. I selected her as one of the team leaders and it was amazing watching her come out of her shell and show her leadership skills.

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NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP) (October 2013 – June 2014)

NUFP is a program designed to provide mentorship to underrepresented students interested in pursuing careers in higher education and student affairs. Students are provided with opportunities to learn more about student affairs via activities and discussions, including a trip to the NASPA national conference. I was a mentor this year and it was an amazing experience working with the highly motivated, smart, and very involved students. Some of the highlights include a trip to the Western Regional Careers in Student Affairs Day in November at CSU Long Beach. It is during this trip that I had the opportunity to interact with some of our NUFP fellows and talk about their interests and issues. It was also during this conference where I met a few student affairs colleagues I met through social media for the first time face-to-face.

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The trip to the NASPA national conference in Baltimore last March was a fun experience for the mentors and our fellows. The trip provided our team to get to know more about each other. It was an educational experience for all of us, learning more about issues/trends in student affairs and networking with other graduate students and professionals outside our campus.

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The year ended with the fellows presenting their research topics to the campus. The topics included the use of resource center towards student success, multiracial identities, and LGBTQIA. The event was attended by our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, other senior student affairs officers, staff, and students. Watching the fellows present, including my mentee, Navkira (Navi) Kaur, was a moment of pride and joy.

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External Review of Texas A&M University (TAMU) Student Affairs IT Department (September 2013 – December 2013)

I had the honor and privilege of leading an external review team to examine the IT department as part of TAMU Division of Student Affairs’ assessment efforts. I consider it a privilege because I was recommended by their IT Director for my online reputation as one who is experienced in student affairs technology. I learned a lot from this experience. For one, I was able to get a glimpse of another student affairs IT department and compare it with my own IT department. In addition, I read many IT and technology-related books, including ITIL framework, governance, and funding models. It was one of the most intense project I’ve experienced professionally. As the team leader, I had to quickly develop rapport with the other members (TAMU staff) virtually (web conference calls), and plan the three day on-site visit. As soon as I arrived on the campus and got my luggage in my room, the work immediately started with a meeting with some of their student affairs senior leadership to outline the expectations during the visit. For the next three days, it was back-to-back meetings all day, interviewing different constituencies including the IT group, the divisional customers, and the division’s senior student affairs officers (Vice Presidents). The days ended with a team meeting in the evening to review our notes. The on-site visit ended with a presentation of our findings to the directors and IT staff. My work was not done after the visit as I still had to produce a report of our findings and recommendations, with input from the other team members. In the end, it was one of the most satisfying experiences of my career. What I remember from this experience are the friendly TAMU staff and the very polite student leaders. The student representative on our team was the student body Vice-President and he wore his cadet uniform the whole time I was there. He was very formal and very respectful, addressing me and other staff with “yes, sir/yes, ma’am.” He had very thoughtful input and added a very important perspective to the process.

tamu

NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) – (October 2013 – June 2014)

NASPA is one of the two major student affairs professionals organization. I became more involved with NASPA this year through NUFP as well as through their technology initiatives. I attended the national conference for the first time and I was very impressed with the programming and the size of attendance. I was honored to be asked to participate in a two-day technology summit in Washington, DC to talk about issues and trends related to student affair technology. The group represented different constituencies in higher education and student affairs. One of the many highlights of the tech summit was meeting other colleagues I met via twitter for the first time face-to-face. While we’ve only interacted virtually before the tech summit, it was as if we’ve known each other and have been friends for a while.

NASPA Tech Summit (February 28th – March 1st) – Washington, DC

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NASPA National Conference (March 14th – 19th)

The trip to the national conference in Baltimore was a very memorable experience. Spending time with our NUFP team, meeting and spending time with someone from Scotland, learning about student affairs issues/trends all contributed to a week I will never forget. In addition, I also had the opportunity to meet other Asian-Americans and Filipino-American colleagues. We also had a #sachat meetup. This is a get together of folks who are part of the #sachat twitter community.

naspa_national naspa_national_lisa naspa_national_miles_danielle naspa_national_opening naspa_national_pinoys

Kapatirang Pilipino (KP) – (Spring 2014)

KP is the Filipin@-American student organization at UCSB. As an undergraduate student, I was very involved as a member and a leader. I was also KP’s staff advisor for years. A few years ago, KP leaders decided to go with a new staff advisor, and so I gradually became less-involved with the organization to a point where I did not know many Filipin@-American students. I was invited to attend an event during Spring quarter this year and I was more than glad to attend. What a wonderful feeling it was to be able to meet the students, including a group of them, who are part of my “KP family” lineage. One of KP’s long running tradition/program is the Kuya/Ate (big brother/sister) program that promotes the idea of mentoring by more experienced members to new members. As years had gone by, these “family lines” continued.

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I also attended KP’s 35th anniversary celebration. I met additional students and reunited with some alums. One highlight of this celebration was getting to serve a lechon – a whole roasted pig.

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Isla Vista Shooting Tragedy (May 23rd)

The tragedy that happened in Isla Vista on May 23rd when we lost some of our students really impacted me personally. UCSB/Isla Vista is a community I’ve been a part of since 1991 when I entered UCSB as a freshman. While I didn’t know the students we lost, I felt angry, lost, and confused. At the same time, in the midst of this horrible tragedy was a display of community I have never seen before. From my colleagues volunteering their time to counsel and provide any needed services, moments after the shooting, to the candlelight vigil attended by 5,000 students and community members, to the 22,000+ who attended the memorial at our stadium, these actions/events really confirmed why I love my job and while I’m still at UCSB.

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Commencement Ceremonies (June 12, 2014)

I volunteered to be part of the commencement ceremonies for the first time this year and what a fun experience that was. Helping students inside our gym as they line up and watching them find their friends so they can march together was a really satisfying moment for me. I also got to work with my wife, who helped coordinate the College of Engineering and Sciences Commencement Ceremony.

commencement_volunteer

STEP Program in August started the year for me and I ended this year by saying goodbye to one of the students, Ange, I met three years ago via this program. I am very honored for her to consider me as a mentor. Ange will be spending the next three years in China pursuing her Masters Degree.

angie

I also received a very nice “thank you note” from a student I just recently met through KP. The note was particularly significant to me because it showed that as a student affairs professional, I can be a difference in students lives the first days they arrive on campus, like at STEP Program, or during their last months here at UCSB.

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I’m excited and the same time anxious to what the next academic year brings. There are significant changes in our division with the retirement of our senior leadership and the change in leadership will provide opportunities and challenges.

Why I Love My Job In Student Affairs at UCSB

For all the challenges I face in my job from time to time, I can’t see myself working for any other place outside UCSB student affairs at this point in my career. It’s been more than a week since the Isla Vista tragedy and within that time, I’ve seen so many remarkable acts, events, selfless dedication by my colleagues and students that remind me of how remarkable UCSB community really is. I was further reminded of how blessed I am to be working in student affairs at UCSB during our divisional meeting when our Vice Chancellor Michael Young recounted all the amazing campus-wide collaboration in response to the tragedy. As he said “people just showed up and did what needed to be done.” He also acknowledged the leadership of the key individuals who were on the front line, moments after the incident.

It is during this time of the year, when I feel mixed emotions. I’m both happy to see the successes of our students and at the same time, I can’t help but feel sad that I will no longer seeing them, some of them of which I’ve seen grow since the first days of their classes at UCSB and whom I’ve developed mentor relationships with. I feel honored when students asks me to go to lunch and take the time out of their busy schedules preparing for finals and graduation to chat before they leave. I feel honored when a couple of graduating seniors I just met a month ago wanted to have lunch with me.

I have a great job and I’m very proud to say that. At the end of the day, in spite of the challenges of the job, what an honor it is to be able to serve the students and to be able to play a part in their lives. As VC Michael Young said this morning, “It’s often the personal connections that matter in the lives of our students.” I think he captured the essence of why I love my job. Through technologies, I help serve the UCSB community so students may successfully navigate the university and prepare them for their careers and develop as human beings. However, it is through the personal connections I’ve made with the few students that really makes me realize how blessed I am to be in a position wherein I can make a difference in their lives.

 

 

UCSB Community – We’re All In This Together

vigilI want to write about the emotional roller coaster I’ve felt the last few days about the senseless and tragic incident that happened to our community. But, there’s so much to process, I don’t even know where to start. If this is a rambling post, that’s a reflection of my feelings at this point. It’s hard to believe this could even happen in our community. I’m still in shock, sometimes feeling numb. I personally don’t know the students that died, though not all of their names have been released, but I am feeling the impact. I cannot even imagine the sorrow their families and friends are going through. I’m not on the front line like my fellow UCSB colleagues and so I cannot even imagine the emotions they are going through with as they deal with their own emotions and those they are helping. How could this happen to UCSB community? It doesn’t make sense. I feel angry, frustrated, sad, confused, and hopeful that something good will come out of this. The healing process will be slow and painful. We will all grieve and go through the healing process in different ways. The degree to how we will feel the pain will vary but I think we will have been changed by this incident in some way or another. In the next few days, even weeks, as our community will begin to process and more information will come out along with the personal stories of the victims, we will all be reminded how connected we really are as a community. Personally, I expect stories from my UCSB colleagues and students who interacted and even developed relationships with the victims, our students. I am grateful, and not surprised, at the level of response of our university in our efforts to help students and those affected cope with this tragedy. Minutes after the shooting occurred, several of my student affairs colleagues went back to campus to offer counseling and provide information.The Candlelight Vigil held last Saturday evening, an event led by students, organized by many, and attended by thousands showed how quickly our community can come together and work as one. The outpouring of support from UCSB alums through social media, student affair colleagues from other universities checking in to see how we’re doing have been really helpful as well.

I have long considered UCSB as home since I came here as a student in 1991 and when I turned professional. It’s a place I thought I could get away from, leaving the university twice, but I felt the need to come back. It just feels right here, professionally and personally. It’s during these unfortunate times that I know, what I have here is more than a job. It’s part of my life. My wife and I both have spent half of our lives here. The students I get to work with and get to know, my colleagues I come to respect and value, and the pride of being a Gaucho — these are the reasons why I’m still a part of the UCSB community.

“Everyone in IV please stay inside right now.” This was a status update I saw on Facebook at approximately 9:30 pm on Friday, May 23rd, 2014. It was from a student I just recently met a few weeks ago through our Filipino-American student association at UCSB. A flurry of updates from other students soon followed urging others to stay inside and an alum visiting Isla Vista posted she saw “a guy bleeding to death…”. I could never have imagined this horrible event could ever happen at UCSB. This has been a crazy few days. Tragic.

I end my thoughts with this – we’re a community. As a community, I know we’ll support each other. We’ll be there for each other.