Category Archives: Career

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)

dream_bigSetting big dreams is fun, isn’t it? My wife and I commute to work together and there are days when we talk about all the possibilities ahead of us. We figure it doesn’t cost us anything and if we’re going to dream anyway, we’ll dream big beyond our imaginations and beyond our realities as we see them now.

Personally, thee last few months have proven to be fruitful so far. Some of what I consider Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) have come/or in the process of becoming realities. BHAG is a term I came across from the book called “Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins. The idea behind BHAG in this book is that visionary companies used bold and daunting missions to stimulate progress. I just recently read the book so I didn’t know this term even existed but it seems the goals I had set for myself would qualify as BHAGs. They may not be audacious goals for other folks, but these goals certainly are for me.

These personal BHAGs may not have been in the form I originally envisioned them to be, but nevertheless, they’re close to what I had in mind. In addition, some of these goals are personally scary for me. I figured I will just have to conquer my fears as I come across them. Another important note – these goals needed the help of other folks to make them happen! Without folks who believed in me and the ideas themselves, they would have never happened.

Here are some of my BHAGs that have become realities:

SA_Exec_TeamA seat at the Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) table in my role as IT Director.  I became a member of my campus’ Student Affairs Executive Team in December. In this blog post, Case for Technology Leadership at the SSAO Table, I wrote about the values of having someone in a senior technology management role at the table who can bring technical expertise and perspective as strategic decisions are made.

A campus-wide IT leadership/management professional development program. With the support of our new CIO Matt Hall, we have begun planning for a campus-wide program to promote community-building as well as leadership/mgmt and technical training for IT professionals. Along with our CIO, we have a team consisting of IT Directors as well as HR managers that’s in the process of formulating our goals and program activities. This is an idea I had proposed on this blog post – Cohort-Based IT Leadership Program for Higher Education.

NASPA Technology Knowledge Community (TKC) Chair. This is a position that seemed out of reach for me and one that I may not be qualified for, given the significance and scope of the TKC. However, as mentioned in this post (Sharing Our Vision at #NASPA16: Updates from the TKC Chair), I think I can contribute to advancing technology in student affairs by broadening the scope of conversation and those involved in the discussions through the chair position.  With the help of an amazing team, the community members, and the current chair, Lisa Endersby, I can’t wait to see what we’ll do in the next couple of years!

A webcast on student affairs and technology. A couple of weeks ago, the opportunity to do a webcast finally happened with the webcast “What AVPS and Mid-Level Professionals Need to Know About Technology” with Eric Stoller and Stephanie Gordon. It was a challenge for me given that I am not always sure of how much I know about the topic and how I may come across on a live discussion when folks are watching from all places.

joe_before_afterLose 45 pounds in 10 months. Never in my wildest dream would I ever thought I’d accomplish this. After all, I’ve tried in the past to lose weight, but for various reasons, I just couldn’t make it happen. Here is a blog post, How I lost 20 Pounds in 3 Months, of what I found to work (written three months after I started the weight loss attempt).



As I had mentioned, my wife and I have a list of BHAGs and those shall remain a secret to us and who knows if they’ll ever come to fruition. It is fun though to work towards them and to think about the possibilities. Professionally, I see the next three years as potentially significant for me. With a mixture of luck, preparation, and with the help of many folks – I do hope they’ll happen.

What are you BHAGs?

Photo of goldfish with shark fin courtesy of:


My Professional Reading List 2015

thumbAnother year of professional growth and learning. As a significant of my time went to my MBA (IT Mgmt Specialization) course work in 2015, I was not able to devote as many hours to reading about other topics I enjoy such as higher education and student affairs. Nevertheless, I still managed to enjoy reading the books below. As it was with my professional reading lists of 2013  and in 2014, the majority of the books below are kindle books I read through my iphone and ipad. The beauty of mobile learning. Please feel free to ask me for any recommendations.

Business & Productivity

Change and Innovation

Higher Education / Student Affairs

Information Technology





Technology Responsibilities & Qualifications for Senior Student Affairs Officers

If technology is an essential component of today’s student affairs organizations, how is it that out of the 21 Chief Student Affairs Officers (CSAO) and Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) positions posted on I reviewed today (11/29/2015),  only 1 job posting has the word “technology” in the areas of responsibilities and qualifications?

I reviewed the job postings because of my curiosity on how technology is perceived by student affairs organizations today. I think about student affairs and technology daily because of my role as an executive director for a student affairs IT organization. My curiosity is further driven as I think about my recommendations for a recent external program review of a student affairs and academic affairs IT department and as I think about how the recent inclusion of technology as a professional competency as part of the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators by ACPA and NASPA could shape the future of technology in student affairs. In addition, I’ve been thinking about how to develop a framework for student affairs organizations to adopt, implement, assess and evaluate technology.

Technology in student affairs can be viewed from many perspectives. For one, technology should be treated as a set of investment that can enable organizations to be more efficient, more effective, and can transform how they do business. As an investment, technology also needs to be managed holistically from an enterprise level, and not as disconnected and silo-ed systems.From this perspective, technology management and leadership requires senior student managers to be thinking about sustainable funding, governance structures and processes, and staffing. Technology as a set of resource to be managed is an idea I discussed in the article “CSAO as Information Technology Manager“.

Another view of technology in student affairs is the effective adoption and utilization by student professionals towards their duties as educators who responsible for student learning, engagement, development, and career success. The description of the technology competency is the following:

“The Technology competency area focuses on the use of digital tools, resources, and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development, and success as well as the improved performance of student affairs professionals. Included within this area are knowledge, skills, and dispositions that lead to the generation of digital literacy and digital citizenship within communities of students, student affairs professionals, faculty members, and colleges and universities.” (Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs, 2015, p. 33)

The description above as well as the outcomes stated for the technology competency area acknowledges the essential role technology plays in student affairs.

In addition, I was reading a book recently called Designing for Learning: Creating Campus Environments for Student Success  which also highlights the impact of technology to student communities. One of the chapters discusses “digital forms of human environments as they apply to the post secondary educational setting and focuses on the design and potential of these new technologies to effect the inclusion, security, engagement, and experience of community among students.” (Strange & Banning, 2015, p. xii)

Given the significance of technology in student affairs based on what I shared above, it is then puzzling to me as to why all of the job postings for senior student affairs officers positions I reviewed today, except for one, had no mention of technology as part of the responsibility and/or requirements.

I do think technology leadership needs to be present at the highest level of student affairs organizations. At the minimum, CSAOs cannot abdicate their roles as information technology managers and they must either develop the skills, knowledge, and dispositions as described in the new technology competency area and/or include a position that can provide leadership to lead the effective adoption, utilization, and assessment/evaluation of technology in student affairs. Here are two ideas to consider:

What roles and responsibilities should CSAOs/SSAOs have with respect to technology?

Note on the cursory review process of the job postings:

I  did a search on using “Vice President Student Affairs” and the results returned 606 records but I reviewed the job postings that contained what could be considered SSAO and CSAO positions (Vice President, Associate Vice President).  Some of the postings provided a link to the institutions’ job boards but I limited my review on the description/requirements as posted on the website itself.


Be Mindful About “Conventional” Career Advice

I was speaking with a recent graduate who, after two years in the workforce, is exploring the possibility of going back to pursuing a Masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education. She was very concerned about the idea that because she didn’t go straight from undergraduate to a Masters program, the conventional path, that would reflect negatively on her when she does apply. As she was telling me this, I just had to smile because I was reminded of how early on in my career, several folks, well-intended, offered me advice about staying put in one place because going from one job to another will not be seen positively when I apply for jobs. I wasn’t following the conventional career path. In retrospect, my experiences in the start-up, corporate, and in higher education have provided me with a varied perspectives that have helped me appreciate and assess the realities of my job. I am glad I chose to listen to my instinct and not pressured into pursuing the conventional path I was advised to take.

Just as I believe industry best practices do have values in improving organizations, one must be cognizant of the fact that there are local contexts that needs to be considered when applying best practices. Local factors like tradition, politics, personalities, and other organizational constraints cannot be ignored. I liken best practices with the conventional career paths I was advised to pursue early on in my career. Just like best practices, advice about conventional career paths must be taken with some caution. I realized that early on in my career that’s why while I politely listened to the conventional career advice I was given, I knew I had to consider my unique experience, my background, skill sets, and aspirations. The folks giving me advice were successful in there own ways but there were challenges I faced as well as strengths I possessed as a first generation immigrant Filipino-American. My personal attributes and circumstances are analogous to the local contexts I mentioned above. Even beyond my personal attributes and background is that today’s economy and job skills have significantly changed from decades of the past.

In this world of every so dynamic workplace, how much of what’s considered conventional career paths are even applicable anymore? In the past, folks stayed in one job their entire lives but I’ve read many articles, including this one, that job hopping is the “New Normal” for Millennials. I wonder how many of younger professionals and students are still receiving career advice by well-intended senior professionals that are based on their experience a couple or more decades ago?

Personally, the prospect of where I may be in my career ten years from now is exciting. I don’t know what careers will be available for me and in our field in student affairs in the future. I suppose the best advice I will cautiously provide to anyone asking for career advice is to continue learning, be open to possibilities, and study trends that may provide some clues on where we may be heading. In other words, prepare for a career yet to be invented.

What are your thoughts on this topic? What conventional and so unconventional career advice have your received in your career?


Personal Recap of Western Regional Career in Student Affairs Day (WRCSAD) 2015

I attended the Western Regional Career in Student Affairs Day at UCLA this last Saturday, Oct 17, with the UCSB’s NASPA Undergraduate Fellowship Program (NUFP) team. This was an opportunity for our undergraduate students to learn more about student affairs as a profession and to meet other students and professionals in the field. I also attended to be a panelist for a session on Social Media in Student Affairs. As it was with the previous years I have attended, I left the conference with a sense of renewal and commitment to my role as a student affairs professional. The event was well planned, the sessions were informative and the speakers were all knowledgeable. I sensed those involved in the planning and those who participated a deep commitment to serving students and to learning about student affairs. Beyond the learning was also the fun moments getting re-acquainted with friends and colleagues I interact with through social media as well as meeting new friends. Here are some of the personal highlights (I can remember) of the conference:

Dr. Sumun (Sumi) Pendakur‘s keynote speech (“The Personal, The Political, and The Professional”). Dr. Pendakur delivered a dynamic speech about the intersections of her personal upbringing and her profession. As she said, “we all come from somewhere” and so she spent some time introducing her parents, specifically her dad, and how their experiences informed and shaped her world views and her activism. She shared her personal story because as she said, “personal narrative informs our work we do.”  She spoke about our obligations as student affairs professionals in serving all students and to promote success for all students, not just for some. She asked the question “are they graduating and thriving or are they surviving”? Dr. Pendakur also shared some strategies to get the most out of this conference and they are applicable to our daily work as well. For one, she suggests doing some relationship building – purposeful networking. In addition, she suggested self care/renewal. Conferences this size can be a challenge for introverts (like me) and it’s okay to find a corner some place alone to re-energize ourselves on our own. Lastly, she suggested pushing the edge / practice taking risks. Ask questions and challenge. We need to practice asking questions and we don’t have to be SSAOs to be asking questions. We can ask questions wherever we sit in the institution.


Reflections from Senior Affairs Officers. Four seasoned administrators (Dr. Jeff Klaus from CSU Long Beach, Dr. Sumun Pendakur from Harvey Mudd College, Dr. Suzanne Seplow from UCLA, and VP Henry Gee, Rio Hondo Community College) along with the facilitator Dr. Mink-Salas from Azusa Pacific University shared some really valuable insights on their experiences and they also shared important lessons.

Personally, watching two Asian American senior administrators on the panel was a welcome sight. As I wrote on this blog post, we need more Asian American mentors/advocates in higher education. The messages from all of the panelists were all valuable but the messages from VP Henry Gee and Dr. Pendakur spoke to me as an Asian American.


This session really made me think of where I am in my career and where I would like to go in my career. It was during this session when I had this “Eureka” moment of what my purpose in student affairs has been though I never realized what it was. This was to shape my institution and higher ed in general to best serve the interest of students!

The other important insight I got from this session was the idea that I don’t want to be pigeonholed as an “IT guy” because I’ve primarily been in student affairs IT for most of my career. I have always seen myself as student affairs professional who works primarily with technologies to promote student success and also one who has played several roles as an organizational advisor, mentor, FYE discussion leader, multicultural programming facilitators, etc. The challenge and interest for me has been on how to bridge the gap between IT and student affairs and in general, how to use technology more effectively within the context of student affairs. It is still my goal to be in a senior administrator someday to be able to solve the challenge I posed through a position of Dean of Student Affairs Technology, a role that does not yet exist. This role needs to be at the highest level in student affairs organizations sitting along side other senior student affairs officers (SSAO) table. As this role still does not exist, I continue to advocate that an IT director or one who is in charge of enterprise technology initiatives within student affairs need to be at the SSAO table.

Black Lives Matter in the Ivory Tower: Trials and Triumph in Navigating Anti-Racist Work session. This was a session that had been planned to be facilitated by a UCLA senior student affairs official along with a panel, but due to the on-going investigation of the “Kanye Western” theme party which involved racial overtones, Dr. Dougherty, the facilitator was not able to attend. Apparently, the other panelists from other universities were able to attend as well. Two professionals, Diana Victa from Cal State Los Angeles, and Patricia Nguyen from UCLA (and UCSB alum) effectively facilitated the hard topics of how to promote anti-racism efforts on campus and the barriers facing these efforts. Participants spent time sharing their thoughts about anti-racism challenges and opportunities at their own campuses. Undergraduate students spoke about the challenges of being expected and devoting time towards fighting for social justice while already facing heavy academic work. Some professionals spoke about their personal challenges and how they found their voices in the process. When asked why we attended the session, I shared that I wanted to learn about the topics and more importantly, to listen to raw and unfiltered voices from those who are impacted by racism. I shared that we don’t have enough spaces to have honest conversations about racism on our campuses. It was a powerful session, indeed. One of the comments shared by a new pro and a former student activist was the myth of resource constraint in response to the idea that we need to be patient in our anti-racism fight. as we can’t solve the problem in one day. As the attendee stated, “how is is that money somehow magically appears after a crisis and when the university’s ranking is going down and donors stop donating as the result of a crisis when students have been talking with the administration for a long time before the crisis.”


photo courtesy of Grace Bagunu

Social Media in Student Affairs session. I sat on a panel with  VP Henry Gee and Jennifer Rodil with Grace Bagunu as the moderator. We spoke about the role of social media at the personal, campus, and professional organization levels. As VP Gee shared, Grace was the first social media account manager for NASPA Region 6, and she was instrumental in getting VP Gee to use social media. Jennifer also credited Grace as her social media mentor. I personally met my co-presenters through social media first and have become friends since we met and so this session was a fun one to be a part of.

VP Gee spoke about why he joined Twitter at the urging of Grace and why he joined Facebook (to listen to feedback about his programs). He also provided important responses to questions from the audience on how to appropriately use social media as it relates to job searching and networking. Jennifer provided her insight on how she manages her department’s social media presence as well as strategies on promoting engagement with the NASPA Region 6 twitter account as well as the Instagram account. A question was asked by an audience member on how to effectively manage time spent on posting contents and managing social media accounts. Jennifer suggested having a schedule of postings and along with the schedule are the types of contents to post. I spoke about specific uses of social media at UCSB. I cited how I used facebook to share information about the status of our IT services during the power outage since our email server was out of service. Since we couldn’t send messages through our email server, facebook became the primary medium to communicate with our UCSB customers about the statuses of our services until we were able to have email service up and running again. The second example I provided was the significance of social media during a crisis. I specifically spoke about the tragic Isla Vista shooting on Mary 23rd, 2014. Social media became the medium for real-time communication (I learned about the shooting the minute shots were fired from students I advise through their facebook statuses), community building (show of support within the local UCSB community and across the globe on social media), and event coordination (series of events were held that following week along with a memorial at UCSB’s Harder Stadium attended by 20,000+).

I also spoke about the reasons why I blog including why I started (I was frustrated because I had a lot of ideas but I didn’t feel heard at my campus so my blog became a platform for me to express my ideas), what my purpose for blogging (promote student affairs technology and leadership), some strategies and tools I use, as well as how I address the common challenge of how to write authentically (I don’t share everything but what I do share are true to my heart).

Some audience members also shared their success stories including how they used social media on campus. One of the stories shared by the creator of the account was the use of twitter to inform students of food on the UCLA campus. The twitter account is called @hungry_bruin.

Several attendees spoke to the panel after the session for several minutes thanking us and to exchange other ideas.

Ethical and Legal Issues in Higher Education session. I was late to this session because of the last session but I am glad I attended as I learned some valuable insights from the panel which made me think about the value of understanding policies, making ethical decisions, and the increasing difficult choices to be made as one advances in the management hierarchy. The topics of institutional responsibility and ethics were discussed as it relates to things we probably don’t think about as ethical issues. As one of the panelists shared, staff don’t own the money used to run the university. Students are paying for the services and so when a staff comes into work late, they’re taking resources away from the students. A panelist shared his guiding principle when making tough decisions – “Did I follow the policy and did I practice fundamental fairness in the process?”

A topic also discussed was the issue of individual right and freedom of expression. As one of the panelist shared, one has the freedom of expression but they don’t have the freedom of consequences. As senior administrators, they must help frame the consequences of students’ actions in this term “I’m not saying you’re right or wrong but how is that being perceived? Is that the message you want to send out?”

The three sessions I attended were informative and they led me to reflect on my role as a student affairs professional and how I view my role at my university as well as my career path. In addition to the value provided by the sessions, the most valuable experiences I got out of the conferences came during the breaks and lunch. These were the times when I had the chance to connect with our NUFP fellows and mentors but also to re-connect with friends I have not seen in a while as well as to meet new ones. Attending this conference with my fellow and our NUFP team was a wonderful experience we could build upon to further develop our relationships and to learn more about each other.


UCSB NUFP Team (photo courtesy of Klint Jaramillo).

The conference was also an opportunity to connect with other Filipin@-Americans in student affairs. We started this tradition of taking a group photo at conferences starting last year and this photo below is a part of that tradition. It was nice finally meeting other Fil-Am professionals I met via social media face to face for the first time.

Pin@ys in Student Affairs

Pin@ys in Student Affairs (photo courtesy of Grace Bagunu)