Core Value: Tenacity
Curt Carver's thoughts on Tenacity
An essential component of any ITS professional is tenacity. Almost every project we undertake has uncertainty and the potential for unexpected setbacks. It is not because of a lack of planning – it is simply the nature of our very complex and often time-compressed business. The ability to work through these setbacks, to persevere and achieve success, is tenacity. Some will argue that at the highest levels of academic leadership, tenacity is the most important attribute of a successful leader.
This argument originates from the precept that many have good ideas but few have the tenacity to take those good ideas and persevere to the point that the good idea is implemented. It is a lesson for all agents of innovation – everyone has ideas but real leaders and innovators must have the tenacity to see those ideas through to fruition.
Finally, tenacity means taking care of yourself and your subordinates. I know that sounds odd but real change occurs over time – it does not happen overnight. I cannot tell you the number of leaders who arrive in a combat zone and burn out in 30 days because they are working 18 hours a day and not taking care of themselves. They became ineffective for the remainder of their tour. During those highly stressful times, the ability to engage in physical activity, read a book, and over time get enough sleep became critical in their success. The most successful soldiers maintained a healthy tension between work and self and achieved a balance between the two that in today’s modern world remains elusive for most.
“Tenacity is a pretty fair substitute for bravery, and the best form of tenacity I know is expressed in a Danish fur trapper's principle: The next mile is the only one a person really has to make."
Powers Exemplifies Tenacity
Harold Powers exemplifies the ITS core value of tenacity in his position as a business systems analyst IV with GeorgiaVIEW.
“Harold is a Jack of all trades,” said Barry Robinson, director of GeorgiaVIEW. “The community and the rest of our team rely daily on Harold’s knowledge and troubleshooting skills.” The entire GeorgiaVIEW Team worked exceedingly hard during 2012 to meet very aggressive deadlines, and Barry said Harold’s sheer tenacity allowed him to dig into the project and learn the new learning management system (LMS), Desire2Learn. “He instantly became the guru for the rest of the staff,” said Barry. “The Desire2Learn migration was Harold’s fifth major LMS implementation, and his self-guided tenacity really made the project successful.”
Many of the solutions that GeorgiaVIEW offers require collaborative efforts from across ITS and the USG institutions in order to implement. These opportunities allow Harold to continually learn and refine his methods. Harold said that working at ITS gives him an opportunity to support the University System of Georgia in collaboration with other teams at Information Technology Services, along with a network of dedicated campus professionals statewide. This tradition of teamwork makes his job a pleasure.
According to Barry, Harold has been around the state of Georgia and distance education for a long time. He said that Harold has an extremely outgoing personality and is typically at the center of any event he attends, adding, “We are very thankful to have Harold as a member of the ITS team!”
Harold said he gets excited about his job because “being a part of the GeorgiaVIEW Team and knowing that we are helping to reshape the future of education for the citizens of Georgia is very satisfying to me.” He also added, “I love my job because it presents different challenges and issues to resolve every day. I can use these opportunities, not just in the short term, but to further refine and enhance the GeorgiaVIEW service for all USG institutions.”
Harold has been a member of the ITS team for more than three years. He holds a master’s degree in education from Georgia College and State University. Prior to joining ITS, Harold was a project manager at Georgia State University.
Thanks Harold for your continued commitment to ITS!
Zeng Shows Tenacity
Cindy Zeng exemplifies the ITS core values of tenacity and accountability in her position as a systems analyst developing GeorgiaFIRST PeopleSoft, Financials Data Mart (FDM), and iStrategy applications at ITS.
In December 2012, Cindy accepted a challenge to learn, troubleshoot, and execute the technical process to get GeorgiaFIRST data archived, which was last performed by a consulting resource several years ago. This task is in line with our current data archiving strategy. Cindy demonstrated tenacity throughout the test cycles and was solely on point and accountable for the execution in production. She didn’t flinch when told that the maintenance window involved two Saturdays and one Sunday in holiday-hectic December.
“Thoroughness and attention to detail are persistent in Cindy’s work so she was a natural fit for data archiving, which she executed flawlessly,” said David Nisbet, director of Administrative Services. Cindy has been a member of the ITS team for almost six years. She holds a master’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder, and a bachelor’s degree in economics/business administration from Jilin University in Jilin, China.
Why does Cindy enjoy her job at ITS? “I enjoy my job because of the people I work with every day. Each member on the Administrative Services team possesses a particular combination of skill sets, yet each has a great sense of team work,” said Cindy.
Cindy mentioned whenever an issue comes up, no matter how hard and urgent it is, there is always a right member with the right skills to tackle it, and in the meantime, all others are willing to help no matter what. She values the teamwork and treasures the friendship developed with her co-workers “I don’t get bored working on this team,” said Cindy. “We maintain the financial system, troubleshoot customers’ data issues, create financial statements and reports for the central office, and make sure dollar amounts on employee expense reimbursement checks are correct. We have Oracle and SQL Server databases. We operate on Unix and Windows systems.”
Cindy works on the day-to-day transaction data, as well as with large data warehouses to support strategic decision making. She also works with interactive reporting tools to help individual institutes’ analysis. “This team has covered such a big ground. Every time I receive a task to work on, there is something I’m not familiar with that requires me to learn. It is this challenge that keeps me excited, and it is every resolved issue that makes me learn new stuff and gives me the great sense of achievement,” added Cindy.
Thanks Cindy for your continued commitment to ITS!
The GeorgiaVIEW Team — Tenacity in Action
The ITS GeorgiaVIEW Team provided an example of tenacity when Blackboard, a product that enables universities to host classes online, released a security bulletin announcing a vulnerability which allowed a student to view a course’s full grade book by manipulating the course URL.
Although the vulnerability was limited to viewing grades and did not involve the ability to change grades, this was still a serious security concern. When the security bulletin was released, GeorgiaVIEW was in the midst of testing a Java Runtime Environment (JRE) applet error patch which was planned for application within a week. But clearly, the security patch took precedence. While Blackboard provided a patch to correct the reported vulnerability, the GeorgiaVIEW Team needed to verify that the patch would work and also verify that the vulnerability existed for GeorgiaVIEW users.
Blackboard’s policy is not to reveal specifics of security vulnerability so as to attempt to limit potential exploits. However Ezra Freelove, one of the GeorgiaVIEW database analysts, identified two potential URLs and successfully replicated and confirmed the issue. That same day, the GeorgiaVIEW team verified the vulnerability, applied the patch to a test environment, and verified the fix. Maintenance windows were successfully scheduled with campus representatives in a very short timeframe and the update was applied during the regularly scheduled maintenance period.
During the next week, the GeorgiaVIEW team completed testing the JRE patch and began applying it during regularly scheduled maintenance times. Although this patch resolved errors that were only annoying and not performance affecting, the optimal experience of the GeorgiaVIEW user is the team’s highest priority. Barry Robinson, interim director of the GeorgiaVIEW functional team adds, “The team has done a great job juggling multiple initiatives all while adapting to the departure of Doug Hyche, [the former director of GeorgiaVIEW]. I’ve been very impressed with their hard work and dedication.”
The GeorgiaVIEW team is comprised of a nine member team, who provide GeorgiaVIEW functional support to 31 campuses as well as three database analysts on the GeorgiaVIEW technical team, and draws upon the talents of ITS employees in Network Support, Systems Support, Strategic Communications, and the Project Management Office.
In addition, the team includes the 108 GeorgiaVIEW administrators in the University System of Georgia and more than 60 agents at the Presidium Learning Online Support Center who provide support for faculty and students using GeorgiaVIEW Vista.