The Influence of True Leadership in the Educational Space

Sue B. Workman, Vice President, University Technology and Chief Information Officer at Case Western Reserve University

Sue B. Workman, Vice President, University Technology and Chief Information Officer at Case Western Reserve University

Sue B. Workman, Vice President for Information Technology Services and Chief Information Officer of Case Western Reserve University, has had more than three decades of experience in a broad range of functions within the field of Information Technology. In her role at CWRU, Sue is responsible for creating the vision and strategies which enable the delivery of technology solutions that support Case Western Reserve University’s mission of teaching, learning, and research and the day‐to‐day functions of the university. As a member of the President’s Cabinet and President’s Council, Workman participates with university leadership in order to help accomplish strategic campus goals and support the mission, vision, and core values of CWRU. Additionally, Sue serves on various boards for First Mutual Holding Company, EDUCAUSE, and DigitalC.

In an interview with Education Technology Insights Magazine, Sue B. Workman, Vice President, University Technology and Chief Information Officer of Case Western Reserve University, talks about how leadership in the educational organization helps to foster both a positive and motivating culture for staff and a high-quality experience for learners. 

What are the challenges impacting the education space lately? 

In higher education, everything from just retaining the value of a higher education degree to ensuring that our students are well prepared for the existing job market is a really pressing issue today. In order to solve these problems, we need to think about doing things differently and making greater efficiencies by questioning the status quo and the beliefs and practices that have been driving higher education for hundreds of years. It’s time for us to take a fresh look at things and see what we can do differently to benefit our students, faculty, and our staff.

It’s time for us to take a fresh look at things and see what we can do differently to benefit our students, faculty, and staff

How do you really get the change going at your organization?

Before implementing any change, the first step should be to align your stakeholders and strive to acquire buy-in and include them in the change activity, whether it’s technology or anything else.

Before making a key decision, we try to include a variety of audiences such as our top-level administrators, representatives from the faculty, staff, and students. This is effective because, by the time we finish implementing the change; key stakeholders have access to detailed information, making it easier for buy-in and the rollout. Furthermore, a great deal of communication is essential to ensure that the modifications carried out add value to the jobs and make work effective.

What are some of the trends projected to have a massive impact in the next 24 months? 

In today’s scenario, change is happening at a quicker rate, and possibilities are appearing at an even faster rate. But change for the sake of change is not an option. We are focusing on innovation that makes things better and functions well, which can be difficult not only from the user’s perspective but also from the perspective of the IT organization. So in order to cope with this change, one has to be very agile. For example, robotic process automation, or RPA, may benefit us in a variety of ways, but when people hear the word “robot,” they often associate it with job loss. On the other hand, RPA helps individuals accomplish repetitive activities over and over again, freeing up time and energy for tasks that require higher-valued thinking.

Furthermore, being on the bleeding edge, we will see students with new opportunities since there will be more advanced ways to educate and study using technology. If we can make things a bit easier and less expensive, we’d be able to deliver more user-friendly environments for our faculty, staff, and students.

What would be your piece of advice to your fellow colleagues and peers?

My first piece of advice is to embrace technology and enjoy it, as well as encourage your employees to do the same. Allow personnel to try out new technologies, acquire new skills, and see if they can benefit your institutions. Secondly, for every institution, it is critical to find out what is needed in order to serve their individual audiences. Lastly, service delivery could be enhanced if institutions could join together at times in order to both impacts and influence the market or perhaps even share the cost of getting some things produced. We don’t benefit from higher education by replicating the same development in multiple institutions. Perhaps we will begin to work together more to benefit all. 

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