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Outstanding Individual Award Winners 2016

Aug 17th, 2016 | Posted In : Awards

Brian Szuberwood, Associate Director, Capital Projects, UPDC

Brian manages high profile complex projects as well as providing leadership to new staff and continued support to all staff. Over the past year he has managed the most difficult and problematic project in collective memory. While dealing with complex construction issues, mounting claims for additional costs and conflicting project objectives, he has maintained a leadership role as Associate Director providing coaching, support and direction to department staff. He does all this with an even and collegial disposition.

Congratulations, Brian!

 

Aris Manousos, Property Manager, Facilities and Services

One of Aris’ two nominators, Heather Taylor of Medicine, wrote:

“What makes Aris an outstanding individual? For those of us in Facilities Management & Space Planning in the Faculty of Medicine, it is this – he clearly cares about people and maintains and fosters a good collaborative working environment.

Aris Manousos exemplifies the qualities necessary for an effective and professional property manager. He knows how to get things done in a timely and cost efficient manner. He manages multiple highly complex buildings primarily occupied by the Faculty of Medicine, a demanding client group (we know!).  Is there a more complex building on campus than Medical Sciences? Mix classrooms, a 500 seat auditorium, laboratories including level 3 (there are only 4 levels), offices, comparative medicine, magnets (NMR), gross anatomy (yes, it’s gross) with cafeterias, coffee shops, 30 perimeter points of access, a busy loading dock and store, all with asbestos – you have the definition of complexity. Does Aris manage only this one building? No, he manages a portfolio of buildings! Add to this, CCBR, another lab building which happens to have with specialty bamboo garden and winter gardens (those wacky architects); 500 University (where the skin is peeling off); FitzGerald (historically designated), C. David Naylor (should be historically designated) and McMurrich.”

This sentiment was echoed by a member of our own Caretaking staff who also nominated Aris.

Congratulations, Aris!

 

Mike Clark, User Experience Designer, EASI/NGSIS, ITS

Our NGSIS User Experience Design Manager, Mark Johnston, had this to say of Mike:

“Mike’s passion and enthusiasm for doing great work is contagious. He cares deeply about creating quality outcomes for the people he’s designing for and cares equally deeply about the people around him.”

Mike Clark is a UX (User Experience) designer for the Next Generation Student Information Services (NGSIS).  Why was he nominated for this award?  Quite simply because many of the ACORN designs probably would not exist today if it were not for Mike’s relentless passion for creating the ultimate user experience for students.  Mike is deeply committed to his “craft” and to the University.  In September, he stood alongside the NGSIS booth for six hours and spoke to more than three hundred students individually over the course of the day about their initial experiences using the ACORN 1.0 service.  Several of the students whom Mike spoke to would later join up with the NGSIS UX Lab as testers for new enhancements.

Mike is a problem solver. He will go out of his way to help others find workarounds to technical roadblocks.  He does not shy away from the adoption of new design and development tools and has been responsible for incorporating several very successful applications into the UX team workflow. He is now planning the new ACORN mobile experience and a suite of new student financial planning tools. While Mike’s capabilities as a UX designer are renowned, it is his ability to unite the collective energy and creativity of the entire team in the development of new applications that sets him apart and we feel make him especially deserving of this award.

Congratulations, Mike!

 

Clayton Hillis, Manager, Beverage Services, Ancillary Services

As Beverage Manager Clayton has made an incredible impact on the Department of Beverage Services and how it is perceived and received on campus. Long gone are the days when they were considered overpriced bullies where departments feared that the servers would offend their guests in one way or another. Today Beverage Services runs a pretty tight operation where servers are trained in proper serving etiquette; have a strict dress code; and a code of conduct. With the majority of serving staff coming from our own student community you can imagine some of the obstacles of training that would need to be addressed (culture, language, and service).

His first priority is the License and the License holder. No matter what, they come first. Next is the University’s image. He will do the right thing.  He understands the importance of making a good impression especially when fundraising is involved. He has been known to alert an organizer that they are neglecting the attention of a donor. He has quietly stopped someone before they embarrass themselves; often in such a way that the person never really knew they had just been “saved”. He provides first aid when needed while at the same time having the foresight to get the organizer to shift the focus of attention away from the incident.   Clayton works with all levels of personnel in organizing events across campus. A lot of time is spent educating organizers as to why their original plans weren’t the best. He always tries to find a way make things work, even to the point of bringing in portable toilets inside a building when there is no other solution.   He respects the Beverage Services staff and listens to their concerns regarding events. He follows-up on any incident reported no matter how sensitive the subject matter.  Clayton has garnered the respect of many departments and many have said they feel he is a part of their team too.

Congratulations, Clayton!

 

Christine Beckermann, Business Intelligence Officer, EASI, ITS

Christine’s nominator, Brenda Boschoff, wrote:

“Christine must be the most inspiring person I have ever worked with.  I have worked with Christine for approximately 3 years and continue to be impressed with her facilitation skills, her service orientated approach and her commitment to the University of Toronto as a whole.  She truly cares about delivering outstanding service to the University.  She is always respectful to whomever she deals with and manages to juggle the many calls on her time extremely efficiently.  She really listens and is able to prioritize work appropriately without making anybody feel less important.

Christine quietly gets services up and running on weekends and after hours to lessen the effects of downtime.  Her mentoring skills are outstanding.  Christine has taught me so much over the last 2 years and has never made me feel like it is a chore for her.  Her patience is commendable.  She is always willing to share her knowledge and works hard to improve existing processes to enable the team and systems to function efficiently.  She changes with the times and implements new technologies as needed.  This usually comes with a learning curve that Christine tackles without complaint.  Christine manages to stay calm and even-tempered during high stress times.

She really is quite stellar.”

Christine is currently on an exciting travel leave and will be back in November, so we will present her with her award then. In the meantime, congratulations, Christine!

 

Muhanad Sidek , Project Manager, UPDC

Muhanad’s nominator wrote:

“Muhanad has, over the past 12 months, been responsible for managing $200M TPC value spread over 5 major, complex projects, one of which returned a surplus where a deficiency was previously predicted. He engages actively in process improvements which benefit his colleagues and the department, and regularly finds ways of effecting cost savings.  Muhanad has been with project management for eight years, starting as a coordinator and quickly moving to Senior Project Manager. He willingly helps his colleagues and is always available to support, mentor and assist other staff. This is in addition to shouldering a much greater than average work load.”

Congratulations, Muhanad!

 

Jeff Waldman, Senior Research Analyst, Planning & Budget

Jeff’s nomination reads in part:

“I am nominating Jeff Waldman in Planning & Budget for his outstanding work in 2015-16 to translate the Interdivisional Teaching (IDT) Framework agreed to between Arts & Science and Engineering into a detailed and updateable implementation model.  In addition to challenges with the complexity of developing a model, Jeff also had to deal with limitations in the University’s datasets. By working in a fully transparent way, regularly communicating with his colleagues in the divisions and using reliable and trusted datasets, Jeff successfully navigated this environment and was able to achieve agreement from both divisions on the data and his work. This is a particularly commendable achievement given the sensitivities involved.

Throughout the development, Jeff demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and a positive, solutions-oriented perspective. He successfully tackled a very complex problem while maintaining a focus on quality and a willingness to work with others. As a result of his work, the University now has a scalable IDT model that can be used annually to determine revenue sharing under this first agreement and for future agreements as they are negotiated. He has made a significant contribution to the advancement of a fully informed IDT framework that is being profiled at conferences in the US and considered by other Canadian and American universities with similar budget models.”

Congratulations, Jeff!

 

Sarah Hinves , Senior Planner, Campus & Facilities Planning, UPDC

Sarah’s nominators wrote the following about her:

“In four months of 2015, from February to May, our office underwent major staff changes including maternity leave, secondments and an annual planned leave. Sarah, who was just coming back from mat leave herself and juggling life with two young children, took on a tremendous amount of work, most notably, in providing a leading role in the Landmark Project. Starting out as a competition, there was no template for this project, and Sarah has continually demonstrated an openness to working as a team in stepping up to new challenges along the way in creative ways. The Landmark Project has involved coordinating and managing a huge amount of internal and external stakeholder consultation with the consultant team (more than ever before on any other project!!!), planning multiple open houses, and disseminating and responding to ongoing feedback.

Similarly, the work towards creating a new secondary plan for the St. George campus has been far from straightforward, and Sarah has demonstrated continued dedication to this effort.

Sarah’s  long-term institutional knowledge, made her the go-to person for information, assistance and advice over the past year and she has actively promoted more teamwork, and mentorship within the office.

For her huge amount of effort, she is deserving of the Outstanding Individual Employee Award (and probably a vacation as well!)”.

Congratulations, Sarah!

 

Will Heikoop, Academic and Collaborative Technologies Group, ITS

Will Heikoop has shown an outstanding commitment to service in support of the Online Learning Strategies (OLS) portfolio since he joined our small team more than three years ago. The university has been ramping up instructor capacity in this sphere across a range of activity domains and this requires agility, responsiveness to faculty and learner needs, and resourcefulness in finding the right solution to meet curricular and pedagogical goals in a dynamic landscape, all of which are the hallmarks of Will’s approach to supporting the projects undertaken by a diverse range of instructors.

He is a patient and capable mentor, enabling both the ground-breaking pioneers and newcomers to online technology to reach their goals. Will excels at tactful communication and relationship building, with a calm approach that wins the trust and confidence of instructors and staff alike. He can be a quietly capable team player, or present to a roomful of people with ease. On many occasions, when a MOOC or an online course instructor faced a “crunch” situation, Will has stepped up to facilitate a “fix. He is able to artfully prioritize those activities that will have the greatest impact on the frontline online teaching and learning experiences across our divisions and academic program areas.  Finally, Will is conscientious and exceeds expectations through his flexibility in accommodating the unique requirements of online learning, going above and beyond, taking on new tasks and responding with enthusiasm to the unpredictable and the unexpected challenges and opportunities encountered within the OLS portfolio.

Congratulations Will!

 

Ernie Lopez

Manager, Classroom Technology Group, ACE

Ernie’s nominator writes:

“Ernie does an outstanding job both as manager and coordinator the activities of the office.  He is always on call and readily available to assist faculty, staff and part time workers.  He is in charge of Con Hall Convocation and many other services across campus including technology installations across the campus.  He has proven to be an invaluable resource to get things done.   He is direct in his response to issues and follows through on details.  He is an unsung hero of the University who deserves to be recognized for his 43 years of devoted service.”

Congratulations, Ernie!