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EDUCAUSE 2011 Speaker Spotlight: Carlyn Chatfield, Manager of IT Technical Communications

Posted in Knerds on October 3, 2011 by

As a lead-up to this year’s EDUCAUSE conference, we’re interviewing some of the speakers who will be sharing their knowledge and experience at the conference. It’s our hope that these interviews will spark conversation and give conference attendees a better sense of this year’s speakers.

Carlyn Chatfield is the Manager of IT Technical Communications at Rice University. She and four other IT leaders are conducing a session at EDUCAUSE 2011 entitled “Effective Project Deployment: Six Steps to Keep Them Coming Back.” Carlyn was kind enough to answer a few questions via email about her role at Rice, EDUCAUSE and more.

For more EDUCAUSE-related posts, click here.

1.What do your day-to-day responsibilities entail?

Managing IT communications for Rice is both interesting and rewarding. Today, I distributed a message about a service that was temporarily off-line, continued refining plans for an undergraduate study break to raise awareness about IT services and support for students, designed a student newspaper ad about the new mobile app for our course management tool, and helped create a web site for information about a security initiative.  I love being the connection between our technology gurus and our customers!

2. What was the inspiration for your presentation on Effective Project Deployment? Without giving too much away, why do you think IT leaders and project managers should concern themselves with the “business value” of their projects?

Many of us in the EDUCAUSE IT Communications constituency group work in positions that were created in the last 5-7 years.  Because our role is a relatively new one, we are always interested in helping administrators learn how they can leverage our experience.

As far as inspiration, Dana Hoover at Pepperdine said it is “everyone’s job in IT (not just the CIO or VP) to communicate the value of IT to University administration and to the end user community.”   We can easily communicate IT value through the projects we facilitate for the university, so this is a logical starting point to successfully influence our peers’ and leaders’ perceptions about IT. In today’s environment, IT projects must be both efficient and effective. I believe that good communication is at the root of both values.

3. What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in the process of implementing IT changes at Rice?

All of us are resistant to change to some degree. For example, I still struggle with our growing adoption of ITIL best practices; I thought “my way” was working and wondered why I have to learn something new and different.  More recently, I realized I am good at my job because of my attention to detail, but I don’t see the big picture.  Two of our directors looked at the big picture and saw how implementing ITIL could provide a cohesive platform for growth – something that was missing when each individual was singing “My Way.”  Communications play a strong role in ITIL, so as the communications manager I need to get with the program!

4. Since you’ve presented at Educause before, do you have any recommendations for first-timers (presenters and/or attendees)?

Join an Educause Constituency Group (CG) and find out when they meet! Connecting with colleagues who face similar challenges and opportunities is one of the most important aspects of the conference.  In addition to our CG meeting during the event, a lot of the IT Communicators try to meet casually at meals during the conference.

5. What’s your favorite part about EDUCAUSE?

In the past, it was our IT Communicators Supper Club, but I’ve heard EDUCAUSE has added a “lounge for CGs” this year. That sounds ideal for those of us who want a quiet place to chat about specific issues but can’t make meal meetings due to conflicts with other EDUCAUSE groups or teams.