ALT Panel Q&A

These questions were submitted to the Leadership Forum. Questions 1-12 were answered live and recorded in Part 2. Questions 13-17 are referenced below.

  • 1. What topic/topics do you focus in your own professional development? (Time Stamp 2:05)
  • PETE ANGELIS (H&H): I find Coursera and EdX to be exceptional sources of information.  It is remarkable that lecture series can be followed from many of the top universities in the world, for free and at your own pace.  I’ve taken a course on “Financial Markets” from Yale and “Introduction to Law” from UPenn this past year and am currently enrolled in two programs on Emotional Intelligence from Berkeley and Innovation in the Social Sector at UV.  I also recommend getting an Audible account to get access to business related books and other non-fiction sources of information.  The one book per month pace keep you from being stagnant and not continually growing personally and you’re your professional skills. I’ve been a non-fiction audio book junkie for over 25 years.

    KELLY SCHMADER (FM): I subscribe to TalentsmartEq.com emails, about 1 every 2-3 weeks, that provide excellent articles from Dr. Travis Bradberry about EQ tips, and I share the most relevant ones with my team.  I have 70-80 of these short articles in my "library" and have provided a few of my favorites in the Resources slide to give you an example of the usefulness of this information.
  • 2. What is your plan to increase diversity in management and senior leadership? How do you support women or under representative staff in career or project opportunities? (Time Stamp 5:50)
  • LUCY AVETISYAN (ITS): To achieve diversity among staff and leadership, we need to evaluate our current systems, approaches, and processes. I am excited that DEI is top of mind for the Administration Leadership Team, and we now have an Equity Advisors Council that will guide this work. 

    In addition to supporting the Equity Advisors Council agenda, some of my priorities for IT Services include introducing programs to advance DEI-related competencies, setting DEI expectations in our leadership positions, and making DEI a core element of performance reviews. In addition to creating a mentorship program, I am excited to partner with HR and integrate DEI-related content into position descriptions, postings, and interview processes, as well as integrate intentional DEI efforts into our sourcing and recruitment processes. 

    I’m excited to share that at IT Services we’re have made that initial step in making DEI a core part of our performance reviews. All senior leaders now have a DEI performance goal for this review cycle. The goal is to create an inclusive and equitable environment by supporting DEI initiatives and integrating DEI-related professional development for our managers and individual contributors. 

    DEVIN DILLON (PREK-12): Administration has a new initiative, Equity Advisors, with each department having a representative to support the goals of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion for UCLA and across Administration.  The Equity Advisors are working with each department to think about how to attract and retain diverse candidates for management and senior leadership positions.  

    LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): These are key questions. We recently established the Equity Advisors Council for Administration to work with hiring authorities to develop strategies and processes to increase diversity and ensure an inclusive environment in all departments. Part of their role is to share best practices across the organization. Also, the training and development programs offered by CHR and OED have a strong record of supporting a diverse pool of participants, so we highly recommend considering those opportunities. 

  • 3. How would you recommend long term staff members to increase earning potential or advance in career? (Time Stamp 11:08)

  • TONY LEE (UCPD): Managers should mentor and develop employees.  Take an interest in their goals and share expectations of assuming a leadership role.  Help prepare them for promotional processes by hosting "how to prepare for interviews" seminars.

    KELLY SCHMADER (FM): I believe one of the steps includes coming to grips with the fact that advancement may require a move outside your current unit and/or department.   My experience is that many employees restrict their view of advancement opportunities to their existing unit, in some cases their existing job, or at most, their existing department. It is a big campus. Staying put in your current position and not seeking other opportunities that can beef up your resume and “toolkit” will not contribute to your advancement.

    LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): I would recommend that you look for opportunities outside your comfort zone, either in your own department or beyond. Volunteer for a project on which you will be learning something new. This will be a challenge and will involve some risk-taking; however, it’s also the best way to grow your career and demonstrate your potential beyond your current role.

  • 4.What are the biggest changes and/or challenges you see for our campus as we begin to return to what is being called our "new normal"? (Time Stamp 16:37)

  • MICHAEL BECK (ADMINISTRATIVE VC): Having people readjust to coming to work in person.

    CHARLES TURNER (F&OS): Some of the significant challenges faced by higher education in general include: 

    -Shift towards life-long learning,
    -Hybrid learning (online and on-campus),
    -Education affordability, and
    -Equity across the university.

    Each of these drivers will have a large impact on learning. A major challenge for UCLA Administration is managing a campus during a period of uncertainty and great change.  UCLA and other universities will experience tremendous fluctuation in stakeholder preferences over the next few years and having an agile workforce and organization is critical.  Ensuring that our managers are developing and honing their analytical, technological, and communication skills to be resilient and innovative leaders is a great challenge and opportunity.

    COLIN DIMOCK (EH&S): I see a number of different changes that we will be facing as we start to shift back towards campus and beyond.

    For the next few months, we will be facing all of the complexities of restarting many campus operations and retooling spaces and operations to meet the new hybrid remote/in person model.  Our staff is going to have to change their schedules, their habits, and their expectations for day-to-day life.  Many of them have been avoiding outside contact and will now be faced with the anxiety of working face to face with others.  Childcare will have to be worked out again.  New tools and meeting structures will have to be implemented.  It will be just as much change as when we left campus a year ago, but with an added fear of leaving behind the practices we adopted to feel safe.  It will take a great deal of compassionate listening and management flexibility from all of us to get through this.

    As we settle in, we will be faced with the challenges of maintaining our departments without the same level of face-to-face contact that holds our culture together.  We will have to watch carefully to ensure that those who are primarily telecommuting do not get left out because they are not able to participate in the short, but very meaningful encounters we have each day.  We will have to find the right balance of flexibility, fairness, and work effectiveness.  We do not know how to do this yet.  It is not the same as what we have been doing with the majority of people working from home because they have had to.

    For UCLA research, we have already seen a shift in interest to pandemic related studies.  Our High Containment Biological research facility has been driven beyond capacity over the last year with COVID research and we will need to expand these facilities and our capabilities to keep up.  Researchers have been monitoring the wastewater on the hill to give us early awareness of positive cases.  New ideas created by this pandemic are leading to new research across campus and in the field in biology and pathology, public health, social science, psychology, and the fine arts.  My office, EH&S, will have to ensure that this new work can be done safely.

  • 5. What does the future of telecommuting look like? Will telecommuting be allowed for more than one day a week occasionally? Will we have a new remote work agreement in place by July 1? Will the new agreement allow telecommuting employees to live out of state? (Time Stamp 28:23)

  • LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): Yes. We are introducing the concept of FlexWork, which goes beyond telecommuting:  it includes various options, such as remote work; hybrid approaches (with some days on site); and alternate schedules. Departments will determine which options will work effectively depending on the functions and services they perform. Working out-of-state may be possible for some positions; again, this is not one-size-fits-all and flexibility is encouraged. A FlexWork agreement and guidelines are now available.

  • 6. What tools are available to measure employees’ productivity, specifically hourly employees providing customer service, when they are working remotely? (Time Stamp 32:03)

  • LUCY AVETISYAN (ITS): We currently do not use any tools specifically for measuring hourly employee productivity. Most of the IT Services' hourly employees are in the field services, help desk, desktop support, or data center operations. The data center operations team works on a defined set of tasks, and staffing is primarily for coverage. The other groups are driven mainly by work orders, phone calls, tickets, etc. Here the supervisors gauge productivity by the numbers and complexity of the tickets and cases worked.

    There are many tools on the market and we can certainly partner and explore the best solution for us.
    One challenge with measuring productivity is that different jobs can have different metrics. For that reason, it's essential to establish specific KPIs for each of the roles. We can certainly manage productivity outside of employing tracking tools. What becomes critical is discussing and agreeing on expectations and choosing measurable KPI's.
    If our hourly employees understand what is expected and know exactly how success will be measured, we then can focus more on results instead of time spent doing the work. 

  • 7. What are YOU going through related to pandemic and associated changes in the work environment? How are YOU balancing work/life responsibilities amidst the increased demands of pandemic operations? (Time Stamp 34:21)

  • PAUL ABRAMSON (CTO): Maintaining a work/life balance has been difficult working from home.  The commute to work typically will provides boundaries as to when “work” starts and stops.  This didn’t occur during the pandemic and I found myself working more and having a harder time transitioning from work time to personal time.  I have become much more intentional about when I stop working for the day and then do something to transition to home life – a short walk, exercise, read for a bit – anything other than checking my emails.  

    DEVIN DILLON (PREK-12): As a working mom of two school-aged kids, it’s been a challenging year of managing their remote schooling and working full time to meet the changing guidelines for returning the children in PreK-12 programs and schools to in person learning.  One of the ways I have found helpful to balance life and work is to set boundaries for times where I am available to my family.  I set aside time each day to turn off the email, make dinner, connect with my kids and ask them about their day.  Taking walks has helped a lot too and even now being back on campus, I’ve found that taking small breaks from the screen, getting outside and talking to staff in person has helped to keep me grounded.

    RENEE FORTIER (E&T): Every crisis presents an opportunity to rise to the challenge, and that is what we have done, both within my department and across units- making changes to provide remote service, institute protocols to protect the campus community, and leveraging the crisis as an opportunity to make permanent efficiency improvements.  It has been gratifying and rewarding to see how well and how quickly folks coalesced around problems presented and developed effective solutions, but the spate of problems has also been   challenging— and sometimes downright exhausting.  My garden has been a salvation when eight Zoom meeting days sapped energy —And a skinny orange kitten wandered into the garden early in the pandemic and has now become a fuzzy, plump, love-seeking constant companion who refuses to leave my side during days of back to back zoom meetings, meowing to get in if I inadvertently close her out of the home office while I am on a call.

  • 8. Is there any consideration to increase child care support for employees who are remote working/on a hybrid schedule? (Time Stamp 40:01)

  • DEVIN DILLON (PREK-12): Early care and education centers on campus continue to expand enrollment in alignment with county and licensing guidance.  Even with the childcare centers on campus, there is demand greater than we can meet with the centers at UCLA.  We are looking into ways to expand childcare offerings in alignment with demand, looking for creative solutions to support employees with the needs they have.

    LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): We recognize that the pandemic experience has been particularly hard on those working at home and taking care of children at the same time. The University has been generous in offering various leave options. Being a family-friendly employer is a key objective. In July, OP will be introducing two new programs: (1) “Paid Family Care and Bonding – it is for income replacement, not more leave time. For eligible employees, it covers 70% of earnings during FML, for up to 8 weeks per year; and (2) Adoption Expenses reimbursement. Communications about these new programs will be issued soon.

  • 9. How will the cleaning protocols change for fall? (Time Stamp 43:30)

  • KELLY SCHMADER (FM): We expect that by Fall, we will have returned to most, if not all of our pre-COVID protocols in terms of custodial tasks and frequencies. However, we also expect to continue with enhanced sanitation, such as daily cleaning of high touch points. We will also continue to have hand sanitizers deployed across campus, as flu season will be right around the corner.

    A major addition to our custodial workload has been the addition of departmental classrooms to our daily cleaning routine.  Pre-COVID, we provided daily cleaning of our 192 General Assignment Classrooms, but post-COVID, we have picked up daily cleaning of roughly 206 departmental classrooms. Viruses do not discriminate between general assignment and departmental spaces.   We will continue to utilize electrostatic spraying in those remote cases were a positive COVID case might be identified.
    We are minimizing trash collection in private offices and allowing building occupants to place their trash in centralized bins that feature 3 separate waste streams.  This is a sweeping trend in higher education, and will greatly assist us in achieving our challenging Zero Waste goals.

    And finally, we are increasing the number of bottle filling stations around campus while water fountain “bubblers” remain secured. For example, because the Law School is among the first to resume classes this summer, we recently installed 5 new hydration stations, 3 new bottle filling stations, and 1 new hi-low drinking fountain with a bottle filler attached.   
    All of our cleaning protocols will be fairly consistent with other universities, not just within the UC system, but across the country, as validated by APPA, our “Leadership in Educational Facilities” partners.

  • 10. Are their opportunities that arose out of the pandemic that could actually strengthen UCLA's brand and revenue streams in the future? (Time Stamp 46:40)

  • CHARLES TURNER (F&OS): Many opportunities arose out of the pandemic that can strengthen UCLA’s brand and revenues.  A few notable opportunities are:

    1. Research:  UCLA is closing in on another record year for research awards with over $1.4B received to-date which exceeds the prior peak set in FY20.  Research space will continue to be in greater demand.  Contrast this with the changes to office space and the move towards telecommuting and remote work.   These trends provide an opportunity to rethink space use and the associated services within Administration.  

    2. Pent up demand for experiences:  The June 2021 UCLA Anderson Forecast touted “robust growth” for the US and CA.  “The faster growth in services consumption reflects a release of pent-up demand for leisure and hospitality, recreation and deferred health care, and a return to prior trends in education and social services”.   Moreover, the economists project a significant shift from household spending on consumer goods to spending on experiences.  This should bode well for events and hospitality. 

    a. Events:  On-campus and sporting events could be in high demand in the coming years.  New ways of connecting remote individuals with campus experiences could present a new opportunity.
    b. Hospitality (Pete to comment)

    PETE ANGELIS (H&H): The sudden and extensive loss of business at the LCC and LAL required us to look for external business sources.  We’ve opened our inventory to Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) making our properties available to independent travelers, resulting in almost 10,000 room nights booked and over $1.6M in new revenues to date.  We’ll need this business to help us dig out of the financial deficit that we find ourselves in from the pandemic.

  • 11. What are the transportation options/ parking plans for fall/ van pool? (may be an option to talk about sustainability/ new behavior) (Time Stamp 54:08)

  • RENEE FORTIER (E&T): As we prepare for fall quarter and the anticipated return of students and employees to campus, UCLA Transportation is ready to meet the needs of our commuters with a range of transportation options. 

    For those continuing to work hybrid-telework schedules, daily discounted parking is an excellent option for those driving to campus fewer than 15 times a month. The daily parking option is available to all employees and can be purchased conveniently online through payroll deduction for as little as $6. Daily discounted permits can only be purchased for same-day use and should be obtained before arriving on campus through the Bruin ePermit portal.

    Please be aware that as campus operations increase, we anticipate a significant demand for parking and cannot guarantee available space in your preferred parking structure or lot with a daily discounted parking permit. UCLA Transportation also offers subsidized transit passes for seven agencies, including four commuter lines directly servicing the University. And because transit agencies across LA – include our BruinBus transit service – have enhanced cleaning protocols and safety measures, we’re certain you’ll be able to commute with confidence. 

    We encourage new transit riders to take advantage of our popular Bruin Commuter Transit Benefit, which offers eligible participants one free quarter with the transit agency of their choosing. Avoid the stress of driving and relax while enjoying the cost savings during your commute. Lastly, UCLA Transportation has recently partnered with private vanpool agencies to help those commuting from further distances. University members can form their own vanpools through one of the many providers servicing UCLA. For more information on the options shared today or for other sustainable commute choices, I encourage you to visit our website at transportation.ucla.edu

  • 12. a) How do you make challenging decisions and handle tough conversations? b) How can you help managers or frontline staff when making difficult decisions, especially when you may know implementing decision may be impossible (or unrealistic) for current staff? i.e., Project may take much more than 8 hours a day with current staff. (Time Stamp 56:55)

  • PAUL ABRAMSON (CTO): Challenging decisions - I start with a few simple questions – Does this decision align with our vision and strategic objectives?  Does it add value to our customers and/or clients?  Does it bring us closer to our sustainability goals?   Does it reduce costs or simplify a process?  I also ask one more question – If the impact of the decision I make ends up on the Michael’s desk or the Chancellor’s desk, will they understand and support the decision?  If the answer to these questions, is yes, then we move forward.  To me, the decision isn’t necessarily the challenging part.  The challenging part is two-fold – First, gathering the data and inputs to make the best and most informed decision possible.  Second and more importantly is implementing the decision because frequently decisions lead to change.  The bigger the decision, the more things change and the bigger impact to the organization.

    Tough Conversations – We all have a variety of tough conversations – with employees, with customers, with vendors, with our bosses, with our family, etc.  Be honest, be direct, then think through needs to be said and what the expected responses will be.I try to keep the emotion, if possible, out of the conversation.  Because of this, I try to avoid asking “Why did this occur?”  or “Why did you make this decision?”  Asking “Why” immediately puts the person on the defensive which is not helpful to the conversation.  I tend to ask, “What conversations, data or factors led to this decision?”  Doing this allows me to coach them in a more positive manner.  Don’t be afraid of having a tough conversation.  Often times, the stress we put on ourselves worrying about having a tough conversation is more than the stress of having the actual conversation. 

    TONY LEE (UCPD): When the situation allows for it, communicate decisions to managers before announcing it department wide.  Make sure they understand the reasons for the decision so it can be supported.  Have conversations in person.  Having tough conversations with people is always difficult, but it is what a manager needs to do.  People appreciate honesty even if it is something they don't want to hear.  It is how we grow as individuals.

    If implementation is impossible or unrealistic, that should be taken into consideration and additional resources allocated or timelines adjusted.

  • 13. VC Michael Beck said last year that CHR would be a primary focus. I understand COVID put a hold on things but what are his plans/vision for improving our HR?

  • LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): In addition to the FlexWork guidelines discussed at the Forum, there are two major initiatives underway in Human Resources:

    -Creating a Hub-and Spoke model for Administration, with identification of HR Business Partners in each department. They would participate in training and development activities presented by CHR in core functions, such as recruitment, employee and labor relations, compensation and classification, for example. The objective is to provide responsive client services while expanding the knowledge and expertise of those involved in HR matters.

    -Expanding technology tools in coordination with IT Services. This initiative is called HR Optimization, and includes both short-term and long-term goals:  a new Job Builder tool (roll-out has started at the UC systemwide level); an automated tool for calculating employment service credit; a new Applicant Tracking System to replace PeopleAdmin; and a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system.  

  • 14. When will overtime restrictions be lifted?

  • LUBBE LEVIN (CHR): Department heads determine when overtime work needs to be assigned to meet essential operating needs, and personnel policy provides that overtime needs to be approved in advance. There are varying needs for overtime work across departments in Administration. In consideration of financial circumstances during the pandemic, some departments have been able to limit the need for overtime by accomplishing their responsibilities within the timeframe of a normal work week. As the campus ramps up and reopens, departments will continue to assess the need for overtime and determine whether previous restrictions can be lifted.      

  • 15. Will there be an increase to the budgets from the State to maintain the buildings?

  • KELLY SCHMADER (FM): Unfortunately, we do not expect an increase in the State-furnished Operations and Maintenance of Plant (OMP) funding that is used to maintain our State-funded campus facilities.   However, in the coming fiscal year, there is significant potential for a substantial increase in the Deferred Maintenance funding provided by the State and the Federal Government.  These funds are used to repair or replace our most critical building system deficiencies, including roofing, elevators, HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems.   

  • 16. The framework of processes and procedures, based on law, that the UC has across all ten campuses, is not part of a curriculum that a manager must pass to maintain their position. Why not? I have found in the 24 years of service, not only do these documents serve to manage and protect the UC from liabilities, those that understand them can navigate our systems much quicker and make better management decisions.  

  • KELLY SCHMADER (FM): There is no curriculum in place for UC Facilities Managers to complete in order to maintain their position, whether it be for construction, maintenance, custodial or grounds services.   The UC overcomes any gaps in these areas through close collaboration with and access to campus and UCOP subject matter experts, as well as the periodic training provided by UCOP’s Capital Programs Institute and the frequent webinars provided by the UCOP Design and Construction and Office of General Counsel teams.   

  • 17. How can Geffen Academy be more involved in the planning, implementation, and contract negotiations with vendors? I'm thinking specifically about things like Zoom or Creative Cloud, where our minor students were not considered.

  • DEVIN DILLON (PREK-12): As we rethink the IT governance model for UCLA, we will look into how best to include Geffen Academy in our campus-wide IT procurement efforts.