Monday, November 24, 2008

getting my life back, but not really

The last month been spending finalizing our paper for the Leadership program I've been involved with in the last year on Change Management in Energy Efficiency Computing. It was a really challenging research topic on how to create change at UC Berkeley. Considering I had spent alot of my undergrad years wondering how change happens on a large bureaucratic campus, and now 10 years after graduating participating in a project that looks into that very topic.

For Berkeley it comes at a timely occasion. As the campus looks to conserve funding and expenses, plus has pledged to lower green house gasses, finding ways for the campus to adopt technology faster helps on both ends.

I have to say that I lucked out on this topic and the group I was with. While I don't think the group was adverse to conflict, we also weren't prone to arguing for the sake of arguing. Maybe it was because it was a tangible topic or that we had so much work to do and so much data to cover we just didn't have time to argue. In all it was a very good balance and in the end I wouldn't have wished for a better crew to work with.

I was team lead for the last two weeks which left me with leading the group to get the paper to the copier and get our presentation ready a week later.

Our presentations for all the papers went really well. Some comments from our sponsors who were the VC Administration, VC Research, and the CIO of the campus included that they thought the 5 year plan was "doable" (that was great to hear since we had never done a 5 year plan for the campus), but that we gave them things that they could do right now. One of them even printed the flow chart that we created on how IT change happens on the campus and had it in his pocket with him. Plus we got through the presentation with plenty of time to spare for questions. I was assigned the shorter presentation part on explaining the technology to a non-techie crowd, and the thinking on the fly part of Q&A, as we anticipated that the crowd might ask more techie questions, which they did.

The Assistant Chancellor as well as much of the Chancellor's cabinet was in attendance. I remember in undergrad how I didn't know any of the names of the people who actually run the campus and how their realm was such a foreign concept and here I was presenting to them and pondering how they think and what kind of information do they need to know. The Assistant Chancellor came up to us later heaping much praise on how she was amazed at our transformation from just a year ago. She was our program mentor for a few of us.

All in all, probably one of my best days I've ever had working at UC Berkeley. I was telling a friend I felt like something has changed. He replied, it really changed a year ago. Heh. I guess it did change a year ago, it's just taken me a while to get used to it and finally feel the actual change in motion. The day of presentations was the first time I had felt like I had a career instead of a job. I've certainly known that since becoming a manager I've been seeing a different side of Berkeley, a much more exciting side where I get to work with an even larger range of people.

The group is going through a bit of withdrawal, figuring out what to do with all this spare time and figuring out how to get back into doing our regular work. Fortunately for me, my group is actively involved with a couple of the implementations so this paper has gone from research to reference guide, which is exciting. Getting a chance to test out what we came up with, plus being involved with a project that really makes an impact both economically and environmentally for the campus is quite satisfying.

All those years of community organizing and campaigns in the end was change management, so it's funny, how I feel like this is a new beginning for me, yet coming full circle and heading around for another turn. Year of the Rat is always an interesting year of surprises.

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