It is hard for me to believe that I have been at Northeastern for a little more than a month. I have met with many people across the university to understand Northeastern’s ambition and how ITS can provide solutions to help pave the way. I am excited to hear about the initiatives underway, from online delivery models with the Lifelong Learning Network, to brand management with External Affairs, to a new framework and platform for experiential and integrative learning with SAIL.

I have met with members of the research computing community to understand how we can expand our efforts to better serve the faculty, both with our high performance computing cluster, Discovery, and in new ways by expanding our use of cloud technology. Our footprint at the MGHPCC is a strong asset in efforts to expand our research computing capabilities. Visiting that facility a couple of weeks ago was an impressive glimpse into the future of where Northeastern is headed. In my meetings with the Provost and our Vice President for Research, they have made it clear that they expect ITS to be aligned with a future vision for advancing research computing.

MGHPCC Partners on Display

One of my primary goals for aligning with the university’s mission is to create a mobile/digital/cloud first future for Northeastern’s ITS. I have come to learn in the first month that if ITS is going to help turn Northeastern 2025’s vision into reality, we must embrace new ways of thinking, new ways of doing, and new ways of organizing ourselves. I plan to spend much of the next 60 days accelerating that work.

I am also really excited about the initiatives we are implementing within ITS. I discussed my strategic priorities at our first all-staff event last month (which I really enjoyed). I hope it was obvious to all who were there that I would like to be as transparent a leader as possible, but that I expect some of the same in return. I will be putting together new ways for us to get together that I would like your feedback on, either here in the comments or the Coffee with Cole channel in the ITS Teams space. Here is a preview of a few I have been thinking about.

ITS Demo Days – I have discovered that our teams are working on some pretty amazing things in all areas of the organization. I also have discovered that while many of us are aware of things happening down the hall, few of us have the chance to really see and react to the work in a proactive sense. One of the coolest things Google does is to hold regular demo days where teams and individuals get to show off their work to the larger organization in hopes to drive awareness and cross-team problem solving.

Bagel Mornings – I’d like to start hosting a free bagel (and other non-carb items) morning with some degree of frequency in the 216 kitchen space. I love the opportunity for informal conversations and this seems like a pretty simple thing for us to do.

Coffee with Cole – I will be hosting my first sessions in the next few weeks. The delay has been all about waiting for the academic calendar to be set. In other words, I have to attend a lot of standing meetings within the Provost’s office and those don’t typically get scheduled until the August timeframe. I can’t wait for these to start!

We are continuing on a journey toward a culture of excellence in ITS. And I say that with all the humility in the world — ITS has done excellent work for decades and I am not looking to diminish that. When I say a culture of excellence, I truly mean a place that is always working to get better. I want us to be leaders in recruiting and retaining happy employees and that takes an ever-evolving mentality about who we are and how to treat each other. To this end, we are in the midst of rolling out a new staff development planning process that will help our staff members advance their skills and knowledge. And to make sure we are engaged in some of the most interesting work happening at Northeastern, we are in discussion to bring SAIL into the fray as part of our move toward a learning culture in ITS. Finally, it is one of my goals to find ways to better collaborate with the IT professionals around campus and bring them into the fold. We will be stronger as we think about all of IT at Northeastern.

While I’ve been actively pursuing these partnerships and initiatives, I haven’t been able to explore much of Boston yet so please share ideas about places to see and things to do. A highlight was an amazing evening at Fenway last week to see a Red Sox game (a 2-1, 13-inning walk-off win against the Phillies). Living in Chicago these last few years has taught me to appreciate historic places like Fenway and the friendly confines at Wrigley Field.

Perfect Night at Fenway

I’d love to hear from you. It could be your thoughts about Northeastern 2025, ideas for how we work together, or recommendations for a quick bite to eat in or around the South End or Back Bay. Leave a comment below, post something in the Coffee with Cole channel in our ITS Team, or find me on Twitter. I’ll continue to share my thoughts, news, and updates on strategic priorities in this digital space.

At the end of the day, the thing that has made me smile the most since arriving are the people that make up this organization. In all of my interactions, I have met passionate and engaged people ready to do the work to make Northeastern even stronger. I’m looking forward to seeing what my first school year in Boston brings!

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