Meet a USAC Member: Heather Mitchell
What department do you work in and what is your job title?
I am the Associate Director of Cloud Services in VU Information Technology.
How long have you been a Vanderbilt employee?
What has been your career journey to lead you to where you are today?
I was planning to get a PhD and teach English! But I realized the tenure grind was not for me. I had always been interested in computers, and it just so happened that someone I knew at a college in South Carolina had been trouble hiring a PBX administrator and cabling tech – not quite pure computing, but certainly adjacent. They were willing to train the right person, I was not afraid to crawl under buildings to fix structured cabling, so it worked for both of us. I’ve always enjoyed learning, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to broaden my portfolio ever since then; I’ve administered servers, databases, applications, email, been an authentication engineer, a virtualization engineer, and managed teams. That breadth prepared me well for my current role, as cloud services like AWS and Azure cover all those things and more!
What do you enjoy most about Vanderbilt? (i.e. missions, benefits, views of sustainability, community, etc.)?
My colleagues are by far the best part of working at Vanderbilt. They are caring, engaged, intelligent people who believe in and enact community in the best sense of the word.
What is the greatest bit of advice a parent or mentor has given you?
Be careful about competing for prizes you don’t really want.
What is one important skill every person should have?
Curiosity. It’s often seen as an attribute, but I think it’s a skill we can cultivate and hone. Get curious about what’s around you and what’s within you.
What is the best perk you have ever had at a job?
Work from home, absolutely. It’s hard to imagine going back.
Do you feel like you have a good work/life balance?
Right now, yes. That has not always been the case.
What do you enjoy doing to relieve stress?
Playing guitar, reading, hiking, woodworking
Are you more productive at night or in the morning? Do you think it is possible to change and get used to a new schedule?
I tend to be most productive around mid-morning through mid-afternoon. I think we can change our schedule, but our peak productive times won’t really move much – we’ll just be more or less able to benefit from them.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
An astronaut. Then I learned you had to be 5’2.
If you could visit any country with no budget, where would you visit?
India. Fascinating history and culture.
What has been your favorite vacation you have ever been on?
My wife and I spent 10 days driving the ring road around Iceland in 2018. It was incredible.
What is something on your bucket list?