Suresh Pandian, Director of Platform and System Administration, and his team of 30 manage several of Yale’s core infrastructure services. Services include Windows and Linux system administration, database and platform services administration, email, and collaboration tools and services. All of these services are heavily relied upon by the Yale community day and night.
If it sounds daunting, it is, but not for Suresh and his team. A firm advocate of top-notch customer service, he feels you should “never say no,” to a client even if it is slightly outside of your portfolio. His team is part of Yale IT’s Foundation Technology Services. Platforms they administer include the Active Directory (AD), Power BI, Banner, Yale Audio and Video conferencing service (Zoom), Microsoft 365, Microsoft Teams, and Backend DB of Data Mart, Hopper, Layer7, Talend, InfoEd, and TMS/BMS.
“I have a strong team; I’m fortunate, they work hard to ensure all of our services and applications are available to the Yale community 24/7. They keep me calm,” said Suresh. At Yale four years now, he spends his days meeting with application owners, ensuring needs are met, and constantly working with his team to make sure the services they support are serving their purpose and are always available.
Born in Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India, the eldest of three children, Suresh studied electronics and communication engineering at K.L.N. College at Madurai in Tamil Nadu. Both his siblings and his mother currently live in India.
Prior to Yale, Suresh worked for an Indian multinational information technology service and consulting company headquartered in Mumbai, Maharashtra, India. The company assigned Suresh different assignments for many years, which had him relocating every few years. He did stints in the Midwest, Southeast, and California. Tired of moving his family about, he researched job opportunities, applied to Yale, and settled in Prospect, Connecticut. Married with two college-aged children, Suresh is enjoying his work at Yale and living in the Northeast.
We met with Suresh via Zoom (one of the services his team supports) to discuss his career, never saying no, and celebrating Diwali.
What was your first job?
My first job out of college was as a system administrator in India. I managed the system administration part of their infrastructure services. Throughout my six years there, it was about the service-level agreement, workarounds, customer satisfaction, business impact, and continual improvement. It was there that I learned never to say no regardless of the client’s request. I always wanted to make the customer happy.
What did you learn from that job that still resonates today?
Never say no if someone is seeking help. For example, if a customer is looking for support and has a problem, and it may be out of your scope, don’t turn them down. Keep the door open to assist them. And by that, I mean even if you don’t offer the service they want or aren’t sure how to help, there can always be a workaround. I never say no to someone who may need help. I work with my team to find out what the issue is and try to get an answer. It’s a great reputation builder.
What do you enjoy most about working at Yale?
At Yale, relationships are key. Because I worked as a consultant and moved around quite a bit, I didn’t encounter this as much. But here, I see developing relationships with colleagues as key and a significant part of getting work done and initiatives off the ground.
Also, as an IT leader, I like that I have the freedom to do the right thing. I’m trying to make some positive cultural changes in my department. Change is hard for people, but I hope with my leadership and guidance, our department will continue to evolve. Yale is a great place to work. I want to make my department part of that experience.
Favorite childhood memory
My siblings and I always looked forward to the Diwali Festival each year. This festival of lights is usually celebrated in the fall and lasts about five days. Diwali symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.” But as a young child, it meant getting new clothes, eating lots of sweets, and a fun, colorful celebration.
What don’t people know about the Yale IT platform (that you can share)?
Our team offers what we call “full-stack” support. This includes system administration, middle-ware support, performance tuning, architecting, high availability and disaster recovery (D.R.), automation, and custom monitoring. It is the most interesting aspect of my job.