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Getting to know Yale leaders - Ryan Schlagheck
August 22, 2019
Ryan’s career at Yale began in 2012 as Program Director for the Workday@Yale Program. Ryan oversaw one of the most significant initiatives undertaken at Yale in recent years; transitioning Yale’s core human resources, finance, and payroll systems from Oracle EBS to Workday’s enterprise cloud environment.
Presently, Ryan leads Institutional Reporting and Analytics, and oversees the services and technologies supporting the University’s data integration, reporting and analytical needs across Human Resources, Finance, Research Administration, Student, Facilities, and other data domains.
Ryan’s teams, led by Kathleen Broderick (Reporting), Greg Locke (Data Architecture) and Maureen Velazquez (Data Governance), source, organize, secure and make data accessible to and consumable by University administrators and decisions makers.
Ryan was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Italy and Germany before returning to the United States to attend college at Penn State University to pursue a degree in Management Science and Information Systems.
Ryan lives with his wife and four children in Guilford, where they enjoy team sports, musical endeavors and the outdoors. A dedicated cycling enthusiast in his free time, Ryan heads for the woods to mountain bike, the mountains to downhill or tinkers in his garage, building and fixing bikes. Read on to learn a few interesting facts you may not know about Ryan.
What was your first job?
I cut the lawn for a local business. I was about 10 years old, living in Pisa, Italy. It was the first time I used machinery and handled gasoline, and I remember the feeling of being responsible for something for the first time. I have made sure my children have the same experience, teaching them early about responsibility and doing their best work. As a side benefit, I now have a pretty awesome in-house grounds and facilities crew!
Favorite childhood memory?
I have many. One that comes to mind is riding my BMX bike around the monuments and ruins in Pisa. A few of my friends and I would spend time riding around town and doing wheelies at the base of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Freestyle BMX was gaining popularity in the U.S. but was still a fringe sport. In Italy, at that time, no one knew what it was, so it was probably a bit of a spectacle now that I think back on that.
What are some of your hobbies?
When I’m not out on my bike, I enjoy team sports and running. My kids keep me active, playing soccer or basketball. I was a goalkeeper in high school and college, so I try to spend some time each season coaching the goalkeepers on my sons’ teams. More recently, I started running as a way to exercise in the winter months when days are short, and I can’t get out on the bike after work. After a particularly hard day in late February, I decided to take a run around the campus before driving home, to let the traffic clear out a little. By the time I finished, I had run a little over a half marathon around New Haven. I had never run anything close to that distance before.
What was your first bike (and what happened to it)?
It was a 10-speed traditional 1970s road bike. One year, I helped a family pack up to move, and for helping them they gave me one of their bikes. I rode that bike until I outgrew it. These days, I buy the parts and assemble bikes myself, and maintain the family’s “fleet” of bikes.
What is your idea of a great weekend?
Traveling with my family somewhere off the beaten path, with no agenda or itinerary. I would like to go someplace in the world we haven’t been, spend time with the locals and get an authentic feel for life in another part of the world. A relaxed meal, enjoying new foods and lots of thoughtful, quality conversation is my ideal family time; that’s my Italian upbringing showing through!
What was the best advice you ever received and from whom?
There are two pieces of advice I’ve blended together which have helped to shape who I am today. The first was from the chief information officer of my former employer. He said, “Don’t tie your self-worth to things that can be taken away.” A few years before that, a family friend said, “You spend the first half of your life amassing things, and the second half giving them away.” These really helped bring things into focus. What’s fulfilling for me is how I spend my time and who I spend it with.
What is the biggest challenge working in IT today?
Making sure there is alignment toward shared goals across the entire organization is a big challenge. Ensuring there is a shared understanding of the priorities, maintaining alignment to the priorities and adjusting as priorities change, is critical. True alignment ensures that the solutions we provide continue to meet the needs of those we serve.
Words of wisdom for people thinking of a career in IT?
Hmmm. I think people who are naturally inclined toward customer service will find lots of opportunities in IT. I see the IT industry making a shift from a “next big thing” and “bright, shiny object” focus to a more customer-oriented focus. Some of the most successful companies today leverage technology to maximize the customer experience – I’m thinking of Instagram, Amazon, Tesla – and these companies use technology to deliver the entire customer experience yet the technology itself is in the background, rather than front and center.
If you weren’t working in information technology, what other job would you have?
When I started college, I was planning on pursuing a major in political science with plans for a career in foreign service. At that time though, the information technology field was booming, and I had an interest in that industry as well. Foreign service still interests me, and I continue to entertain the notion that it would be a great opportunity to do some work in public service at a federal or global level.