Principal’s Awards celebrate staff members who go above and beyond
By McGill Reporter Staff
Traditionally, getting summoned to the Principal’s office has always been one of life’s more unpleasant events, triggering a host of physical and emotional reactions that – depending on the severity of the offence – run the gamut from anxiety to outright panic.
But on April 11, six McGill employees made the walk to Principal Heather Munroe-Blum’s office filled with pride, not dread. They were there to receive the annual Principal’s Awards for Administrative and Support Staff, a prize that acknowledges the exceptional efforts of McGill employees. Four individual awards of $5,000 were presented, one for each staff category: Management (Managers and Professionals), Clerical, Technical and Library Assistants, and Trades and Services. A $5,000 Team Projects award was also handed out. Here are this year’s winners:
Anne Billyard, MBA-Japan Program Administrator, Masters Program Office, Desautels Faculty of Management
Anne Billyard has a reputation as a caring and compassionate person, and this reputation was only solidified following last year’s devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The MBA-Japan Program Administrator went to great lengths to re-establish contact with McGill students who were in Japan following the disaster. She also worked with the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to keep incoming students, many of whom remained in Japan to help stricken family members or as a result of cancelled flights, on track. She was credited with getting the MBA-Japan program back up and running during this trying time, taking on the added responsibility of rearranging the entire teaching schedule to accommodate people who remained in Japan at the beginning of the semester.
“In trying to connect with students who were in Japan at the time of the disaster, I felt helpless being here and them so far away, but then I was amazed at how students and McGill alumni came together at this time of crisis,” said Billyard. “I was deeply touched by the support received from professors and colleagues.”
Technical & Library Assistants Category
Anna McNicoll, Safety Officer/Deputy Building Director, Faculty of Science , Dept. of Biology
As the Safety Officer/Deputy Building Director for the Faculty of Science’s Biology Department, Anna McNicoll works with students and researchers every day. Her courteous manner ensures a congenial and professional atmosphere, qualities that are useful at times when discussions over safety issues in the lab get heated. At a recent Department Safety Committee meeting, McNicoll, who has worked at McGill for over 35 years, brought up concerns about wearing earphones such as iPods while doing lab work. She worked with a student representative to develop an awareness campaign about the potential risk of wearing ear devices. “There are certain sounds in a lab that you should be tuned into to stay safe,” she said. “A disruption of typical background noises, for example a chemical fume hood which suddenly goes silent, might indicate a malfunction which could pose a safety threat.”
McNicoll also proposed to the Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) team that a myLab module be designed to track safety training data, important because training is required every three years. This system would help researchers to ensure that their teams receive up-to-date training.
Trades & Services Category
Michel Medeiros, University Services – Building Services
After close to 25 years at McGill, Michel Medeiros still enjoys coming to work and providing the best possible service to the occupants of the McConnell Engineering building where he is stationed. “This is like my second family,” he said.
Medeiros has earned the respect of both students and staff and takes responsibility for ensuring a clean and safe environment for McConnell occupants. During the November 10 events that occurred outside the James Administration building, right across from McConnell, he helped individuals who were trying to move away from the rioting.
His thoughts on receiving the award: “I never expected this; I thought awards were given only to those in high level positions. I was totally surprised, but I certainly value the recognition from my colleagues.”
Naomi Takeda, Administrative Assistant, Neurobiology Unit, Faculty of Medicine – Montreal Neurological Institute
This year’s winner in the Clerical category is Naomi Takeda, who has earned the nickname “lab mom” from students in the Neurobiology Unit of the Montreal Neurological Institute where she works because of her nurturing skills – be it supporting students or pitching in to lend a hand with grant deadlines. Once, while on a camping trip, the resourceful Takeda was able to resolve a pressing lab crisis, sending critical information by email as she managed to find a wireless connection nearby.
“I am deeply honoured to be acknowledged by my colleagues; this was a total surprise,” said Takeda. “I love my job and even after 14 years I still enjoy the challenge of dealing with the unexpected.”
Team Project Category
Romesh Vadivel and Kathleen Massey, Service Point Project Work Group and Service Point Launch Team, Enrolment Services, Student Life and Learning
For today’s busy students, time is a critical commodity, which is why they appreciate receiving multiple administrative services in a single location from a knowledgeable person who is able to manage each case through to completion. Enter Service Point, a streamlined service model that was designed to reduce run-around and to empower staff to solve issues more effectively while offering greater support. One-stop service has put decision makers on the front line and leveraged newer technologies, resulting in fast-paced improvements to the student experience.
This was a collaborative initiative bringing together services offered by six offices in four different buildings, with a working group and a launch team comprising 56 people from across the University. Through shared knowledge and skills, team members created a world-class service for students.
“The feedback we have received from students is that it is making a difference in their experience at McGill,” said Romesh Vadivel, Service Point Associate Director and Project Manager for phases 1 and 2. “We have come a long way in just two years and we are working diligently on many more significant changes ahead. To be appreciated for our hard work by our peers and by our students makes it all worthwhile.”