Dave T.

Software Asset Management Lead, IT Supply Chain — ISC ACIO
Portrait photo of Dave T.

ISC service(s) or programs/projects:  Software assets, internal and enterprise contracts, purchasing (including Brokered Products)

Length of time in ISC:  Joined ISC and Penn in 2002

Previous work experience:  Water park lifeguard in Ocean City, ice delivery driver in Sea Isle, grill cook in Boston, Drexel co-op

Tell us about a challenge at Penn that made you proud to be part of ISC.

I served as the project manager for the deployment of the first border firewall for the University. Before that, Penn was an open network. There was a reluctance to implement firewalls due to the open and collaborative nature of academia. But the Trustees pushed us to increase security, so a team was formed from several parts of ISC and from the Schools and Centers. The bigger challenge was the politics —getting agreement on rules for what traffic to block. The firewall’s been replaced several times since, but having established a good pattern of consultation, the governance has been effective and harmonious. I was happy to be the project manager to get that first border firewall in place.

What’s an interesting technical or business problem you’ve faced with ISC?

A good example of the value of being proactive is the contract with Panopto, used for storing and serving video-conference files. We originally paid per hour of viewing time, but since our use had been growing annually, we pitched for an unlimited model. As a result of our efforts, in February 2020 we signed an unlimited-use agreement. So in March 2020, when classes moved online, having that contract in place was crucial in allowing Penn to continue teaching uninterrupted. We would have spent $1 million per month in overage charges during the academic terms without the unlimited model, versus a fixed price in the low six figures. That was a real win-win for us.

What do you like best about working with clients?

The best aspect of working with clients is getting to understand their needs and learning how I can help them in my role. Not necessarily having the solution myself, but getting them to the right resources, whether internal or third-party vendors or suppliers as needed. That could be a contracted product set like Adobe, DocuSign, or Zoom. Or facilitating apps used across campus. For instance, we’ve centralized access to the Apple Developer Portal for apps created under the Penn name to be listed in the App Store, and a similar initiative is underway in the Google Play Console.

How do you stay connected with colleagues in our hybrid work environment?

I’m typically onsite five days a week. So I try to meet with folks when they’re here — and not in a work environment. I like to meet for coffee, lunch, or happy hour to see how they’re doing. Work is always there. When I get to see folks, it’s more about the people. Everybody here is brilliant, but I want to know about that person and what they’ve been up to lately. It’s hard to just drop in on me since I’m usually in meetings, so we have to be intentional. Even during lockdown, the supply chain group would meet for a socially distanced lunch in a park in decent weather. It’s the social connections that matter. The more we lose those, the more we lose the personality of the organization. They’re important to maintaining the culture.

What do you appreciate most about the time you spend on campus?

I enjoy my few minutes of walking from the parking garage to the office. It has always helped me center myself and be ready when I reach the office. Sometimes I need to take a walk during the day to recenter. I imagine how the people I see on a walk might be affected by our work. It re-energizes me to keep doing what I need to do for the job.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

I’m middle-aged! I realized five years ago that I need to focus—that if I take care of my health now, I will age well enough to enjoy life as a retired senior. So I’ve become passionate about it. It took a couple of years, but these days I try to work out three to five times a week.

What would you like people at Penn to know about you?

Send me your recommendations for retirement locations with reasons you chose them. My wife and I are compiling lists of places to investigate. I’d appreciate it!