Diane G.

Systems Architect, Systems Administration — ISC Technology Services
Portrait photo of Diane G.

ISC service(s) or programs/projects:  Active Directory, Azure, Active Roles Server (migrating on-premises services and servers to Azure-hosted ones)

Length of time in ISC:  Joined Penn and ISC in 2009

Previous work experience:  Nine years in law firms doing systems administration and Exchange administration. Before that, I worked at Salisbury University in Maryland doing desktop support. .

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

I was one of the core people involved in consolidating 13 separate mail systems on campus — that was 18 months of diplomatic and technical effort. Many Schools and Centers were used to running their own systems, so a lot of negotiations were required to agree on standard procedures. The implementation was certainly a success. And there were a lot of good lessons learned in the process of innovating within Penn’s IT ecosystem.

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

Putting a greater emphasis on security! We implemented a lot of required security protocols that had not previously existed in the Active Directory space, and spent time educating and working with clients to enhance security in their environments. Based on joint analysis, some of our clients were concerned with potential security vulnerabilities, and we helped to take proactive steps to address and mitigate them. We definitely got positive feedback about it.

What do you like best about working with clients?

The O365 project gave me exposure to clients across the University, allowed me to develop relationships with sysadmins in different Schools and Centers, and build credibility with them. I was glad to learn how things are set up in their environments. When clients have questions or need recommendations, it’s very gratifying to come up with solutions together. Understanding how centralized or distributed their own environments are helps me to know how to approach them. It’s also exciting to see the level of talent all across the University.

How has the pandemic changed the way you approach your role?

Until we went full-time remote, I didn’t realize how much my in-office days guided my work-from-home days. My in-office days were my meeting days, good for brainstorming and collaborating, and then my work-from-home days were when I locked myself in a dark room and implemented all the things we had agreed upon. So I had to shift my thinking from treating my work-from-home time as pure productivity to expecting interruptions and meetings. It’s all sort of blended now. And meeting everyone’s pets online was really cool.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

Woodworking! I’m not very good at it, but I still have ten fingers, which is Goal Number One. I aspire to make a proper desk. The first things I made were drawers for my bathroom, using invisible joinery with dowels. And they work! I also hope to make a media stand out of old-growth mahogany that used to be my front steps.

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

I really enjoy doing digital forensics and post-incident analysis. Working backwards from an incident requires both rigorous logic and also intuition — and a lot of caffeine. Also, I started my career teaching kindergarten. (No, I have no idea how I ended up in IT, either…)