Eero H.

IT Manager, HireIT — ISC Client Services
Portrait photo of Eero H.

ISC service(s) or programs/projects:  Leadership Support Team (Penn Executive Offices), Hire IT Knowledge Base

Length of time in ISC:  Joined ISC and Penn in 2019

Previous work experience:  Upper Merion School District supporting 1,200 end points and 300 staff. Before that, employed for 8 years by Apple as a Genius and staff trainer for all Delaware Valley stores.

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

In March 2020 we were all told we had to shift everything we do on campus to our homes. So how do we do all the great things we do at Penn in a new way? For my team, it was how to go from face-to-face assistance to support via “teleporting”, using phone, email, remote login — and developing the social skills to make clients comfortable and confident we were there, and they could reach out to us. Thanks to our colleagues in ISC and across Penn, we were able to extend technologies like VPN and video conferencing that had not previously been widely used. And then Penn had executive changes. At one point my team and I were supporting an interim president, and incoming president, and a prior president all at once. It was all a bit of a blur, but we did it.

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

When I entered IT, it had a reputation for compartmentalized knowledge. One person had a specialty and somebody else a different one. There was a lot of separation between the IT person and the client. An interesting technical problem is how to share knowledge to bridge those gaps. How to have a learning environment that everyone contributes to. I sometimes joke that I help people run computers, I don’t help computers run people. This device in front of you is useless without you. So my challenge and mission is empowering people to understand more about tech, make it a thing they can trust, as well as trusting their IT support person — to help people learn more about tech in a way that’s accessible to them.

What do you like best about working with clients?

Making someone else’s day makes me happy. At Penn, I know that even in small ways, making someone’s day could have a big result: Getting international students here safely. Working towards a cure for cancer. Bringing mRNA vaccines into the world. If I can take a few seconds off someone’s troubled workday, it has an impact on those things. Rather than unintended consequences, I like to call them extended impacts. I don’t want little things to get in the way of those important missions. I get satisfaction out of making things easier for people.

What lasting effects did the pandemic have on your role and your work?

We have this shared experience — one that could be seen as overwhelmingly hard, negative, and challenging. How do we convert that into an opportunity to apply our creativity and ingenuity to a greater sense of shared mission, to do more with what we have? We have to be resourceful, and that means learning from other people’s experiences and applying the lessons. We have a lot to learn from each other. We’ve had to lean on each other more. The idea that “I can’t do this without the people around me” is better appreciated and more heartfelt now. I think we’re taking the time to learn more about each other’s personal stories. There’s a greater sense of working on any given problem together.

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

When I was in art school downtown I used to walk or bike through Penn’s campus from my West Philly residence and wonder, what would it be like to be here? Fourteen years later, here I am. There are a lot of things I like about campus — cherry blossoms, places to sit outside, the ebb and flow of energy with the changing seasons, the trans-generational community at Penn. And of course, there’s the food, the ICA, Annenberg — even rabbits that live on campus! Squirrels so used to people that they come up and say “Hi” to you. I’ve interacted with the campus for years as a staff person and as a Philadelphian. It’s a living gem in the city. And the extended campus, too — all the wonderful living, breathing things in the world that Penn preserves.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

I’m passionate about making art, dancing, and making music. I didn’t realize I could sing until I started singing to my first child. Now I’m singing with friends in an a cappella group for fun. I play the guitar, but I just got a piano — a lifelong dream — and I’m learning to play. I’m setting up a studio for art. I also want to make comic books — sequential stories with a visual aspect. I’m watching my kids grow and spending time outside when I can. I love movies. It’s a therapeutic kind of adventure to immerse yourself in the characters’ stories instead of your own for a while.

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

I like getting to meet people. I joke that I’m an introverted extrovert. I like to listen and learn from, and about, people. You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation, as Plato said — and if conversation is playful, it’s the best of both worlds. So I like to make training opportunities as fun and open as possible so people can use what they bring to them. That way we learn from each other. Also, I’ve worn a lot of hats: being an art student, owning a gardening business, rewiring chandeliers, bicycle touring, working in restaurants, being an Apple “Genius”. This life is really a wondrous thing. There’s a lot we can learn from each other, and that’s what we’re here to do.