Mayumi H.

Sr. IT Project Leader, Unified Communications — ISC Technology Services
Mayumi H. portrait photo

ISC service(s) or programs/projects: Oversee Penn Video Network (PVN) campus video television, biweekly all-staff live-streaming, campus live-streaming (e.g., Commencement, Silfen Forum, New Student Orientation virtual events, etc.)

Length of time in ISC:  Joined ISC in 2001 and Penn in 1997

Previous work experience:  Penn C’97, Wharton School, then College Houses.

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

In 2020, Comcast decided to discontinue CATV to move to streaming, challenging us to switch classrooms and public spaces to ethernet streaming set-top boxes. This required lots of close collaboration across campus with people I’d never worked with before. Comcast threw all these last-minute technical demands at us. Everybody on our transition teams was just amazing. I never knew ISC had so many superstars! The feedback from users has been very positive. For instance, we brought on WXPN radio. They had always worked with an outside vendor, so when they heard they could use an ISC service, they jumped at that chance.

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

We used to have our own streaming server, but it could only handle connections from within Penn. In 2011, Bono of the band U2 was our commencement speaker, and we realized we would need something to handle much more traffic. We had to work with RealNetworks to manage the extra bandwidth we anticipated. YouTube was in its infancy, and they had no built-in livestreaming, and it was definitely not free, as it is now. But we pulled it off, and eventually we integrated that external service. Written in pencil in the wiring closet door are the names of the commencement speakers that we livecasted. (Bono, 2011!)

What do you like best about working with clients?

I like helping them realize their vision in audiovisual format! For example, in 2017, the Penn Wellness flu clinic had a “Stranger Things” theme for their poster. They wanted to create a video “bumper” (like a short public service announcement video) to promote it. I logged into Netflix to watch the “Stranger Things” title sequence and adapt the typography and visuals for the short piece I made for them. One of the things I like best about working with clients is that I get to be creative while I’m fulfilling the mission of my department.

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

It’s been challenging to pivot to remote production and remote support of events. It has definitely made us think more critically about how services like livestreaming and webcasts can better support the needs and desires of clients, especially when it comes to engaging with students and alumni and other groups on campus. There’s been an increase in the use of video among campus groups who had not been using it. We’re engaging with them about how to share their messages and how to build an audience for video, when they had not thought about that before.

What are you passionate about in your free time?

Fiction writing! I write a lot of sci-fi and space opera. I also published a thriller novella a couple of years ago. It was interesting to go through that process with editors and beta readers to find the strengths and weaknesses of the book. A guilty pleasure is that I also write a lot of fan fiction.

My husband and I are also very passionate about trap/neuter/release programs. Our current live-in cat is a rescue we took in from the street.

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

One of the things I love about the position that I’m in is that I can help people communicate with each other. I wish more people knew that I’m here so I can help them spread the word about what they are passionate about. Video doesn’t have to fall into formal categories. I can help, and I like to do that sort of thing.