User FriendlyOsiris Guzman brings the human factor to information technology.
BY JEREMIAH CREEDON
LIKE ANY MODERN COLLEGE, St. Kate's relies on digital data to track its affairs. Osiris Guzman's job is to assure that information can be summoned with the click of a mouse. A software expert with a background in business and accounting, she is also a yoga instructor — which means she's not only qualified to fix a computer problem, but she can also keep the user breathing calmly until she does.
As the assistant director for application services at St. Kate's, Guzman oversees the eight specialists who maintain the data-related services for the administrative offices. Her group is part of an IT staff of 25 who maintain the digital side of St. Kate's from the McGlynn Computer and Technology Center in Coeur de Catherine, at the center of campus.
Guzman's unique skill set and 20-year tenure at St. Kate's have also made her a key figure in the Banner Project, a three-year effort to link the College's administrative functions into a system that runs off a common database. Named after the new "enterprise resource planning" (or ERP) software at its core, Banner has become the ERP system of choice for many colleges, including St. Kate's and its three local partners in the endeavor: Bethel University, Macalester College and Northwestern College.
Guzman, a member of the project's management committee, also led its technical team and assisted the finance and financial-aid teams through the transition to Banner, which is mostly complete.
"I was very proud and amazed over how we worked together," she says. "Even though we might have disagreed about how to deal with certain technical issues, we all listened and tried to help each other. The collaboration at the College was truly real."
Guzman's personal journey to St. Kate's started in Panama, where she grew up. Now 49, she is the youngest of 10 children, including three sisters, the two eldest of whom blazed the way to Minnesota by attending the former College of St. Teresa in Winona and then settling in St. Paul. When, years later, Guzman and her third sister were ready to make their own way to Minnesota, the principal of their all-girls Catholic high school recommended St. Kate's.
While her sister took that advice, Guzman chose Macalester instead, earning a bachelor's degree in economics and business administration in 1981. Given her major, Macalester seemed the more logical choice; but the apparent triumph of head over heart proved otherwise when she met Tyrone Guzman, a fellow student and her future husband. They have two children, Raquel and Francisco.
Her focus on computing started after a move to the development office. She later returned to human resources to run its information systems and has worked in the IT department since 1995.
Learning to breathe
Guzman's everyday contact with financial affairs inspired her to complete a second major, in accounting, this time at St. Kate's. Colleagues note that her grounding in business at least partly explains her unique ability to look at a software issue from the user's point of view.
Rapid change makes ongoing education a fact of life for knowledge workers, but it need not be narrowly defined. Seven years ago, Guzman first took a class for students and staff at St. Kate's in Kundalini yoga that has proven helpful on the job and in the rest of her life.
"I've learned not to panic when things aren't going right," she says. "Instead of getting worried or stressed out, I actually take my time and breathe, so I can make a more thoughtful decision."
After much practice and a year of special training, she now teaches a campus yoga class. Kundalini has been called "the household yoga" because traditionally it suited those who wanted to pursue a yogic discipline and yet remain active in the everyday world of family and work.
A few years ago, Guzman had the pleasure of helping her daughter move into St. Mary Hall. "Her room was right on top of where the Montessori school is, and we were laughing, saying, 'See, so it's come full circle.'"
Indeed. Raquel graduated from St. Kate's in December. Francisco will complete his studies at Macalester in May.
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