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Wrong Deborah Scott?

Ms. Deborah Scott C.

Chief Information Officer

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Direct Phone: (508) ***-****       

Email: d***@***.edu

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

100 Institute Road

Worcester, Massachusetts 01609

United States

Company Description

Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nations first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the soci ... more

Find other employees at this company (5,873)

Background Information

Employment History

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Web References (28 Total References)

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Deborah Scott CIO Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Deborah Scott, CIO, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

On hand were: Mark Staples, VP ...

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On hand were: Mark Staples, VP and CIO at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston; Deborah Scott, CIO at Worcester Polytechnic Institute; Matthew Ferm, managing partner at Harvard Partners; Niraj Jetly, SVP and COO/CIO at NutriSavings; and Richard Kropp, SVP and CHRO at Blue Cross & Blue Shield.

FierceCIO spoke with Scott about her sense of the role of CIOs in promoting wellness among their staff, establishing proper work/life balance, and issues of diversity hiring in IT.
IT leaders share best IT culture practices
The forum brought together hundreds of local IT leaders, Scott noted. "We were talking primarily about being leaders of our own technical staff. But we also talked about technology to enable the workplace in general--for things like telecommuting and policies that organizations have regarding that type of work arrangement."
First up on Scott's agenda was the issue of wellness among IT staff. The topic is one that is near and dear to Scott for personal reasons and one that she places especially high priority on.
"One of the things that I brought up is that I think it's important as a leader to be a good example of how to have a balanced life," Scott explained. "Wellness is really important to me because in my 40s I had a health breakdown. It was when I was between my late 30s and early 40s that I realized that I couldn't do more by just sleeping less and drinking more caffeine. I had a health crisis and I realized that I needed to get on an exercise program to build up my strength or I wasn't going to be able to be successful in my career.
"So I spent my 40s focusing on strengthening myself through exercises and doing races so I could be strong," Scott said. "I carry that forward now to be an example for my staff. I schedule an appointment at my lunchtime every day to go to our recreation center and I work out."
That is a key differentiator, Scott believes: She doesn't want to be one of the bosses that always works through lunch, holds meetings through lunch, and doesn't let anyone have a break.
"I have gotten such a routine, and a reputation as being someone that always goes to the gym at lunch that some on my staff will suit up their running shoes and join me on the track so they can talk to me," Scott noted.
"Another thing is taking time off and letting people flex their schedule, When they have to come in on a weekend or a holiday to work on some crisis that you are mindful of that, that we allow people to have a break," Scott said.
Going hand-in-hand with personal time is flex time, and Scott strongly supports that as well.
"I don't want to put a rule around it because you never know what's going to happen, but the general principal around it is that we need to allow people to flex their time," Scott explained. "IT is a 24/7 service."
With some IT staff, that can be easier said than done, of course.
"Yes, the very technical back-end people that are very conscientious--it's hard to get them to stop working," Scott said.
So Scott places strong focus on identifying and developing specific skills within individual staff members.
"That's really challenging in a limited staff environment where you don't have the luxury of having multiple people in some of the specializations. But it's important and we are always striving to identify who it is that we need to have up to speed enough to take over for someone," Scott explained.
A champion for telecommuting options
While there has not been a huge demand for telecommuting with her current staff, Scott is a firm believer in it.
"We had to work through a lot of issues on what were the expectations on the part of the work and the supervisor in order to make this work," Scott indicated.
The topic of diversity also consumed much of the discussion at the forum, and Scott has strong feelings on whether there is a gender gap in IT and a so-called glass ceiling, at least in her field.
As to the issue of a gender gap, Scott acknowledged that may be a problem in corporate circles, but not in academia.
"I have not found there to be insurmountable challenges for me," Scott said. "People look at me and say, 'Wow, you broke through the glass ceiling.' If so, it didn't hurt very much. [ click to tweet]
"I do work to hire a diverse staff," Scott stressed. "We have women systems administrators, we have women that deal with software and systems, and I've got a director of academic computing who reports to me. We have more diversity than the average in the industry."
Whether women are drawn to IT is really a matter of personal commitment combined with the right working environment, Scott believes.
"It's a case of interest. Is this the topic that you want to immerse your life in and are these the people that you want to hang out with? Scott posed. "In my case, yes, I've always been interested in tech. I've always hung out with extremely nerdy people. I'm married to a scientist. My son is a computer science student. I'm comfortable in this community and all the women in my department are comfortable in this area."
"But if you're not comfortable in this area, and these are not the type of people that you have an affinity with, it would seem like a foreign land," Scott agreed.
Still, "I haven't seen the type of discrimination that I read about in some of those articles," Scott stressed.
Probably yes to both questions, Scott said.

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Deborah Scott Chief Information Officer - Worcester Polytechnic Institute

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Deborah Scott, chief information officer at WPI, is a recent transplant from California. Along with her husband, B. Keyes Scott, she adopted green technology early. She drove the first generation of Toyota Prius, and she said the couple had solar panels installed on their home in California.

So when the Chevrolet Volt - a plug-in hybrid that mostly runs on electricity but has a small gasoline engine - went on sale, she got on a months-long waiting list to buy one.
She had already moved to the state to start her job at WPI when her number came up, so the couple traveled back to California to pick it up. It was worth the trip, she said, as she proudly showed off her car.
She said she has signed up for ChargePoint, and is happy to see more stations pop up.
The station on WPI's campus will go online Thursday, college officials said.
Ms. Scott said she can typically get 30 to 35 miles on an electric charge before the gasoline-powered generator kicks in to charge the batteries, and said she has been surprised by the sports car-like handling of the Volt.
She said she has typically gotten by through timing her trips properly, and borrowing electrical outlets when she can.
With the stations, she won't be left wondering where the next volt will be coming from for her Volt.
In the meantime, she said she and her husband are shopping for a house in Massachusetts where they can install solar panels.
"So we can drive off the sun," she said.

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