McMaster Mentors

Terri Wetton

Senior Manager, Accounts Payable and Travel

Expertise: Growing in Role
I have been with McMaster for 40 years serving in a variety of roles and departments. Most recently I was Functional Lead for the Procurement, Payables and Travel and Expense Modules in Mosaic. The implementation of Mosaic has seen considerable change in all functions at McMaster. In order to embrace this dramatic and significant change in technology I had to be flexible, resilient, open minded and, in particular, open to doing things differently. It has been just over two years since we implemented the Finance modules. With each passing day my staff and I become more knowledgeable of systems functionality. We look for ways to make our processes more efficient. We do not hesitate to recommend changing functions within our roles. In general terms, the key to Growing in Your Role is an ongoing commitment to learning and development. Mosaic is only one example where learning can pay off. By getting better at what you do and expanding the boundaries of what you understand, you become more valuable to your team, customers, and the University. In fact, you become a bigger player, subject matter expert, which widens your world to new career opportunities as well. In summary, Growing in Your Role requires a passion to learn, a desire to broaden your knowledge base, taking a strategic approach to tackling processes and being open to change.

Sheila Sammon
Director of Community Engagement, Professor, School of Social Work

Expertise: The Importance of Community Involvement
When I started my work with the School of Social Work at McMaster over 25 years ago, I was responsible for designing the School’s field placement program. In this capacity, I focused on the academic foundation of the field placements. I worked with over a hundred local social service, health, education, corrections and community organizations that provided educational supervision for our students. I provided courses for the supervisors and was responsible for helping to prepare students for community involvement. I was one of the founding members of the Social Sciences Experiential Education Office and have remained on their Governing Council for most of the subsequent years. In the late 1990s, I was part of the group of faculty members who collaborated to design and offer the first Social Sciences Inquiry course. This course required the students to consider “how images of ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, age, class or abilities help to create aspects of personal and community identity”. Over the years I have had countless opportunities to work with and learn from community groups providing workshops, consultations, and volunteer work. I have also had the opportunity to work with students, staff and faculty who had an interest in community based education. I was on the President’s Forward with Integrity Task force on Community Engagement, I have chaired the Network for Community Campus Partnerships since its inception and currently function as Director of Community Engagement.

Joel Côté
Associate Director, Major & Planned Giving

Expertise: Growing in Leadership/Management
I’ve had the pleasure of working at McMaster since July 2004 when I was hired to be a Development Officer working on the campaign for what is now the David Braley Athletic Centre and Ron Joyce Stadium. In 2006, I made the transition to Senior Development Officer during “The Campaign for McMaster University” and in 2010, was promoted to Associate Director of Leadership Giving. Today, I’m Associate Director of Major & Planned Giving. Each transition in my career at McMaster has presented its own challenges and opportunities, especially moving into a leadership position in 2010. I’m excited to share the good and the bad of what I’ve learned along the way to help others grow into their leadership positions.

Dave Heidebrecht
Coordinator, Network for Community-Campus Partnerships

Expertise: The Importance of Community Involvement
After my graduation from McMaster’s Masters in Globalization Studies program in 2010, I worked directly with academic, non-profit, and community organizations to help them work towards their goals. In this time, I had the opportunity to collaborate with local, national, and international groups to foster and support organizational strategies that produce positive, sustainable, and effective change. I am especially interested in the intersections between environmental, political, and social issues facing our global society, and I have been coordinating the Network for Community-Campus Partnerships since May 2013 with the goal of strengthening relationships amongst colleagues — both at McMaster and in the community — who are working to build mutually-beneficial community-campus research, education, and service partnerships. Outside of my work at McMaster, I am also actively involved in the Hamilton community, most recently through my work with Cycle Hamilton, a new group advocating for improved cycling infrastructure in Hamilton.

Mary Johnston
Retired Research Co-ordinator, Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics

Expertise: Transitioning to Retirement
I joined the University staff immediately after completing my Bachelor of Science degree at McMaster. For most of the next 32 years, I worked as a member of the research staff in the Faculty of Health Sciences. My work involved coordinating clinical trials, systematic reviews and practice guidelines, as well as data management. Early in my career, I completed eight Masters-level courses in research design, measurement and evaluation as a continuing student. After retiring from the University, I did contract work for six years. During that time, and since becoming a “full-time” retiree, I have been involved as a volunteer with a number of groups in Dundas and Hamilton. I am an active member of the McMaster University Retirees Association, having served as Council member, Vice-President, President and newsletter editor.

Rocco Piro
Director, Information Technology, Faculty of Health Sciences

Expertise: Growing to Advance
I began my career at McMaster in the Tandem Accelerator as an electronic technician in July of 1988 after graduating from the University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics. In 1989 I joined the Faculty of Humanities as the Technical Supervisor for the Language Labs. My role developed, becoming a managerial one as the unit and its services diversified and expanded, eventually becoming Humanities Media and Computing. In 2006 I took on my current role as the Director of IT in the Faculty of Health Sciences based in the Computer Services Unit. I’m experienced in the development of instructional media and e-resources; web application and web services development and deployment; database design and deployment; computing infrastructure, networking infrastructure, and server implementation and administration. I work collaboratively with other technology service providers within the University and within local and regional teaching hospitals. I’ve also taught various technology-based courses at the University since 1997, initially as an instructor for CCE’s Microcomputer Diploma and Infotech programs and then as an adjunct member of the Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia. ‘Growing to advance’ would be the ideal topic for me to talk to as I have been involved with the University in all roles…student (1983-88), student worker(1986-88), staff (non TMG, 1988-1998), staff (TMG, 1998-present), CCE instructor (1997-2004) and Adjunct faculty member(2000-2013). I have seen the campus grow immensely in the almost 33 years I have been here and I have grown with it.

Carolyn J. Rosenthal
Professor Emeritus, Sociology/Health, Aging and Society

Expertise: Transitioning to Retirement
McMaster has been central to my academic career. I obtained my M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology at McMaster. After 14 years at University of Toronto, first as a postdoctoral fellow in Behavioural Science/Community Health and then as an assistant and associate professor in Occupational Therapy, I returned to McMaster as Professor in Sociology and Gerontology. I served two terms as the Director of the Programme in Gerontology (now a part of the Department of Health, Aging and Society) and a year as acting/interim associate dean, Social Sciences. I retired in 2004. The 12 years since my retirement have flown by and have been a most rewarding time of life for me. Some of the activities have been ones I had planned for but others were entirely unexpected. I can speak to retirement as a scholar of the social aspects of aging but also as someone who has personally experienced the transition to retirement.

Vanessa Hayward
Admissions and Recruitment Officer, School of Graduate Studies

Expertise: Growing Across
One word to describe my career history would be “winding”. My career story consists of a variety of employment opportunities where I have collected valuable transferable skills over the past 15 years. To me, “Growing Across” means that I have developed an assortment of technical skills, knowledge about how the University functions as well as strengthened interpersonal skills to round out my “tool box” that I use at work each day. At McMaster, “Growing Across” is something that anyone can achieve and I believe that it starts within. In my experience an attitude of openness, willingness to change and being adaptable are key to engaging in new opportunities across campus. McMaster sets employees up for success by offering Career Growth employment opportunities and career development services such as resume and interview preparation support. These services allow employees to try new jobs, learn more about the University and develop strong working relationships with a variety of people across our campus. Please join me to discuss the benefits of Career Growth opportunities at McMaster, why I have moved across campus and why you might be interested in doing the same!

Susan Birnie
Director, Education Services, Health Sciences

Expertise: Leveraging Mentoring/Coaching
I have had the pleasure of being in a number of different roles at McMaster during my many years here. I have been a lecturer (Business), a research coordinator (Social Science) and a administrator/manager/director (different departments and Schools in Health Sciences). In each of those roles I had the opportunity to experience coaching and mentoring, received and given, formal and informal. I was struck by a quote I heard from a music icon, who said that he was influenced by every song that affected him. And so it is with mentoring; involvement in a mentoring situation results in growth to both the mentor and the mentee. Mentoring at McMaster is more likely to be informal, with opportunities to develop a mentoring relationship available within and outside of those we interact with daily. I have been on both sides of the relationship. As a manager, I found that I coached those who reported to me regularly. Coaching, normally more short term and related to specific skills, can also be sought out – I learned to ask those whose skill I admire to help me to learn the skill as well. By making the best use of mentoring and coaching, we can leverage TMG as a group to become a stronger, more influential resource to the university, while becoming better managers as individuals.

Susan Mitchell
Director, Finance and Administration

Expertise: Growing Across
I came to McMaster from the private sector in 2001 as Administrative Leader in the Human Resources department. This role was a hybrid of Executive Assistance and Officer Manager and was aligned with my previous experience. In 2003, I joined the Faculty of Social Sciences as Executive Officer. I moved back to Human Resources in late 2004 to join the Working at McMaster office; later, I was appointed manager of the unit. Between 2006 and 2010 I was fortunate to be asked to work on a number of large change management projects that included the MacVIP payroll conversion project, the creation of the HR Service Centre — a merger of payroll and HR front line service functions — and the implementation of the MacTRAC recruitment, application and hiring tool. In 2011 I joined the DeGroote School of Business as its Director of Finance and Administration. McMaster has offered me opportunities to stretch and grow that are unparalleled to my private sector experience. Until my current appointment, the majority of my assignments would be classified as lateral moves, or modest promotions. Each of my ‘Growing Across’ transitions significantly expanded the depth and breadth of my skills. I was given the opportunity to gain hands on experience in system implementation, change management, web management, group facilitation and public speaking. I had the opportunity to learn complex Human Resources functions in a multi-union environment and, in Social Sciences, I learned the processes related to faculty recruitment, tenure, promotion, leaves and merit. More importantly, I was able to integrate this experience in a way that vastly improved my decision-making skills and my ability to work collaboratively. Recognizing, and taking advantage of, opportunities to ‘Grow Across’ provided me with the broad knowledge base that ultimately allowed me to be considered for the role I now have.

Andrea Farquhar
Assistant Vice-President Communications and Public Affairs

Expertise: Growing in Leadership/Management
I joined McMaster in 1996 after almost a decade as a broadcast reporter and news reader. Beginning at the University in media relations, community relations and other activities were added into my portfolio and I became Associate Director, Public Relations in 1999. I assumed leadership of the overall department a year later and was Director until 2011 when the department was expanded and I took on the role as Assistant Vice-President, Public and Government Relations. I entered the University on a short-term contract that gave me the chance to learn about McMaster and the role of PR within the organization. Since then I have been lucky to report to people who were genuinely interested in my career progression and provided me with invaluable opportunities to learn new skills and take on more responsibility. They have been incredible mentors and, luckily for me, they still are.

Sarah Bouma
Director of Administration, School of Rehabilitation Science

Expertise: New to McMaster
I joined McMaster, from the ‘outside’, in September 2013. While it was not my first time on campus, having completed my MSc degree here, the university was not a familiar place (most of my training had been off campus). One of my first impressions was McMaster’s sheer size and scope. I quickly realized that my learning curve would have to extend beyond the fundamentals of my day-day role and needed to include understanding McMaster’s culture and my place within it. To accomplish this goal, I leveraged opportunities to meet colleagues face to face to learn about their roles. I attended open forums, training & development sessions, as well as social events. I also sought opportunities to get involved with committees outside of my department. At an early stage I enrolled in the New Manager Orientation Program (NMOP), which was a great introduction to working as a manager at McMaster. Through NMOP I was offered to participate in the first formal TMG mentoring program. I was fortunate to be paired with great McMaster leaders whom carved out time for me, listened to my questions, provided insight and encouragement and helped orient me in new directions. The university is filled with wonderful people that are rich in knowledge and experience and have a ready willingness to share it with others. Taken all together, this has enabled me to have a very positive transition to McMaster.

I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as ‘making a life’.

Maya Angelou