To Joe Som, his job is all about security. The analyst/programmer in Student Services Technology Applications manages technology applications, software and hardware to ensure data security for the division. “I make sure all of the electronic data is properly stored and security is not compromised,” he said. “Technology Applications ensures that all of the division’s computers, servers and mobile devices follow the university’s information security policies, standards and guidelines and also the division’s best practices.”
Som knows he has a division depending on him. “When it comes to technology, Technology Applications is the first line of contact for division staff,” he explained. “We deal with questions from people who don’t know where else to go.” Som also manages Student Services’ in-house applications and helps to protect medical records in Counseling and Psychological Services. “We try to utilize technology as best as possible to efficiently deliver a product or solution that staff can use and understand,” he said.
Som came to CSULB after a career working for a Carson-based digital imaging company and for IBM. “I first heard about the CSULB position while I was vacationing in Hawaii,” he recalled. “There was a position available but the application deadline was the next day. From my hotel balcony, using my laptop, I filled out the application and submitted my resume. I didn’t think too much about it at the time but I was surprised and honored that I was asked for an interview. A few weeks later, I was offered the position.”
When he first joined the university in 2005, Som found a single server for his division. Today he manages eight servers, all dealing with different applications and services. “We try to streamline workflows and processes throughout the division to be more efficient and provide a better service for our staff and the students they support. An example is having students utilize tablets to fill out departmental forms which are then saved in electronic records for future reference,” he said. “It’s amazing where we started and where we are now.”
Customer service is key to Som. “If our users are not satisfied, then we are doing something wrong,” he said. “I want to strike a balance between our expertise and staff expectations. In this job, you need to be determined and patient, and you need the ability to multi-task and manage time efficiently to meet all of the deadlines.”
Som works hard to keep pace with technological change. “A key to our success is tapping into in-house resources and the IT community across campus,” Som said. “I have never felt I was stuck by myself on an island. It is important to stay open and willing to reach out to anyone.”
The Anaheim Hills resident grew up in Long Beach and graduated from Long Beach Poly before earning a degree in computer information systems. He hopes eventually to earn a master’s in business administration. When he isn’t developing and testing something on campus computer-wise, he takes it up at home in his own virtual network. “I love the challenges and problems that I experience on a day-to-day basis on campus,” he said. “I work out of my home where I test what I cannot at work.” When he’s away from the computer screen, he likes to stay physically active by playing basketball, running, hiking and kayaking.
One of the things Som likes best about CSULB is its diversity. “It is more than the people,” he said. “It is the diversity of personalities we have here. That can be a challenge when solutions can be found only in several personalities spread across campus. It can be frustrating at times, but I love the challenge.”