Profiles in IT: Michelle Williams—Erudite adventurer

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Michelle Williams headshot and a collage of adventurous activities she likes to do, such as diving and hiking.
This collage shows Michelle doing all the things she loves: kayaking, deep sea diving, zip lining, water parks, and hiking. (Image courtesy Michelle Williams)

Michelle Williams, end user computing specialist, was born and raised in Detroit. She moved to Ann Arbor to establish herself, and discovered a passion for healthcare and technology. She started her journey in healthcare in 2009 as a medical assistant specialist in the Department of Family Medicine at the Ypsilanti Health Center and joined HITS in 2015. Outside of work, Williams is spontaneous and adventurous, and enjoys activities on land, in water, and in the air. 

Tell us about your role. 

As an end user computing specialist with the Health Information Technology & Services (HITS) Service Desk, I enjoy the variety that my role offers. I like helping customers via telephone and our self-service ticketing system. I am also heavily involved in agent success activities. This includes creating training material and collaborating with Service Desk teams to ensure that agents have all of the training they need to be successful, whether through virtual training sessions or LinkedIn Learning modules. I joined HITS in 2015, and put my knowledge of EPIC MiChart (the electronic medical record) immediately to use by providing support to faculty physicians. About four years ago I expanded my knowledge to general technology and began working to establish our Agent Success team for the Service Desk.

What do you enjoy most about your job? 

The number one thing I enjoy about my job is helping people resolve their issues. I enjoy tackling challenges and fulfilling a need from idea to delivery. The main thing that keeps me motivated in IT is the thrill of constant learning, as well as the complexity and range of problems that we solve for our customers. While I enjoy learning about new technologies, I also enjoy teaching and being able to take my years of experience in MiChart and general IT and share my knowledge with people just getting into their careers. That is unbelievably rewarding.  

What is the biggest challenge you face in your work?

The biggest challenge I face in my job during these uncertain times is overworking. As much as I enjoy what I do, one of my challenges is keeping up with the volume of work compared to what I was used to doing before working from home. With the frequent technological changes and the ability to stay creative while I assist with many roles, I sometimes struggle with balancing responsibilities. I find it especially challenging to stay up-to-date with my professional development while learning the new daily changes in IT so that I can provide the best support possible to customers. When I notice myself feeling overwhelmed, I work on my organization and time management skills to regain work-life balance.

How does your work impact the university?

My role as a Service Desk agent directly impacts Michigan Medicine productivity. The faster I can solve issues or direct requests to the appropriate team, the faster issues can be corrected or ideas can become realities, and folks can get back to work. I am able to be a point of contact for users to gain assistance in troubleshooting, get answers to questions, and solve known problems. As part of the Agent Success team, I enable agents to be more efficient in triaging or troubleshooting and resolving issues by teaching agents our ticketing workflows, searching our knowledgebase, reaching out to the internal service desk team for advice, or escalating an issue to the appropriate support group. I also help drive team morale to create an enjoyable workplace.

What advice would you have for your past self as you embark on this career?

To my younger self, I would tell her patience and persistence ultimately pays off. I would tell her to focus on her passion for healthcare and technology a little earlier, lean deeper into my skill set for healthcare and technology, and perfect my ability to train and teach individuals their skills in this field. I would express that it is never too late to focus on yourself and abilities. I would also tell my younger self not to compare myself to others. Instead, judge yourself against what you know and you’re capable of. Remember that dreams do come true, but dreams are nothing without action. DREAM it, then DO it!   

What are your guiding principles?

Be in charge of your thoughts. What you say and how you feel starts with the way you think. A curious open mind lets in the necessary sun shine in.

Place a high value on yourself. The most important relationship you will ever have is the one you have with yourself. 

See the beauty in mistakes. Learn from your mistakes, and one day, your mistakes will provide and allow you to make decisions based on the best information you have and be confident you will be able to handle the outcome. Don’t allow mistakes to cause shame or prevent you from trying again. 

Be a student. Seek out opportunities where you aren’t the smartest person in the room and learn. You’re never too smart or too old to learn something new.

What do you do in your down time?

I spend time volunteering with the Detroit Cardinals youth organization, coaching kindergarten through second grade basketball. When I’m not doing that, I love spending time with friends and family traveling. I will do anything that is adventurous, from kayaking to zip lining, to swimming with dolphins. I really enjoy competing in 5k runs, including The Color Run, Inflatable 5k, Mud Factor, and Tough Mudder. I also like to watch tv shows (I’m currently watching Survivor), put together 3D puzzles, and listen to all genres of music.  

D. Stephanie Dascola, ITS Communications
Author: D. Stephanie Dascola, ITS Communications

Stephanie is a marketing and communications specialist senior on the ITS Communications team. Contact her at sdascola@umich.edu.

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