Meet Janet Tollenaar

Earlier this year, the Office of the Vice-Provost and Associate Vice-President (Information Services & Technology) received a record-breaking number of nominations for the 2020 IT Awards. We are excited to recognize the individuals who were nominated and the important contributions they make everyday at the University of Alberta.

Janet Tollenaar began working at MedIT in 2008 and works as an Applications Analyst.  She enjoys the diversity of her work assisting members in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, along with the comradery with colleagues within MedIT, IST and AHS. When not working, Janet enjoys spending her time traveling, gardening, and doing home renovations.

We spoke with Janet to learn more about her role and what motivates her.

What does a day in the life look like in your position?

My daily work demands the ability to rapidly shift between arising issues and having a breadth of technical knowledge to resolve requests that arrive on my desk. Our clientele possesses varying degrees of experience on computers as well as processes within our complex environment. It is important to ensure that our Faculty members' needs are met and are comfortable with the results achieved. 

What’s one thing you’re working on now, and why is it important?

One of the important items that I’ve been working on recently is to help a group of resident physicians by updating equipment along with their transition to MedIT’s Virtual Computer Services technology. As these residents are our future specialists, equipping them with our flexible solutions (and ensuring they have appropriate access in all domains) allows them to perform optimally.

What have you worked on since joining the university that you are most proud of? 

Over the years at MedIT, I’ve enjoyed taking on different challenges and finding the best solutions I can for our clientele. I pride myself on performing my duties in a timely manner and that all issues have been addressed to their satisfaction; this includes offering the most cost-effective solutions possible in these times of increasing fiscal constraints. 

Why did you pursue a career in IT?

When I started my work life, corporations began switching to computers (from paper and IBM Selectric typewriters).  I found that I became the ‘go-to’ person when various issues arose on computers.   I enjoyed programming and database development in my early years within IT.  IT has always been a natural fit as it is like a good puzzle - you look for details, patterns and use persistence to deconstruct and resolve challenges in a logical manner.   

If you could snap your fingers and become an expert in something, what would it be?

If I could be an expert in anything, I’d say picking the winning numbers on one of the $50 million lotto jackpot, then skillfully managing the money and people to make a meaningful impact for my family, friends and local community interests.    

If you could only have three apps on your smartphone, which would you pick?

For me this is nearly an impossible question as there are always new apps coming out and old apps that get revised.  If we exclude messaging and email, I have at least one health app, podcast app and an international news app.    

Anything else you'd like to share?

I’m really hoping that the pandemic is over sooner than expected.  I’m looking forward to the time where my daughter and I can enjoy a mini-vacation however, at the moment I’m very grateful that we are both still healthy and employed at the University of Alberta. 


Janet Tollenaar was nominated for an IT Award earlier this year for her cheery and helpful nature when assisting members of FoMD, her commitment to high quality IT support, and the valuable knowledge she imparts on those she assists.