Have You Met… Damian Hollow?

Have you met Damian, University Records Officer? Spend the next few minutes getting to know him a little better.

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Have you met Damian, University Records Officer? Spend the next few minutes getting to know him a little better.

Where is your favourite place on campus?

Main quad. I love seeing the interaction between the students and people there. My favourite time is over the summer when there’s a thousand kids out there running around doing crazy things. It reminds you of why you work for an institution like this.

Tablet or paper?

Tablet. My handwriting is so bad. It just takes to long to do things by hand. I can type really quickly, but my accuracy is something like five percent.

Name one thing you’ve brought to work from home.

My spouse makes a calendar every year. It’s got family pictures from birthdays and stuff.

What is the one thing you can’t live without?

One thing I struggle to live without is electronic devices. My family has a cabin in Lake Cowichan, which is three kilometers away from the nearest cell service. The cabin has no power. I find being there to be quite a struggle.

If you won airfare to anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Probably Australia. Somewhere along the coast in particular. I love Caloundra and the beach. Other than Australia, I’d be interested in seeing some of South America.

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

This may sound cheesy — my wife. I like talking to her, she’s a lot of fun. But if she’s busy (and she is), then Isaac Asimov. He’s a science fiction writer who’s written something like three hundred books, including I, Robot. He’s written on politics, religion, science, philosophy — I think he’d have a lot to say.

If you could switch jobs with someone else on campus for a week, what would you do?

I kind of like my job — everyone else’s job looks harder. However, it would be advantageous to me to spend time in a more research intensive role. I’ve done a lot of programmatic study, but I’ve never had exposure to a lab environment. So that would be useful to me so I could understand a bit more about how the university works.

What does “uplifting the whole people” mean to you?

I think it means we as an institution have a responsibility to our students, researchers, and staff. But more importantly, we are a community organization. It’s our responsibility to ask difficult questions which are sometimes unpopular, and to make decisions which are sometimes hard. We have to remember this is a public institution for a reason — we are here to serve the public. Sometimes they may be stakeholders like students or researchers, but sometimes it’s those kids running around in the campus quad — those are all part of the whole people.

If you could solve any problem in the world, what would it be?

There seems to be an increasing tendency in the world to focus on short-term planning. When you think about our slogan, “uplifting the whole people”, that’s not something we can achieve in a quarter, or a year, or ten years. The problems we’re encountering no longer have simple solutions — permanent, sustainable solutions from an environmental, economic, and social perspective are going to take decades to even get on the right path. I think we’re going to continue circling these solutions unless we start considering long-term planning.

What 3 words best describe your U of A experience?

You’ve got to be Adaptive, you’ve got to be collaborative, but you have to keep in mind the purpose of the institution.

About Damian Hollow

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Damian leads the University Records Office and has 20 years of leadership experience in increasing the organizational value of records, data, information and technology. He focuses on improving the value of organizational information through communication and organizational change management, business analysis, project management, and strategic planning with university units. He is an alumnus of the University of Alberta (Masters of Business Administration) and also graduated from the Australian National University with a Bachelor of Arts. He is also an ADKAR-PROSCI certified organizational change management specialist.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.