SET update: Upcoming milestones and staff transitions

Todd Gilchrist - 17 June 2021

Thank you again to all those who attended and viewed the UAT Town Hall on Tuesday. As a follow-up to the event, I’d like to provide a recap of the SET information that was shared. 

As you know, we are in a critical period as the U of A moves forward with the implementation of the operating model. I know it may feel like we’ve been in change and transition for an interminable amount of time, but I promise that the end is in sight. In fact, we’re three-quarters of the way through the SET program and are focusing on an end date of March 2022.

SET progress and upcoming milestones

We’ve made significant progress this past year; SET has been following an intensive program schedule that has included:


The result is that the university is currently preparing for a major period of transition—of both staff and services—over the next few months. As I said, we’re three-quarters of the way through SET, so there will be some significant milestones coming up in the near future.

For example, the launch of the Shared Services unit will occur on two fronts: the Staff Service Centre will go live, with the initial transition of some HR processes, on July 26 followed by the introduction of service improvements and automation rolling out on an on-going basis. It is important to note that the launch is a transition over several months, not a moment in time.

Within the Student Services stream, the Student Service Centre will be ready for a virtual, soft launch on July 1 and is planning for a physical, hard launch on August 16.

The hiring of Service Partners for each of the functional workstreams is also in progress. As many of you know, the Senior HR Service Partners have been announced and several HR Partners have been hired. As well, the new Senior Finance Partners are being finalized and these individuals will be announced as soon as possible. Once in place, their first priority will be to hire Finance Partners in collaboration with representatives from the Faculty General Managers (FGMs). As the other functional workstreams continue to develop in the coming months, they will follow a similar process for the hiring of their respective service partners.

Staff transitions

As we transition to the new operating model, many new positions are being created and are in the process of being hired. To stay apprised of the new positions available, it’s important to watch the SET Position Opportunities Page (otherwise known as “POP”) as well as the U of A Careers site. From these sites, you’ll see new roles for administrative leadership (both APO and MAPS) as well as NASA positions being posted.

In this fiscal year, there are approximately 280 SET-related positions to action, which will include a combination of updates to existing positions as well as postings for new positions. I want to emphasize that in all instances, we are committed to following our HR principles, collective agreements, handbooks, policies, and legislation throughout the transition process.

There are a couple of different ways that these new positions will be filled:

  • There will be some positions that will only be changing slightly in the new model, and so those positions will be reevaluated, if required, and staff in those roles will continue. These positions will not appear on the POP or Careers sites. 
  • There will also be an Expression of Interest (EOI) process limited to NASA staff for NASA support positions. If, following the EOI process, a successful internal candidate is not identified,  the competition will be opened up more broadly internally and externally.

We remain committed to filling as many positions as possible with our talented U of A staff. That’s all roles - leadership, APO, MAPS and Support. Internal staff will be given priority for all recruitments, regardless if the position is posted externally at the same time.

Contrary to the rumours you may have heard, the majority of our new hires have been filled by internal candidates. For example, of the 72 positions that were hired since January, 64 of those positions were hired from internal staff. It makes me incredibly happy to see that we’re advancing our existing talent at the university and retaining our institutional expertise. 

It’s also important to emphasize that the new operating model provides opportunities for career development and growth. Not only does the model ensure that we can operate effectively and efficiently within our new budget reality, but equally critical is that it creates a workplace that significantly reduces redundancies and simplifies procedures and workflows. This means that staff can experience more rewarding and specialized work, sustainable roles, and clearer career paths.

This applies to all new roles in the model, including positions in the Shared Services unit. The goal—and I know it is shared by our new AVP of Shared Services, Ria Ames—is to have professionals from across the university’s administrative functions who leverage technology, systems, and processes to provide better outcomes for users. In doing so, we can simplify and automate tasks so that staff can put more focus and energy into consulting and provide their input into services and processes.

This past year has been challenging on many fronts and I want to recognize and thank you for all your hard work, perseverance, and resilience. All of you, as a group and as individuals, are integral to the collective success in implementing UAT; with your continued support, at this time next year, we’ll be across the finish line and even closer to achieving the UAT vision.

Todd Gilchrist
Vice President (University Services and Finance)
Chair, Service Excellence Steering Committee (SESC)



2020 updates  2021 updates  2022 updates