Employee Spotlight: Jasmine Williams

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Tell me about your current role at Yale.

I am the Operations Manager for Classics, Philosophy, African American Studies and most recently the Yale New Haven Teacher’s Institute. I manage everything from finances and budgeting, staff management, human resources, facilities, support for the department Chair and overall departmental operations. I’ve been in my current role for 1.5 years, but I have been an Operations Manager for the last 10 years.

What are your main responsibilities?

My main responsibilities are financial management, budgeting, faculty support, staff management and overall departmental operations.   As the Operations Manager, I want to assure that everything operates as smoothly as possible and we work is a welcoming, open environment where everyone feels comfortable while receiving the support they need.  I have worked at Yale a long time and in very busy departments, so I understand sometimes you must get in the trenches to get the job.  This not only shows the staff you support them and understand their workload, but also shows the faculty that no job is too small to assure great customer service. 

What do you like most about your work?

I like the interaction with faculty and students. I have worked in the Sciences, the Medical School and Humanities; with this variety of experience I have learned so much about research and how the needs of the faculty differ across the various sections of the University.  Also, I really enjoy that my role is not restricted to one area of focus but allows me the opportunity to work on a range of things and continually learn something new.

How does your job affect your general lifestyle?

I have a positive work/life balance, but I feel inclined to constantly check my emails during my time away from the office to make sure I don’t miss anything.  It is not a requirement, but a part of who I am and my work ethic.

How did you begin your career?

I originally wanted to be a teacher, however during my second year in college I realized that was not the career path for me. I really enjoyed calculus and wanted to go into the business field, so I decided to switch my major to accounting.

 After graduating with my bachelor’s degree, I held a couple of accounting positions prior to coming to Yale, one as a Budget Analyst and another as a Credit and Collection Assistant Manager.  While both jobs were great and provided valuable experience, my goal was to find a position within Yale University.  

I applied for approximately two years to various positions within Yale before I was offered an opportunity to interview; I was determined.  I was confident that I only needed that one chance to show and prove who I was and what I had to offer.  I went on many positive interviews with positive feedback which resulted in me be referred for other open positions, but not getting the positions I had been interviewing for.   

While discouraging, the interviewing process allowed me to gain exposure, hone my interviewing skills and gain a better understand of the needs of the University.   Finally, after many interviews, two amazing people from the Shared Science Service Branch decided to give me a chance; that was over 11 years ago.   I will forever be grateful for the opportunity provided, the skills developed and the cohesive environment my first position here at Yale presented. 

What steps would you recommend one take to enter this field?

If someone is looking to enter the field of an Operations Manager, I would suggest that they learn as much as possible about operations within Yale and be open to learning things outside of their outlined set of responsibilities.   As an accountant in my first position here at Yale, I went to other departments to assist as needed.  I worked on things such as reconciliation, postdoctoral appointments, expense report preparation, visa applications, interim Assistant Administrator, inventory for the Peabody Museum, in addition to my standard accountant responsibilities.  I assisted with a lot that did not fit the standard accountant role.  By doing so, I learned many new things that helped me progress successfully to the Operations Manager position within a year of being at Yale.

What skills, abilities, and personal attributes are essential in your job/this field?

The skills that are essential to my job are patience, hard work, organization, responsiveness, understanding and enforcing policies, but also being able to find alternative solutions to situations. I also think it is important to be open minded, supportive and to maintain that the desire to learn because things are always evolving.

If you could do it all over again, would you choose the same path for yourself? If not, what would you change?

If I could do it all over again, I would choose the same path because I believe that what I have been through makes me who I am today.  I really enjoy what I do, and my position here gives me the opportunity to see many different things and meet many different people.  If I could change one thing, I would be more socially confident because in some ways I feel this will hold me back from progressing in my career, receiving the necessary exposure and networking but this is something I am actively working on.

What does YAAA mean to you and how have you contributed as a member?

When I think of YAAA, I think of connection. YAAA allows me to build a network with people that come from a vast range of positions across the University. I contribute by attending events and will join a committee.