Full Circle for Michael Secright: From UW student to CIO at HFS

Welcome, Michael, to HFS and welcome back to The UW.

Now in week 10 as the new Chief Information Officer (CIO) for HFS, Michael Secright is settling into his new role. So far, he’s been pleased to discover that he inherited a capable and committed staff, a number of programs underway, and the opportunity to continue to advance the unit’s mission. Moreover, he brings his perspective and experience as an experienced information technology professional.

Michael for Website

He’s also coming full circle.

The U-Dub is Michael’s alma mater, where he lived in McMahon Hall and received his B.S. degree in Technical System Communications. After college, he served as Director of Information Technology for xSides Corporation, a company in Seattle that made User interfaces for IBM, HP, Epson, Packard Bell as well as ASP (Active Service Providers, the precursor to the Cloud) and security programs. The company is best known for its work with Sega, Nintendo and Myspace Online. After 10 years with xSides, Michael joined Insightful Corporation, again, as Director of Information Technology. This company was also involved in developing MathSoft, InFact and S+, an analytics engine. Michael says that several of their tools have been used at the University. And more recently, from 2007 through 2016, Michael was Director of Information Technology for Goodwill of Tacoma. Along the way, he also earned a Master’s of Science in Information Systems, again at The UW.

Opportunity knocks.The combination of coming back to my alma mater and then getting see how a program has taken and woven itself into the life of the students in a completely different way than it was when I was here seemed like a great opportunity,” he says from his new office.

Michael mentions that back in the day when dining in the McMahon cafeteria that preceded The 8, “if you were the last people in the dining hall at night, they’d ask you to fold up the tables and roll them back so they could clean the floors.”

Now looking to the present and beyond, Michael, recognizes the energy here at UW as “a place that’s constantly learning, that’s constantly growing, so they couldn’t have gotten to where they are now by being stagnant, by not really thinking about the future.”    

In his first months at HFS, Michael has been getting to know the lay of the land—ranging from the skills and abilities of his staff, to the structures of other HFS units and their needs, to the way HFS (and HFS IT) connect to the rest of the university. “I’m not changing anything right now,” he says. “I’m asking questions. I’m looking for processes. And then we can talk about what we can do to make things better. And make it a ‘we’ conversation rather than an ‘I’ conversation.”  

Michael and White Board

On the board. Asked to explain the flow chart on a white board behind his desk, Michael supplies a ten-minute answer detailing the elements that go into how information systems (and the HFS IT one in particular) operate. “I was asking a question: Where do we get our information from? Do we get it from the forecasting piece? Do we get if from Management Reporter? Do we get it from Great Plains? From all these other pieces of data being married together?” The answers he and his team come up with should allow for better overview analysis, for a clearer understanding of and connection between what used to be disparate bits of information.

On a personal side, Michael’s son Malcolm just got accepted to the UW and is interested in being a Disney Imagineer. Disney Imagineering is a specialized group that designs the attractions and experiences in the Disney property portfolio. “Malc’s love of sound engineering coupled with ‘ME or EE’ could be an asset to them (Disney) when he graduates,” Michael hopes.   

As for hobbies, Michael calls himself a ‘barbeque aficionado.” He owns five barbeque pits, including a smoker. “I am going to be trying my hand at competitive BBQ, hopefully this year,” he says. Michael has also joined the Pacific NW Barbeque Association and could find himself in competitions in Las Vegas, Memphis and Pacific Northwest locations over the next couple of years.

Michael adds that he’s always been mechanically inclined and liked to find out how things worked. “I’m still that way,” he admits. “To me computers are giant systems so I tend to visualize all these things talking to each other and why they talk to each other and how they talk to each other. Systems diagramming and systems analysis—those are my forte.” He might even try building a robot. Imagine a droid helping out at IT.

Special note from Michael: "I also love cooking. . .the ultimate science."

April 2017