A biweekly publication for faculty and staff

BFS Assistant Adds Her Personal Touch

February 26, 2013

As assistant to the assistant vice chancellor of Business and Financial Services (BFS), Atalie Womble has her hands in a lot of projects. While her first priority is scheduling Monir Ahmed’s appointments and handling his correspondence, the majority of Womble’s time is spent servicing all BFS units, including Payroll, Accounting, Risk Services, Campus Cashiering and more. As a departmental buyer, Womble handles a large portion of the office supply, training, utility, catering and technological equipment purchases for BFS. She coordinates meetings and edits reports and various communications for coworkers and supervisors.

She began her position in 2011 after moving to Merced for her husband Patrick’s job with UC Merced’s Sierra Nevada Research Institute.

Prior to joining BFS, Womble worked for a small advertising agency in Springfield, Mo., where she wrote scripts for television and radio ads, developed and distributed press releases, and assisted with media coordination and account services.

Womble enjoys tending to her vegetable garden during the spring and summer months, as long as there aren’t worms involved. Learn more about this in her last answer below.

How did you get into the area of finance?

My background is in advertising and public relations, but the particular work I’m interested in isn’t plentiful in Merced. I knew my education and experience had adequately prepared me for other office work, so when we moved here, I focused my gaze on open positions at UC Merced. I interviewed with a few departments on campus; the Business and Financial Services department seemed like a good fit.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Because my position is supporting a department that is a mosaic of disciplines, I’ve been exposed to a lot of people and undertakings. That aspect has generated plenty of headaches, but it injects variety into my work, and has given me a stake (albeit a small one) in many areas. Being a fleck in a large group, people can sometimes feel like they’d go unnoticed if they were gone, but I actually feel that I am quite needed. I’ve had the chance to add personal touches to my work. To have that validation really feeds my upper levels on Maslow’s hierarchy (Google it if memories of Psych 101 are foggy), and I cling to that when those headaches come on!  

What new initiatives/projects/plans are you looking forward to this year?

Budget reduction coupled with campus growth means increased responsibility to maintain the same quality of service. This has the potential to affect staff morale over time. To be proactive, BFS leadership recently initiated several new avenues for staff to anonymously communicate concerns, requests for information, general feedback or endorsement of something they are pleased with.

A small team of volunteers composed of varying levels of seniority within BFS meets monthly to review the submissions and formulate suggested actions or responses, which are later presented to our managers and directors for assessment. From past experience (not at UC Merced), I know this sort of initiative can fall flat if the committee isn’t empowered by the decision makers. I was a bit apprehensive when I joined the team; however, our initial meetings have been very productive and the first set of recommendations were fairly well received. The prospect of helping influence and facilitate a more positive working environment through participation in this committee is heartening, and I will be pleased to see if we can continue the momentum.

How has BFS been involved in helping the campus become a “greener” campus?

There are a number of in-progress projects aimed at reducing paper and increasing efficiencies. UCPath is probably the most giant and dramatic of these, but my favorite green-related implementation was the addition of the Equipment Management unit in 2012. A large portion of its responsibilities includes managing surplus property via proper redistribution, disposal, and sale of surplus equipment and supplies for UC Merced. Basically, if you don’t need an object anymore, contact Equipment Manager Lori Callaway and she’ll find someone else who can use it (on campus or off) or determine the best way of discarding it taking environmental, economic and compliance factors into account.

Tell us something about yourself that most people on campus wouldn’t know.

I’ll reveal my extremely absurd and insanely impractical fear of worms (which also extends to caterpillars). I will not touch them; if someone holding one extends it too close to me I will run. The smell after rain is gross to me as I associate it with the terrifying beasts. I know there is absolutely no logic to my dread of a slow, gentle, subterranean, harmless annelid (I like snakes- and those can be fatal for goodness sake), but there you have it.