Manfred Sittmann is a web services analyst. He has worked at Hamilton Health Sciences for 11 years.
Favourite colour: dark blue/ book: Trouble Boys: The True Story of the Replacements, Bob Mehr/ vacation spot: Hilton Head/ music: too many to name!/ food: Big Mac, roti, sushi, prime rib, wings, and chips are all contenders/ holiday: Christmas
“I bought a book on how to code, locked myself in my basement and didn’t come out until I knew how to do it.”
What made you enter your field of work? I graduated with a degree in history from The University of Toronto, and I loved it. But, unfortunately it was not exactly a fast track to employment. From there, I completed a postgraduate degree in journalism. I quickly realized that I wasn’t that interested in pursuing journalism as a career and was back to no job. Around this time, the internet was coming into the public’s consciousness. I thought that doing something in that field would be both interesting and relevant. I bought a book on how to code, locked myself in my basement and didn’t come out until I knew how to do it. The challenge of learning the specifics, but also the creativity allows are things I love about coding and technology.
What do you love most about your job? This may sound incredibly trite, but it is helping people. In the Information & Communication Technologies (ICT) department we can feel pretty removed from patient care, so the next best thing is supporting the staff who directly impact patient care. Any time I help staff make their job easier or assist them in a task they need to complete, I enjoy it. It is especially rewarding if the task is something that was causing them a tremendous amount of stress and they thank me, so profusely. Although, I am always quick to remind them that it is my job, and they don’t need to be overly grateful.
What are your favourite ways to spend your free time? I enjoy spending time with my kids, obviously. And, that isn’t just an obligatory thing to say, I actually do. Both of my kids are fun and interesting people, so that would be my go to.
Otherwise, I love to coach. For the past 15 years I have coached football. I have coached every age and level from little kids playing house league to provincial varsity. This past season I was the Quarterbacks Coach for the University of Toronto team.
“Being in the hospitals and seeing what the staff are dealing with make me sort of snap to attention and work with them to get their issues squared away.”
Describe one of your most challenging days at work. I don’t know about challenging, but I definitely have a memory of the most eye opening day I had here. It involved a meeting I had very early on in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As I mentioned, we can be pretty removed from patient care so it is always emotionally significant when you come face to face with critically-ill children.
The meeting was about the challenges the staff were having with their SharePoint site. It is pretty easy to be dismissive of people when you are in an office safely tucked away from the front lines. But, being there and seeing what they were dealing with made me sort of snap to attention. I worked very quickly with them to get their issues squared away. I have kept that meeting at the forefront of my mind when dealing with all of the clients here. It is important to me that I am being part of the solution as opposed to the part of the problem.
What do you wish you had more time for at work? In general, I wish I had more time to just deal with the sheer volume of requests that come in. Between all of the ongoing projects, change requests, and the emails that I receive, it often takes all I can do to stay caught up. I’m always in a constant state of prioritizing and re-prioritizing. There is not a lot of time in the day for things like education and keeping your skills sharp. I just have to find time in the day to shoehorn that in.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you? In my younger days I was the guitarist for a couple of semi-serious bands – Soap Opera and The First Time. The latter of which was nominated for Punk Rock Band of the Year and Punk Rock record of the year at the Toronto Independent Music Awards one year. The most remarkable part is that, to my knowledge, we were not a punk rock band. To this day, I don’t know if we won or not, because I didn’t go to the ceremony.