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Category Archives: Government

Understanding IT Security and Cybersecurity Laws

Conferences, Cyber Security, Data Privacy, Government, Information Security, Information Technology, IT Security, National Cyber Security Awareness Month, Public Sector, Ransomware, Sacramento, Technology

By Jamal Hartenstein, JD, CISSP, CGEIT, PMP

(ISC)², a leading cybersecurity and IT security professional organization, is holding their annual Security Congress event in Orlando in a few months. At the conference, I will be presenting a panel called “Behind the Text: Laws on Data Privacy, Consumer Rights and Cybersecurity, Deconstructed.” Today I am sharing a little bit of insight into what I will delve further into at the (ISC)² event.

Data privacy and cybersecurity laws shape many aspects of an organization, from influencing the operational decisions an organization makes to the way IT security professionals do their jobs.

The purpose of data privacy laws is to provide regulatory compliance measures to protect personal data—depending on the industry, this could be the data of consumers, customers, private citizens, or others. Typically, the laws align with IT security frameworks (often created by academics or other experts) and companies write their data privacy policies to comply with laws and adhere to frameworks.

But, what’s missing? When you deconstruct the text of the laws that govern an organization’s industry—think private sector financial, health insurance, banking, etc.—you may find loopholes or obligations you didn’t know existed. Organizations can save themselves a lot of time and money by understanding the scope of their legal obligations.

Legislation is increasingly shaping the IT security professional’s field. Some laws that currently govern IT security have been on the books for 100+ years, but only recently have been interpreted to cover data privacy and cybersecurity violations. These changing legal interpretations, along with the new laws being put on the books, means that there’s a level of legal understanding that can be daunting for organizations and the security professionals they employ. Collectively, we need to dissect the wording used in the popular data privacy and cybersecurity laws and break it down so IT professionals can truly understand what we’re working with.

As an IT Security professional, I understand the threats, technology, and strategies to mitigate threats. Having a legal background makes it easier for me to understand laws that determine exposure to compliance obligations and laws that influence how I develop strategies. For example, when organizations comply with a deletion request, or “the right to be forgotten” (aka: of your own personal data records held with an organization), this can be an expensive process, especially if the data is on offsite backups and housed with third party data processors. But the law is particularly tricky with explanations on why, how, and when an organization must process a deletion request, or even if the request must be performed at all. Consequently, a lot of time and money can be saved if IT Security professionals understand the text of the laws.

Interested in learning more? During my discussion at the (ISC)² Security Congress, we’ll cover the following:

  • Identifying loopholes in laws. For example, whether you must comply with a consumer’s request to be “forgotten”/deleted.
  • Identifying widely unknown obligations. For example, the requirement to appoint an EU Representative under GDPR, distinguished from the DPO.
  • Understanding the rights of the consumers regarding data privacy provisions and IT security obligations.
  • Understanding factors used to determine whether you must comply with data privacy and cybersecurity laws…and to what extent.

Want to find out how to deconstruct and understand security law? Attend my panel at the (ISC)² Security Congress in October—I hope you see you there!

About the Author: IT Security Program Manager at KAI Partners, Jamal Hartenstein is a cybersecurity legal expert who has helped some of the country’s largest financial institutions, healthcare companies, and federal agencies develop their IT Security Roadmap programs. In his current role, Jamal provides guidance to executive staff and security professionals on laws, frameworks, and policies that help shape their strategic plan, and helps organizations innovate safely and securely. Prior to working for KAI Partners, Jamal served as an Electronic Warfare Sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps, where he was a steward for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) framework. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Military College and his Juris Doctorate from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California.

How to Hack into an IT Career (No hacker skills required!)

Cloud Computing, Corporate Training, Cyber Security, Digital Transformation, Government, Information Security, Information Technology, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, IT Security, KAI Partners, Professional Development, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Technology, Workforce Development

By Jamal Hartenstein, JD, CISSP, CGEIT, PMP

I recently had the opportunity to speak to a group of civil servants through the organization, NxtGov. NxtGov is a professional network for people working in California public service, and those who are interested in public service. According to NxtGov, “We want to develop this network into a platform for collaboration across government and other sectors to develop innovative ideas to improve government service and restore trust and pride in public service.”

To achieve their mission, NxtGov promotes training and advancement of current government workers and actively recruits new talent. NxtGov adds value with opportunities on how to find and apply to government positions and training on how to sharpen skills to promote within.

My discussion focused on improving understanding of the Information Technology workforce within the public sector, including information on the different certifications and skills-building that might be beneficial. With so many public sector agencies undertaking large system replacements and other innovation projects, skilled IT professionals are needed now more than ever. And, IT professionals with different backgrounds—like project management and change management—are just as much in demand.

Interested in learning more? Here are some Q&A on IT certifications and professional development:

  1. Do I need an IT certification? Considering all the letters behind my name, I definitely think certifications are valuable! Plus, certifications are often mandatory checkboxes when applying for government positions. Even if it’s not mandatory, a certification can indicate to employers your interest in and dedication to a particular industry. A certification can also validate years of experience and capability.
  2. Which certification do I need? First you need to determine which certification is most valuable to you and your goals. A certification is only as strong as the certificate authority and how you use your credential. Remember that earning a certification often allows you to gain access to and participate in a new online community with membership by the certification authority. Resources will become available that otherwise were not offered, which only aids in your continued development.
  3. Is a PMP® an IT certification? Short answer: Yes! Many of us have been involved in IT project management, but just didn’t know it. A PMP® credential is a valuable IT certification and as of July 2019, there are nearly 900 open project management jobs in the Sacramento region. (Bonus: The average IT Project Manager position pays upwards of $95K annually).

The future of IT in the public sector is great and growing. Whether it’s through cloud migrations, third party software replacements, or an innovation we haven’t even thought of yet, now is the time to start taking your professional development up a notch. For a sustainable IT career, you should keep up with new certification and training and make sure you don’t stay stagnant in a position that isn’t growing along with the speed of technology.

How are you navigating the IT changes in the public sector? Be sure to check out NxtGov to learn more about the important work they’re doing to help improve government services.

About the Author: IT Security Program Manager at KAI Partners, Jamal Hartenstein is a cybersecurity legal expert who has helped some of the country’s largest financial institutions, healthcare companies, and federal agencies develop their IT Security Roadmap programs. In his current role, Jamal provides guidance to executive staff and security professionals on laws, frameworks, and policies that help shape their strategic plan, and helps organizations innovate safely and securely. Prior to working for KAI Partners, Jamal served as an Electronic Warfare Sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps, where he was a steward for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) framework. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Military College and his Juris Doctorate from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California.

Using Data and Semantics to Improve Public Sector Services

Continuous Improvement, Data Management, Data Science, Government, Healthcare, Information Technology, Innovation, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, Public Sector, Sacramento, Technology

An Interview with Dr. Josh Morgan of SAS


We recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Josh Morgan, National Director of Behavioral Health and Whole Person Care at software developer SAS, speak at the SAS Institute Inc.’s SAS California Users Forum.

Dr. Morgan spoke about how important semantics and data are to solving complex issues in the areas of health care, homelessness, corrections, the environment, and more.

We were particularly taken with Dr. Morgan’s insights on how we define things can determine how we review and analyze them. He emphasized that the way we speak about a problem influences how we look at it and address it. (Spoiler: Below, Dr. Morgan shares a great story about how changing semantics in a public outreach and engagement program led to improvements to the public agency’s services.)

After hearing Dr. Morgan speak, we wanted to learn more about the work he does and his passion for improving whole person care and for helping solve complex issues. Today we’re thrilled to share this interview with Dr. Josh Morgan!

KAI Partners, Inc.: What is your profession/day-to-day work?

Dr. Morgan: I’m a licensed psychologist currently working as the National Director of Behavioral Health and Whole Person Care at SAS. I provide consultation to agencies on how to identify a more complete, accurate picture of community need as well as the impact of services, ideally from a more holistic perspective.

KAIP: How did you get into this field?

Dr. Morgan: I was planning to become a film director originally, but wanted to more directly help people, so I pursued psychology (after exploring multiple other fields). My doctoral program emphasized strengths-based, person-centered work that also acknowledged the role of systems and structures in our lives (versus an individual in isolation). But when I started working full-time in the field, I got frustrated by all the things we weren’t allowed to do because it’s not a covered benefit or not in policy. Our health world is focused very much on reducing symptoms and just on the individual. I made the move into the analytics/evaluation side as a way to use data to advocate for better services, systems, structures, and policies.

KAIP: What is your favorite part about your work and why?

Dr. Morgan: There are two parts. The core meaning of my work is in helping advocate for more whole person care across the country. On a more practical level, I love getting to see the creativity of people around the country in doing so much with so little and finding answers to complex questions despite barriers. I really have fun being presented with policy and evaluation questions and figuring out ways to answer them and even enhance them with more complete, accurate information.

KAIP: Why do you do what you do/what inspires you?

Dr. Morgan: Making a difference in our policies, systems, and structures so more people get the care they need in a holistic way.

KAIP: How does data and semantics inform your work and how you approach problems?

Dr. Morgan: My dissertation was qualitative (on exemplar Muslim and Christian interfaith peacemakers), so I’ve long been a skeptic of quantitative data’s ability to represent human experiences and true outcomes. However, I’ve increasingly recognized we live in a quantitative world, and discrete numbers are really helpful for telling a story of broad impact. It’s easy to complain about the metrics we currently have, but I decided it was better to get a seat at the table and influence the metrics to push for more whole person, strengths-based indicators and data rather than just have it all imposed upon me.

This is core to a lot of my work, finding ways to be creative in meeting required, symptom-focused metrics while contributing more contextual information to tell a more complete, accurate story. I had a great team when I was the Chief of Behavioral Health Informatics at the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, and we found ways of even using claims data to get a more complete story!

In that role, I got to present at the SAS Analytics Experience conference and discovered text analytics and natural language processing. I talked the ear off the product manager because it brought me back to my grad school days with my dissertation and some computation linguistics work we did. Advances in technology are helping unlock narrative and qualitative data which, especially in behavioral health, is so rich and gives an opportunity to give an even more whole person perspective.

We can explore more robust mixed-methods designs by leveraging technology to present both quantitative and qualitative data. That’s truly more whole person analytics!

KAIP: Can you explain the intersection of data and semantics in the public sector, and why it matters?

Dr. Morgan: First, we need to remember that data is a very inclusive term. People usually think about structured, quantitative information when they hear the word data, but all information is data. This interview is data. Semantics usually refers to narratives, language, and other qualitative data. As my dissertation was qualitative, I deeply value and appreciate the richness that can be found in semantics. There’s human nuance that just cannot be captured in a quantitative way. Further, when we talk about things like health equity and civic engagement in the public sector, the voice of the consumer, the citizen, the patient, etc., is of paramount importance. Wouldn’t it be great to literally gain insights from the voices our public agencies serve?

The public sector is also unique in that it is the only institution that is truly responsible for all lives and making our communities better holistically. All other private entities have sub-segments, geographies, or populations.

Public agencies cross all industries. Therefore, there is a unique ability to gain a true whole person view into the community that no other institution can really gain.

In this way, though, I believe public agencies have a responsibility to get as complete a view as possible, meaning both quantitative and qualitative data.

KAIP: Can you give an example of using data and semantics to create policy and drive change in the public sector?

Dr. Morgan: When I was with the San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health, we developed a program to conduct outreach and engagement with “resistant, non-compliant” people. One of our evaluation metrics was pretty basic, looking at counts of outpatient utilization pre and post engagement. The first time my team ran the numbers, we showed dozens of visits in the year before engagement. But these were supposed to be those who weren’t in treatment because they were called “resistant and non-compliant.” Digging into the data a little more, we found the nature of the services was overwhelmingly crisis visits and assessments (often multiple assessments with different providers). People who are repeatedly seeking assessments and even crisis visits within a 12-month period are really hard to classify as “resistant.”

This started a conversation internally about whether our language in describing people was accurate in the first place. Then we were able to gain more context from the stories of the consumers served and the care coordination staff who engaged with these folks and even went to appointments with the consumers. Plus, we had focus groups and other narrative stories.

These stories (i.e., semantic data) gave context and insight into the quantitative data we saw, shedding light on the ways our system can be challenging to engage with. It started changing our semantics in describing people in need. No longer did we see these folks as “resistant and non-complaint,” but rather desiring help and facing legitimate barriers to care. That also led to quality improvement policy work to change our system to be more accessible. These insights are also helpful in larger policy conversations about how to engage the harder to reach, high utilization, and expensive populations. It may not be that the consumers need to change as much as the systems aimed to help them need to change.

KAIP: What questions should we ask ourselves to make sure we approach/analyze data in the right way?

Dr. Morgan: Who are we not including in the data? Who are we not including in the interpretation process? In the many conversations around biased algorithms and AI ethics, there’s increasing recognition that we can unintentionally have biased data and results by the absence of some populations. We may not be able to include everyone but attempting to do so is a start. It is critical that we are very clear and intentional about who is included and not included and that we are sure to avoid generalizing results to excluded populations.

What questions am I not asking? Too often I find agencies, especially in the public sector and health, not asking questions because we don’t know how to find the answer. Often this is because of a lack of data or a lack of a data platform to truly unlock insights.

I think people have more helpful data than they realize. There are ways to be creative in answering questions.

It may not be perfect, but proxies can be really helpful in getting at certain ideas. Just because you may not have a perfect methodology or result doesn’t mean you can’t do something to start getting at the information. You can caveat any results so they are not over-interpreted, but starting to explore the questions we stop asking helps get us to more whole person perspectives.

KAIP: How should data be used to inform and drive decision-makers, policies, etc.? How should it not be used?

Dr. Morgan: Data should be the start of the story and conversation and not the end. Some people approach results as the end-all-be-all, but interpretation and application is key. Stakeholder engagement in this interpretation process can gain additional insights and conversations that may not have otherwise occurred if we took data at face value. Data doesn’t just inform decisions and policies; it brings us all together to build dialogue and more compassion for each other by having greater insights into context.

We also need to be careful about “perfect” methodology. A danger in a lot of policymaking and decision-maker requests for data is a default to an academic-like approach. I teach on the side and have published, so I love the academic world. However, laboratory research often doesn’t translate to the messy real-life world, especially in health and particularly in public sector health and social services. I’ve seen a lot of evaluation projects and data initiatives stall because there was any level of data quality challenges or an inability to achieve extreme rigor in statistical significance. We don’t want to dismiss rigor, of course, but when we look at trends across populations, numbers don’t have to be perfect. I use the example of suicide rates and opioid use and deaths. They’re both broadly recognized as undercounts because of the way they’re underreported. But we can still tell when there’s a problem or a trend in a good or a bad direction. Don’t wait for data perfection to start using the data and even starting policy conversations!

Thank you, Dr. Morgan, for your fascinating insights on using data to public policy and public services. Now, for a little fun and games…

KAIP: What was the last show you binge-watched or what is your favorite podcast?

Dr. Morgan: Star Trek Discovery. I grew up on The Next Generation and wore a Star Trek uniform for my fourth-grade school picture, so I’m a long-time Trekker. I watched this series and then thought after Season 2 that my wife would like it, so we just binged both seasons in time for San Diego Comic Con! 🖖

KAIP: What are your favorite productivity or life tips/hacks?

Dr. Morgan: Mindfulness. I was exposed to this more deeply in my clinical work during an intensive training in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) when I led a program for adolescent self-injury. As I’ve done intro trainings on mindfulness and DBT, I’ve shared many of the mindfulness principles that have been more helpful in my personal life than in my clinical work!

One example is the principle of effectiveness. I can get stuck in considering what’s right or wrong and delay decisions. When I frame things in terms of effectiveness, it helps reconsider what the long-term goals of the work are and what will practically get us/me there. When I remember to be mindful in this way, I can get unstuck pretty quickly.

KAIP: What are your favorite digital tools/apps?

Dr. Morgan: I travel a lot, so I love my headphones. To the point of mindfulness above, I’ve enjoyed the 10% Happier app as a way to dive deeper into meditation approaches and principles in a scientific way. I also just started subscribing to Calm. It includes a lot of music tracks that are great for flights or even just focusing (or relaxing for sleep). The free chair massages in some airports are a great way to spend some layovers!

Pocket is a great app to collect articles I don’t want to read immediately and then read (often on a plane). I use Evernote for a variety of personal notes and OneNote for my work notes, especially since it synchronizes across my devices. I have an electronic notepad that I can easily take photos of in OneNote and have them on my desktop later.

I also rely on the Associated Press app for news alerts and catching up on the day’s happenings. Although reading the news in bed isn’t the best way to mindfully prepare for sleep…

KAIP: What is your favorite professional book and why?

Dr. Morgan: Tribal Leadership was a book I was exposed to during a leadership course. Its principles have stuck with me, as it talks about corporate and personal culture and values in a new way that can help identify congruency with your own values and challenge where you and your company are. It helps reshape ideas about competition. In the highest stage of development, we’re not focused on “winning” over someone else (meaning they lose), but rather, we’re going to compete with major human problems, like poverty, cancer, homelessness, etc. Winning isn’t about another company, but about moving our world forward. This book helped me evaluate SAS as an employer and was a reason I took a job with SAS—the whole Data for Good initiative is focused on these higher ideals, and we are actually able to make a difference in our world across industries!

KAI Partners is committed to helping find solutions and improvements in our community—we know this is imperative to achieving a stronger, more resilient Sacramento—and we are excited that Dr. Morgan shares this passion with us!

About Dr. Josh Morgan: As SAS’ National Director of Behavioral Health and Whole Person Care, Dr. Josh Morgan helps health agencies use data and analytics to support a person-centered approach to improving health outcomes. A licensed psychologist, Dr. Morgan was previously San Bernardino County Department of Behavioral Health’s Chief of Behavioral Health Informatics. His clinical work includes adolescent self-injury, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs, psychiatric inpatient units and university counseling centers. Dr. Morgan earned his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PsyD (Doctor of Psychology) in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Family Psychology from Azusa Pacific University and is trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Bonus reading: Here are a few articles by Dr. Morgan that we found compelling:

Sacramento ARMA Records Knowledge Conference Event Recap

Conferences, Cyber Security, Data Management, Government, Information Security, Information Technology, Innovation in the Public Sector, IT Modernization, IT Security, KAI Partners, Public Sector, Ransomware, Risk Assessment, Sacramento, Technology

By Jamal Hartenstein, JD, CISSP, CGEIT, PMP

The Greater Sacramento Capitol Chapter of ARMA recently held its annual Records Knowledge Conference, which brought together records managers from city, county, and state clerk offices.

According to our local ARMA chapter, ARMA is dedicated to providing education and resources to those in the Records Management and Information Governance fields. They are committed to enhancing Records Management and Information Governance professionals through training, networking, leadership, and outreach.

The conference attendees brought a sense of eagerness to learn and share—ARMA chapter leadership gave event attendees a special opportunity to hear from world-class speakers—including and a lead researcher on the IBM Watson project, Dr. Ashish Kundu—on some of the most important and cutting-edge topics.

Along with a formidable group CEOs, I was honored to be asked to speak about Cybersecurity Threats to Information Governance. Highlights of the event and major takeaways included:

  • Understanding what data you have, who accesses it, and where it goes is paramount.
  • Conflicts among document retention policies, industry best practices, and laws suggest that we seek out and use the highest common denominator.
  • Trending topics and buzzwords the government sector include players like Smart Communities, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital ID, Blockchain, NIST, and the KAI Partners approach to security assessments.
  • Data Migrations are underway. Records Managers who respond to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for public records or subpoena must deliver records formats adhering to general business practices, which may be legacy.
  • Regarding Third Party Risk Management (TPRM), cloud services, and Business Associate Agreements, liability points back to the data controller regardless of contracts with data processors or third parties.
  • Mobile device management and data/device ownership remain a point of contention and confusion during public record requests.
  • Innovation is forcing a cultural shift in workforce demands and understandings of emerging technologies.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions can be used to categorize and classify data, performing some of the tasks of current Data Custodians and Data Owners.
  • While AI may not replace Records Managers, Records Managers who understand and embrace AI will inevitably replace those who do not.

Public sector IT innovation and modernization means systems and processes change rapidly. One example of this is California Assembly Bill 2658, recently signed into law by the governor. This new law updates the definition of an Electronic Record to include blockchain and smart contracts as legally recognized records. It sends a clear signal that digital records management, particularly blockchain technology and smart contracts, are priorities for a more innovative and dynamic public sector.

This new law impacts public records requests because entries logged in public agency-owned private blockchains are electronic records. These records are susceptible to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Records Managers may benefit from technology that makes the identification and delivery of public records to requestors easier. It may also create convenience for those exercising Public Records Act (PRA) requests. It’s a double-edged sword; it streamlines the processes but increases PRA volume at the same time.

The discussion of the California blockchain law was one most important topics discussed at the ARMA event. Another popular topic was IT Security Assessments.

The urgency in public sector data governance and records management is an incredible opportunity to embed IT security controls for the public sector personnel working at the heart of the ever-expanding challenges.

KAI Partners performs security assessments to address the multitude of challenges facing the public sector. Our assessments help ensure secure and efficient delivery systems where the organizational objectives align with the development of strategic plans and programs. In addition, KAI Partners’ training division—KAIP Academy—works to address technical skills gaps. Our training courses include ITIL, Project Management, Agile/Scrum, and more.

Were you at the ARMA Conference? What were your biggest takeaways about public sector innovation?

About the Author: IT Security Program Manager at KAI Partners, Jamal Hartenstein is a cybersecurity legal expert who has helped some of the country’s largest financial institutions, healthcare companies, and federal agencies develop their IT Security Roadmap programs. In his current role, Jamal provides guidance to executive staff and security professionals on laws, frameworks, and policies that help shape their strategic plan, and helps organizations innovate safely and securely. Prior to working for KAI Partners, Jamal served as an Electronic Warfare Sergeant in the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Corps, where he was a steward for Defense Information Systems Agency (DISA) framework. He earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia Military College and his Juris Doctorate from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in California.

KAI Partners Staff Profile: The Senior Project Manager

Government, Healthcare, Innovation in the Public Sector, KAI Partners, KAI Partners Staff Profile, Learning, Project Management, Project Management Professional (PMP), Public Sector, Sacramento, Training

There are many paths to success and while not everyone takes the same path, we often manage to arrive at the same destination. In our KAI Partners Staff Profile series, we share interviews and insight from some of our own employees here at KAI Partners. Our staff brings a diversity in education, professional, and life experience, all of which demonstrate that the traditional route is not necessarily the one that must be traveled in order to achieve success.

Today, we bring you the journey of Nick Sherrell, a Senior Project Manager who works with the Project Management Office for one of KAI Partners’ public sector health care clients.

KAI Partners, Inc.: How did you get into your line of work?

Nick: Oddly enough, it all started with me wanting to become a Physician Assistant! Part of getting into a PA program requires shadowing an acting PA and gaining hands-on experience into the nature of the work. While shadowing a PA at the Sacramento Native American Health Center (SNAHC), I ended up being offered an opportunity to work for the clinic as a Patient Care Coordinator. My experience in this role opened my eyes to the number of challenges people faced in interacting with the health care system as a whole. Many people struggle to gain access to affordable, quality health care. This role changed my career trajectory from clinical care to wanting to help be a part of impacting the system to ensure more people are able to access quality care and live healthier lives. From then on, I have worked in roles gaining more and more experience and responsibility doing work within health care systems. This ultimately led to roles in Quality, Performance Improvement, Tech Implementation, Clinical Variation Reduction, and Project Management.

KAI: Are there any certifications or trainings you’ve gone through that have helped in your career?

Nick: Absolutely! The first thing I realized when I made my decision to move from clinical care to administration was that I needed to gain more knowledge of business. My college career to that point focused heavily on the Sciences (Psychology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, etc.). I decided to go back to school to obtain an MBA at UC Davis. This experience helped my career TREMENDOUSLY!

KAI: What is your favorite part about your line of work and why?

Nick: I love seeing hard work translate into better process and more efficient systems and seeing that work reverberate throughout the community.

KAI: What is one of the most common questions you receive from clients and what counsel or advice do you give them?

Nick: A question I often get is “how can we get better at what we are doing?” My counsel or advice is usually based in first knowing where you are, embracing the imperfection, and building a measurable path to improvement through multiple small steps. Too often I encounter organizations that have a fear-based culture when it comes to metrics. It usually starts with a manager or executive who reviews metrics and lashes out at any report that spits out anything in red ink. Staff become afraid of being the messenger of sharing the red ink information, and then ultimately (and sometimes subconsciously) start to do things to prevent the red.

My advice, EMBRACE THE RED! Red doesn’t necessarily mean poor performance, it means an opportunity to work together to improve something. For me, it’s more of a Eureka moment!

Now that we’ve learned more about Nick’s background and project management work, here’s a little more about him!

Quick Q&A with Nick:

Daily, must-visit website: MLB At-Bat App. ALL the highlights!

Preferred genre of music or podcast to listen to:  Usually of the Rock / Blues / Acoustic variety. Podcasts, anything funny! Right now, I’m listening to ‘Conan Needs A Friend.’ Good stuff!

Best professional advice received: Measure it, but make it worth measuring!

Book you can read over and over again: Dragons Love Tacos (guess who has a two-year-old?!)

Most-recent binge-watched show: Game of Thrones.

About Nick: Nick Sherrell is a Project Manager with over 10 years of healthcare experience ranging from Quality, Performance Improvement, Technology Implementation, Data Analysis, and Consulting. Nick has worked with organizations ranging from the Sacramento Native American Health Center, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, Blue Shield of California, and The Advisory Board Company. He currently works for KAI Partners, Inc as a Project Manager Consultant on a Public contract with the State of California. He received his MBA from UC Davis in 2015 with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior and Innovation. He became a Certified ScrumMaster in 2018 through Scrum Alliance training offered at KAIP Academy. He lives in Sacramento with his wife, two children, and Golden Retriever Emma. Find Nick on LinkedIn here.

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