Every issue of Cornerstone will feature an Academic Staff Profile. These profiles will share the breadth and depth of Academic Staff positions at UW–Madison and highlight their contributions. In this issue we feature Steve Bialek, an internal consultant with the Office of Strategic Consulting.
Tell us a bit about your role and responsibilities at UW–Madison.
I am an internal consultant with the Office of Strategic Consulting working across the university on projects that help improve organizational effectiveness. Much of my work is focused on processes and data, but people are the center of my approach, helping them come together, solve problems, and set common goals.
Which of your projects has been most rewarding?
My involvement in the university’s COVID response efforts has been my most rewarding work. I had the chance to meet and work with so many hard-working, committed people supporting Emergency Operations Center at the outset, through Smart Restart, Badger Safe Badge, and the Immunization Campaign. The level of dedication and collegiality was quite extraordinary!
How has your work experience been shaped by shared governance?
I find the Academic Staff Assembly meetings to be a good source of information. Featured speakers always share insights into important topics, committee reports let me learn about the many ways staff contribute, and hearing from the chancellor and provost provides a chance to engage campus leaders.
What have you learned from participating in academic staff activities?
University Roundtable programs have been a great way for me to meet staff colleagues who work in a variety of areas across campus. I especially like hearing from the wide range of speakers. The topics presented always provide me with a reminder that we work at a world-class university that has a role in helping to make the world a better place.
What’s your favorite place on campus for a break?
I have no particular “take a break” location, but I always enjoy being out and about campus and seeing all the places where learning is taking place. Obviously, classrooms are interesting, but I love seeing all the places students, staff and faculty find to work together in small groups or to tuck themselves away in a corner to read a book or paper. I’m not sure the exact number of classrooms and labs at the university, but I’m pretty sure there are hundreds more informal learning spaces. You can see learning happening everywhere on campus. Great way to take a break!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I first worked at UW–Madison in the late 1990s. A colleague of mine invited me to dinner with the intent to introduce me to a friend of their family. That family friend became my spouse. We now live in Oconomowoc where she works as a school counselor. We have two daughters – both of whom are Gophers working on their undergraduate degrees. While they are not Badgers, they do report that football games in Minneapolis are nowhere near as fun as the ones they’ve experienced in Madison.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I worked as an auto mechanic through my teens and early twenties. I have far too many tools in my garage, but I still use many of them to do maintenance on my own vehicles. My goal is to never spend more than $100 on parts (love eBay). It’s common to pay a repair shop $500 or more to have brakes repaired, but it cost me less than 1/10th that amount to do it myself, with the extra benefit of the great therapy this work provides me!
At the end of October, I saw Queen + Adam Lambert in St. Paul. My daughters are fans of the movie Bohemian Rhapsody. The movie and songs have played in our house dozens of times and my gift last Father’s Day was four tickets to the concert. Great show, although the age of the audience skewed older than my daughters anticipated. I told them it was like Disney World, but for boomers.