eAIR recently caught up with Sandi Bramblett, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Research & Enterprise Data Management, Georgia Institute of Technology, and former AIR Board member, about IR, her current role, and the value of AIR membership.
eAIR: What led you to a career in IR?
Like a lot of people in this profession, my entry in IR was completely random. My career started in auditing and then switched to grant & contracts which, because Georgia Tech is a research institution, exposed me to the finance and administration side of higher education. I learned all I could about research, contracts, facilities & administrative costs, etc. and I thought I’d stay in finance. The position in IR gave me an opportunity to learn even more about higher education because it touched everything from student success to space allocation to human resources policy and of course, finance and research. I loved the variety of the issues my team and I are tasked with addressing and the opportunity to dive into a problem and develop solutions.
eAIR: What are some of the interesting and challenging aspects of your current role in Enterprise Data Management?
The role in Enterprise Data Management is very interesting because it enabled my team and me to create a capacity around an enterprise data warehouse, business intelligence and data governance at the institutional level. Several of our IR folks eagerly joined the EDM team to get it up and running and we haven’t looked back. Our success wouldn’t have happened without our strong partnerships with others units on campus such as the Office of Information Technology, Academic Affairs and Research Administration. The advocacy of the executive leadership team is also critical. They hold us accountable for the investment they made in us so we have to ensure they are getting a return on that investment. We hired great people to run both EDM and IR and their respective teams are redefining what it means to have this analytics capacity in higher education.
eAIR: Can you tell us a little about your experience teaching the GT 1000 course at Georgia Tech?
I’ve been co-teaching our freshman seminar, GT1000, since 2003 and I love it!! Working with new students at Georgia Tech reminds me what higher education is all about…teaching and learning. I learn as much from my students as they do from me plus since the course enrollment is purposely capped at 20 students, I get to know them really well. The biggest takeaway for the students is that they have someone who’s in their corner from the time they step into my classroom. There’s nothing like seeing them mature and really come into their own. The rewards definitely outweigh the time requirement and it’s even taught me a few things about raising children, as my sons will tell you.
eAIR: As a longtime AIR member, what would you say to someone who hasn't yet renewed their AIR membership?
What? I’m a “longtime AIR member”? Nobody told me that! It seems like it was just yesterday I was attending the Foundations Institute at Northern Kentucky University!! Seriously, my membership in AIR gives me access to resources I need to do my job. From educational opportunities (such as the Holistic Approach to Institutional Research, IPEDS training, and subject-oriented webinars) to the Annual Forum to research on the profession, AIR provides all of the tools required for one to build a career in IR and analytics in higher education. Probably the greatest gift I’ve received from AIR is the relationships with my colleagues all over the world. Thanks to AIR, I have mentors who I can reach out to at any time for a sanity check or a “what would you do?” conversation. I have colleagues who are at the cutting edge of our profession. Most importantly, some of my best friendships were made because I’m an AIR member so for me, there is no greater return on investment!