Meet Nicole Snethen, SSO Service Delivery Manager

Quick Summary

Meet Nicole Snethen, SSO Service Delivery Manager

Nicole's PICTURE

Nicole, you began your career in hospitality, spanning sales, operations and customer service.  How did this prepare you for your current role?

I worked for one of the top ten caterers in the South Bay. I got into it initially because of my enjoyment of people and understanding their needs when it comes to special events. My strengths are organization and detail. A lot of this was already built into my character, and this drew me to the industry. 

I started with a family-owned catering business focused on weddings, corporate events,  new product launches, and holiday parties. We took everything from our facility and set up food, service, and created a special experience for people. We were contracted for several events at Stanford University, like new student orientations. Interesting, given my role at UC Davis. 

What I did was operational - assembling teams, providing leadership, training, and creating an environment for people to learn and grow.  Interpersonal communication was one of the key skills I learned that definitely prepared me for my role at UC Davis.  My hands were in a lot of places, like human resources, payroll, budgeting and overseeing day to day operations. It was a very well-rounded industry. 

So going back to your formative days, you earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and a minor in Social Work from San Jose State.  What made you not pursue social work?

At that stage of my life, I had an “idea” of what this work would be like, which required a lot of the same skills like empathy, communication and people-oriented work.  But I realized I could ultimately apply these skills better in a business environment.  

You were artistic in school, studying the cello.  Who were your role models and did your parents stress the arts?

My teachers had a big impact on me, however it was my mother who instilled a sense of discipline. She came from a family of five and as such, there was a lot of structure in my family growing up.

We learned to be disciplined and to see things through.  She wanted us to have something in our lives we could be good at and be passionate about. Between her laying that foundation, and the influences of the teachers I crossed paths with, the die was set.  For instance, I remember my fifth-grade teacher making the classroom and learning fun, and how my swim coach significantly improved my swimming skills. I was lucky to be able to witness myself grow. 

Define passion in the context of work, and share something you’re passionate about.

This has definitely changed over time. I think initially I just loved being a subject matter expert in the hospitality industry, knowing every in and out, and year after year constantly learning and growing professionally.  Passion is becoming an expert at what you do. It’s seamless. It’s when you get to that point where you can move things forward faster, and better.  That was my passion.

What’s interesting is that over the years, and even more so after coming to UC Davis, I’m really passionate about leading my teams. Even though it doesn’t come easily for me, and it takes a lot of presence and building relationships, I’ve seen more fruit come out of that.

Being able to see others do better, and grow, and be able to do things they want to because of support I’m able to provide, that’s where my passion lies now. 

What do you see as the future for the SSO, given where we are now and what got us here?

I think the Shared Services Organization, under the Human Resources umbrella, has done some incredible things in the last ten years, given all the priorities that have been set. 

We have really committed to the vision. What I see for the future is us taking more risks, doing more heavy lifting, and creating even more momentum. 

At the foundation of it, I feel this centers around process, and making continuous improvement the focus. I think there’s so much room for growth, to be working more effectively and more efficiently, so at the end of our workday we walk away feeling more success.  I really see the SSO going far.

Great stuff, Nicole.  If you were doing the interview, what question would you ask yourself?

It would be around what UC Davis has taught me: UC Davis has allowed me to be okay with things that I can’t control, and be okay with not having control of things. I take a different approach to my day now.  I come in with a plan, and it’s really not up to me as to where things take me.  As long as I am intentional, show up, and do the best I can, I don’t have to let a lack of control stress me out or make me anxious. I’ve really learned to not be reactive. I like to step back when something happens and take a few minutes.

Seventy five percent of the things that come my way don’t need to be stress-inducing. It’s more about learning how to handle situations.