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University Finance and Administration

FLT Profile: Stephanie K. Reed

Get to know University Finance and Administration’s (UFA’s) Financial Leadership Team (FLT) through our FLT Profile series. Featuring Q&As with each FLT member, the series paints a portrait of who our leaders are—outside of the office.

UFA’s FLT is comprised of 12 individuals: Adam Day, J. Michael Gower, John Fahey, Jason MacDonald, David B. Moore, Nimish Patel, Ruth Philo, Stephanie K. Reed, José M. Román, Eugene Simon, William Troy, and Kim Yozgat.

This profile features Stephanie K. Reed, senior director, Culture and Communications.

Tell us about your first job.

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Stephanie K. Reed, senior director, Culture and Communications

"I started my first 'communications' job as an administrative assistant at Society Hill at University Heights in Newark, the summer before earning my undergraduate degree in English from Rutgers College. During my time there, I was promoted from administrative assistant to assistant property manager to property manager before taking a wait for it finance job as an underwriting specialist. Back to Society Hill…My on-the-job learning experience was more like trial by fire as I assumed different roles and worked with multiple stakeholders with virtually no communications background and barely any formal training or coaching.

Still, I began to learn the value of communications and public relations in that job. I initiated an informative community newsletter for residents, prepared an assortment of materials for meetings between the Board of Trustees and homeowners, exhibited patience and resourcefulness when assisting disgruntled residents with issues related to their property, and managed the reputation of the property management company as a desirable partner for that community. I resigned after five years to pursue my graduate degree in public relations because I was eager to advance my education and career by connecting people, information, and ideas through news and stories."

What is your favorite and/or least favorite aspect of your job? 

"Can I share two favorites? One great aspect of my job is that I don't know what it's like to have a 'typical' day. Even when I am working on routine activities, I have a generous degree of latitude to apply new approaches and technology so the end product (video, process, website, event, etc.) could be different, and hopefully better, every time.

My other favorite part of my job is that I interact with people from many departments across Rutgers to ask for or offer guidance, to listen and learn, and to introduce people I think should know each other. All those exchanges make me better in my role but listening has the greatest return on investment of my time and energy. I enjoy listening to people talk about topics that matter to them as much as they appreciate having me ask about those things. There have been countless times when someone lit up because I was genuinely interested in hearing what they had to say. So, when I ask, 'Do other people know about this?' or 'Would you be willing to share this with others?' it's not to make people cringe but to encourage them to tell their story.

People typically don't go around announcing all the important work that they do and the wonderful activities they’re involved in. But they do appreciate when others recognize their contributions and show interest in what they might think is "just my job." When I can persuade one person to share their experience and it inspires someone else, then the conversation was well worth my time and energy.

One of my least favorite aspects of the job is when someone asks, 'Can you make this pretty?' I don't think that people say it to be mean-spirited because sometimes I work on communications that need to be eye-catching. At the same time, 'pretty' diminishes the skill and planning that goes into delivering new or complicated information in ways that appeal to diverse audiences and is suited for different formats."

What is your best habit at work, and what is your worst? 

"My best habit is starting work early, sometimes by 7:00 a.m. That's when the day is most peaceful, whether I'm at home or in the office, and I can get going without interruption. My worst habit is thinking, 'I'm going to finish this last thing in 15 minutes, then I'll definitely be done for today.' There have been too many days when I was still on the computer 90 minutes later wondering, 'How'd I let this happen again?'"

What is your favorite music genre and/or your favorite “get pumped” song and why?

"I listen to a wide variety of music — Spanish guitar, classical, Afrobeats, Tibetan singing bowls, bebop jazz, disco — but my favorite genre is hip-hop, specifically, hip-hop's golden era from the mid-'80s to the mid-'90s. Artists who were emerging during that period were producing content that was gritty, conscientious, and Afrocentric, including Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, Queen Latifah, and Rakim. Others were putting out music that was lighter but still delivered relatable messages over solid beats, like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick, and Salt N' Pepa."

Is there a TV show you’re mid-binge on?

"I recently finished watching all episodes of Abbott Elementary. It's literally laugh out loud funny! The entire cast is great but Eva, the principal, is my favorite. She's ridiculously self-absorbed and snarky, and watching her crack herself up makes me laugh even harder."

What is your guilty pleasure?

"My guilty pleasure is bread! Cornbread, sourdough bowls, sprouted bread, potato bread, loaves with seeds and nuts, injera, biscuits, and naan. I love to eat bread with butter, with cheese, or plain. I also like dessert breads like banana and zucchini bread, and bread pudding. Delish!"