Wed. Jun 12th, 2024

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Cisco’s advocacy community, Cisco Insider, brings our customers together and provides a way for them to make powerful connections, expand their professional and personal networks, and learn from top experts in the field. One of our goals is to deepen our relationships with our customers. Our Q&A series allows us to shine a spotlight on some of our most passionate advocates as we learn about their backgrounds.

Today we welcome Scott Sardella, IT Help Desk Manager at Cardiovascular Institute of the South.

Scott is a member of Cisco Insider Advocates, Webex Insiders, and he won tickets to see Taylor Swift through our Cisco Live competition!

 

Welcome Scott! Thanks for joining us today. Can you tell us about your career journey so far and what inspired you to take on your role at Cardiovascular Institute of the South?

Thank you for having me! My early days were spent racing motorcycles until an accident at 18 made me pivot to a serious career in IT. I was attracted to technology because of my love for learning new things and the constant challenges it presents. My entry to the healthcare sector was driven by a powerful incentive; the ability to enable people to do their jobs effectively means we’re contributing to saving lives, which is incredibly fulfilling for me. I joined the Cardiovascular Institute of the South (CIS) during a significant growth phase about nine years ago from about 400 to 1300 employees. Being a part of that expansion has been an incredible experience. Over the past two to three years, I’ve transitioned into a leadership role as a team lead, overseeing all of our support staff. I’m passionate about mentoring the individuals on my team and helping them grow into skilled professionals, much like I was earlier in my career. When I began at CIS, we were just starting to implement new electronic medical records. Now, every aspect of our records is fully electronic, and the growth has been exponential. It’s thrilling to be a part of the innovations CIS is undertaking. We pride ourselves on technological superiority, and I can confidently say that no other cardiology practice that I’m aware of matches our level of IT sophistication.

 

What does your day-to-day look like, what kinds of things are you thinking about the most?

My daily routine is quite dynamic. Ensuring that our company operates without a hitch is my top priority. However, what’s truly important to me is that our help desk and all our support staff are well-equipped. As with any IT role, my day-to-day responsibilities can vary greatly, but the ultimate goal is always to keep everyone satisfied and productive. Right now, I’m actively involved in expanding a few of our sister organizations which I wouldn’t be able to do without the solid support of my team. Their ability to grasp new challenges and run with them makes my job so much easier. I hold profound respect and trust for each member of our team, both my superiors and subordinates. It’s their hard work and understanding that allows me to focus on the broader aspects of our operations and I am beyond grateful for every single one of them.

 

Can you share a particularly memorable challenge you’ve faced in your role and how you overcame it?

Certainly, it’s quite timely that you bring this up. We’re currently deeply immersed in deploying Webex throughout our organization. On the surface, rolling out Webex may seem straightforward from an IT perspective, but the real challenge lies in educating users. Ensuring that everyone understands the full range of tools available to them and how to utilize these tools effectively has been a task of considerable scale, particularly when you’re aiming to reach 1300 individuals. We aimed to complete the Webex rollout to the entire company within an 8 week timeframe with training workshops included. It’s been a rapid deployment, and thankfully, we have a fantastic team. The support from Cisco TAC has been invaluable, and our account manager, Mark Rittiner, has been instrumental in connecting me with the right people to make this happen.

 

What are the strategic benefits you see transitioning to cloud calling, and how do you believe it aligns with the Institute’s future?

This might be the easiest questions in the world! Back in the day, the idea of relying on cloud-based solutions was daunting. There was a widespread uncertainty and lack of trust surrounding data security, regardless of vendor. Thankfully, Cisco has done a stellar job in this regard, and the entire perspective on cloud solutions has shifted. As our Institute continues to grow, adopting cloud-based technology seems not just a choice but an inevitability. The simplicity and accessibility of cloud solutions are unmatched – you can troubleshoot and manage systems from anywhere. Everything is unified particularly with tools like the Webex Control Hub, which I find extremely user-friendly. Plus, the ability to have your calling services and associated features follow you seamlessly across different devices and platforms is an incredible advantage that aligns perfectly with our institute’s direction towards innovation and efficiency.

 

How does the implementation of Cisco Meraki solutions fit into your vision for the institute’s growth?

I’ve been an avid fan of Meraki for quite some time now. Just like with Webex, Meraki offers us a unified dashboard that simplifies management across the board, allowing us to perform a multitude of tasks from a single interface. It’s a game-changer compared to juggling multiple systems at once. We introduced Meraki at CIS back in 2020. When the pandemic hit, we had to swiftly transition to a work-from-home model to keep operations running smoothly, just like everyone else. We opted for the Z3 and Z4 devices and have since deployed over a hundred of them, creating a seamless work environment for our staff, including our IT team. Currently, we’re experimenting with Meraki wireless solutions, and the experience has been very positive. The goal is to streamline our tech stack, and with Meraki and the Webex Control Hub, we’re able to manager so much with just a couple of interfaces. We recently started to implement Meraki WiFi, and the feedback from end users has been amazing.

 

In an industry with traditionally tight budgetary frameworks. what are your top strategies for doing more with less, and how do you prioritize investments in technology?

That’s an excellent questions because as we expand, the costs associated with growing our systems, teams, and all related elements can be quite significant as you can imagine. Our primary focus is always doing what’s right for the organization. Security is our top priority, especially as the cybersecurity landscape becomes increasingly daunting. That’s why we have our awesome Cybersecurity Analyst Wesley diligently monitoring our systems. When it comes to budgeting, we’re meticulous with planning. We trial and test thoroughly to determine which solutions will genuinely meet our needs. With so many options available for every problem, we can’t rush these decisions. The process can be more time-consuming than some might prefer, but it’s critical to ensure we’re making the right choices. Convincing leadership and finance teams to invest a significant amount of money in technology is never straightforward. My approach is rooted in collaboration and communication. I believe in working together and maintaining an open dialogue throughout the process. If there’s a difference of opinion, then it’s a matter of discussing those differences and reaching a consensus on whether and how to implement changes.

 

How do you stay informed about the latest technologies and trends in healthcare IT?

First off, like any IT professional, I’ve got quite a bit of a nerdy streak. I’m always eager to learn about new advancements, so I spend a fair amount of time researching and I’m subscribed to various newsletters. I’m also active in several different groups. One of the groups I’m privileged to be a part of for five years is Infragard, which is essentially a unique partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and individuals in the private sector. Then there’s my involvement in Cisco Insider Advocates and Webex Insiders. Being a Cisco Insider has been incredible advantageous because it means I’m often privy to new developments before the general public. It’s great to have a heads-up on what’s on the horizon with Cisco and the broader tech world, and how it all might fit together. Cisco Insider has provided me with a platform for limitless learning, and they manage to make it engaging and fun. Having a community of like-minded individuals to discuss and exchange ideas with is sometimes more helpful than talking to salespeople about their products. It’s invaluable to be able to ask someone about their experience first-hand – to understand why they made a certain shift, what the transition was like, and what it’s done for their organization.

 

You’re one of our Cisco Insider Advocate “Rockstars!” What made you want to join, and how has being a part of the community impacted you both professionally and personally?

Image of Scott Sardella with a quote about Cisco Insider

On a personal level, I’ve met some of the most incredible people through this community – individuals from all over the globe who think like I do. The relationships I’ve formed extend beyond just community members; I’ve also gotten to know some of the admins who run the Cisco Insider program. When I lost my father, who was not only the Director of IT at Terrebonne General for over 30 years but also my best friend and mentor, the Cisco Insider team showed me and my father an incredible amount of love and support. That period was tough for me, and their care meant the world. It’s shown me that this group values its members and upholds the core values the promote, which aligns with how I approach life and work.

 

Congratulation on winning Taylor Swift tickets through our Cisco Live competition! Are you a self-proclaimed Swiftie or what motivated you to enter the competition?

Honestly, it’s quite funny – I wasn’t a Swiftie when I entered the competition. I threw my hat in the ring simply because I thought, why not? I’ve never won anything significant in my life, and I knew my wife is a huge Taylor Swift fan. The tickets ended up being an incredible surprise because the concert fell on the weekend of my wife’s birthday, so it turned into a special birthday weekend trip for the two of us.

And let me tell you, after the concert, I’ve definitely become a Swiftie! Taylor Swift knows exactly how to captivate an audience and make sure everyone has a fantastic time. The concert, combined with the cutting-edge technology at Levi’s Stadium, was just the coolest thing ever. Cisco has been a constant presence in my professional life for many years. I’ve worked with Cisco solutions my entire career, and my previous job was also in a heavy Cisco environment. But Cisco has also made a significant impact on my personal life by offering opportunities like this one. This isn’t something you see from every company. It was, hands down, the most incredible experience for her – her first concert ever! We set the bar incredibly high, and I’m not sure how I’ll ever top that, but thanks to Cisco, we provided a birthday experience for my wife that she will remember forever.

Image of Scott Sardella and his wife at the Taylor Swift concert at Levi's Stadium Image of Scott Sardella and his wife at the Taylor Swift concert at Levi's Stadium

 

Lastly, what advice would you give to other IT professionals?

If I were to offer advice to fellow IT professionals, it would be to start by keeping an open mind. It’s easy in IT to become set in our ways, but it’s crucial to consider the thoughts and feelings of others. Regardless of our role in IT, our core responsibility is to support people. From the highest to the lowest level within the IT hierarchy, our purpose is to enable and assist others. We need to understand the challenges our users face so that we can offer the best support possible. I would also stress the importance of staying current with industry developments. If you’re involved with Cisco, for instance, I’d highly recommend joining the Cisco Insider community. It’s a program that rewards you for learning and provides you with the tools and knowledge to stay informed about what’s out there and how it works. Staying connected is key. And lastly, never lose sight of the ultimate objective in healthcare IT. At the end of the day, our job is to ensure the well-being of others. We may not be on the front lines of patient care, but out role is to facilitate the work of those who are, ensuring that people can lead happy, healthy, lives.

 

Read more advocate interviews

You might enjoy this interview with Cisco Insider Wouter Hindricks.

Join us!

For our customers who have already joined our Cisco Insider Advocates community, say hello to Tim if you haven’t met yet. And if you’re a Cisco customer but aren’t a community member, consider joining. You’ll be able to:

  • Connect with peers in a gamified, online community
  • Have an opportunity to meet with Cisco’s executives
  • Share your feedback, questions, and best practices
  • Get access to ‘insider’ content and resources
  • Grow your professional and personal brand
  • Amplify your company’s success story with Cisco technology

Ready to get started?

Head over to the Cisco Insider Advocates Community and say hello!

(Requires registration / login)

 

 

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