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Faces of ISACA: Susan Snedaker, CISM

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Susan SnedakerEditor’s note: This week, ISACA Now’s “Faces of ISACA” series is highlighting female members who have made outstanding contributions to the technology workforce leading up to International Women’s Day on 8 March. Today, we highlight Susan Snedaker, director of infrastructure and operations at Tucson Medical Center (USA) and the author of this year’s HIMSS Book of the Year.

Join @isacanews, @justinembone @observacious & @shyama_rose for an International Women’s Day Twitter Chat on 8 March, 1-2 PM EST. Have your questions and comments ready. Use #ISACAChat and #IWD2018 to be a part of the live conversation.

Susan Snedaker and her colleagues are tasked with solving what she describes as “complex, difficult and sometimes almost impossible” problems through technology.

That may sound daunting, but Snedaker relishes the challenge. The ISACA member serves as director of infrastructure and operations at Tucson Medical Center in Tucson, Arizona, USA. She and her team ensure systems, networks and medical devices are operating smoothly, and often are pulled into projects that Snedaker finds fascinating.

“We recently implemented a solution that takes the waveforms from cardiac monitoring, turns them into PDF files and automatically files them in the correct patient’s medical record,” Snedaker said. “With our ability to provide secure remote access, the cardiologist can be at home or in his or her office and see this data. It’s been a significant improvement for our medical staff and it has improved efficiency for nurses as well. Those are the kind of projects that improve the patient experience, improve the provider experience and lower costs. That’s what’s so compelling about healthcare IT.”

Snedaker’s contributions in healthcare IT extend beyond her work at Tucson Medical Center. She recently authored a book, Leading Healthcare IT: Managing to Succeed that was recognized by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) as its book of the year. The award recognizes one book per year that provides actionable guidance on healthcare IT leadership.

“I wanted to write this book to do a brain dump of everything I’ve learned so far in my career and to provide a playbook for people who want to improve their leadership skills or mentor others,” said Snedaker, who is fresh off authoring another book with two colleagues on applying principles of lean process improvement to electronic health records.

Snedaker said she always has been interested in technology and credits a technology training program for helping her envision the different directions her career could take. She said adding ISACA’s CISM certification “provided an excellent framework” once her career gravitated toward security management.

Before moving into her current position, Snedaker’s career experience included a stint as a technical support engineer at Microsoft during which she served on the executive escalation team and, later, a role in which she worked with Microsoft as her client while acting as director of client services for Keane. Snedaker said her time at Microsoft reinforced the value of an intentional organizational culture, especially one that encourages collaboration and diversity. She credits Microsoft with doing “an amazing job porting their culture to new locations and new business lines because they spent time, money, and attention on developing and maintaining that culture.”

“I’ve seen it time and again where different points of view, different ways of processing information, lead to a much better outcome because all facets of a problem or situation are properly vetted,” Snedaker said. “And, there is ample scientific evidence that supports this approach to generating better results. If I had one piece of advice for anyone on a technical team, or any team, really, it would be to respect these differences and actively work to understand different points of view.”

When Snedaker is not working or writing, she enjoys exploring Arizona’s cycling and hiking paths. As for her career path, Snedaker never has second-guessed her emphasis on technology.

“Technology has continued to fascinate me because it’s used in every industry and it changes all the time – so there’s no limit to what I can do with the skills I gain,” she said. “I think that’s what initially intrigued me about a career in computer technology and what keeps me engaged with technology today.”


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