June 16, 2021
When did you join UTHealth? What brought you here?
I first came to UTHealth in 1994. At that time, I was working on my finance and management degree at the University of Houston and wasn’t clear on what exactly I wanted to do after graduating. The opportunity to work in finance and administration was extremely appealing to me as a way to get some real-world experience, and it turned out to be the beginning of my career. I started out as a casual employee and never looked back.
Tell me about your work history here.
I have worked in the chief operating officer office for my 27 years at UTHealth. In the beginning, I rotated through several departments within Administration and Finance (A&F) to lend a hand where needed. This was great experience because it allowed me to learn firsthand about each individual area and function under A&F. I spent a good amount of time working with Accounting, Budget, Continuous Quality Improvement and ultimately worked for John Porretto, then EVP A&F, and Jackie Raymond, John’s chief of staff.
After my graduation from U of H, I joined the university full time and worked for Jackie until she retired in 2000, and John until 2003. Shortly after, I was fortunate to begin working for Kevin Dillon, whom I’ve worked for ever since.
“Ana has played a critical and irreplaceable role in the administration of the COO’s office for more than two decades,” Kevin Dillon said. “Everyone in my office depends on her assistance and guidance, as do my direct reports and people all across our six schools. It’s been a privilege watching her career progress to now becoming the chief of staff for the Office of the COO. She is a very qualified and skilled employee who I rely on daily.”
Over the years, my roles and responsibilities have grown and changed along with his, as well as the growth and changes of the university itself. So while I’ve been in the same place for 27 years, it has been a different and evolving job from year to year.
What are you most proud of accomplishing?
The professional relationships I’ve cultivated throughout my time at UTHealth are invaluable to me. My job puts me in the unique position of working closely with the executive offices as well as the schools and administration. I’ve had the opportunity to build strong relationships with wonderful people that have given me a perspective into every facet of our organization.
My main goal has always been customer service, to do what I can to help provide the UTHealth community with the direction and aid they need from our office in order to accomplish their tasks. And I feel that, thanks to the relationships I’ve built over the years, we’ve been able to collaborate consistently to help keep things moving, evolving, and improving.
So, I am most proud of being able to use this unique position to make a positive impact in helping the UTHealth community meet its goals while at the same time always doing my best to communicate the goals and directions of executive leaders. It can be a challenge at times, but it is always rewarding.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
The people I get to work with every day make all the difference. My job gives me the opportunity to interact with a variety of people throughout our schools and administration. I get exposure to diverse perspectives and experiences that I’m not sure I could get anywhere else. I enjoy the challenges each new day brings, but the people that I get to collaborate with are what make UTHealth a wonderful place to work.
Why have you stayed?
Why would I leave? I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work for and with great people here at UTHealth who have given me professional guidance throughout my career. But it’s really thanks to Kevin Dillon that I’m still here after all this time. Through his leadership I’ve been empowered to cultivate a position within the organization where I not only feel trusted, but my contributions are valued. And still today, after 27 years, I am consistently presented with new opportunities for growth, collaboration, and knowledge. Each day is unique, and that is something I really appreciate.
When you are not at work, how do you spend your time?
When I’m not in the office, my focus is on my two teenage sons. Thanks to them, I’ve surprisingly become a bit of a sports fan. I spend many hours cheering them on from the sidelines of soccer, basketball, and rugby games. And I’ve learned to love international soccer, and not just every four years for the World Cup (I never saw that coming!).
I’ve always enjoyed traveling and love visiting new places, trying new foods, and experiencing new cultures. This past year has obviously changed how we spend our time, and I’ve tried to find my creative side, including gardening (didn’t go too well at the beginning), painting projects, tie-dying shirts, and learning to cook some of my mom’s Argentine dishes.