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UW Finance Transformation

UWFT VOICES: Andreas Bohman, Vice President, UW-IT & CIO; Program Sponsor, UW Finance Transformation

UW Finance Transformation

Becoming a better leader through selfless service and active listening

June 22, 2022

Andreas Bohman has more than 20 years of technology, security and operations leadership experience. He served as the chief information security officer, chief information officer and, most recently, vice president of operations at Central Washington University. Bohman joined the UW in April as vice president for information technology and chief information officer (CIO) as well as serving as UW Finance Transformation’s (UWFT) newest sponsor. His mission is to position technology in support of teaching, learning and research across the UW’s three campuses, and serve as a leader to develop diverse, impactful teams with a commitment to inclusive and accessible technology services.

If you heard that Andreas Bohman immigrated from Sweden, you might assume that living in the Pacific Northwest is a no-brainer. We have our coffee culture and Sweden has their “fika” culture (a coffee and sweet treat with friends). We have abundant natural attractions and the outdoors is an important part of Swedish lifestyle. True crime stories are prevalent here and Sweden is home to famous crime fiction, often referred to as “Nordic Noir.” 

What you may not know is that Andreas has a long history and relationship with the United States — from coast-to-coast and even Alaska. He first arrived here as a teen — his inquisitive spirit ignited by the excitement of his sister who’d returned from being a foreign exchange student in the U.S. Once she said, “You gotta go,” Andreas was all in. He spent his senior year of high school in a Chicago suburb as an exchange student, where he heard his host father’s daring tales of serving as a Green Beret during the Vietnam era. It appealed to Andreas’ exploratory nature and ignited another pivotal spark. 

“I always had it in the back of my mind that it would be quite the experience to serve in the United States military and back then it was really about adventure and doing something different than my Swedish peers…just kind of getting out and seeing the world.”

Through conversations with his host family, he discovered he could join the U.S. military and gain citizenship. With some trepidation, he voiced this desire to his father. That brief, 10-minute conversation sealed his decision and led to one of the most memorable moments in his life. 

His father shared that as a teen during World War II, he saw the U.S. defend Europe and beat back the Nazi regime while Sweden remained neutral; he felt the world-at-large owed the U.S. quite a lot. “My dad said, ‘You know, going and serving in the United States military, it’s a small repayment of that debt,’ and I could really sink my teeth into that.” Andreas added, “I actually built my military career on that 10-minute conversation. Just honoring that sacrifice was really important to me.” 

And, yet, he wishes we didn’t have a need for militaries and weapons, “I try to distill it down to serving, and I think selfless service — in any shape or form — is commendable, so that’s how I view my role.” 

Andreas saw active duty for six years, followed by service in the Washington National Guard. At this point, Andreas says, “I don’t believe my military service defines me as a person, but I appreciate the invaluable lessons from that career.”

Along those lines, Andreas shares his philosophy, “I believe in authentic leadership, and I choose a particular leadership style depending on the environment. In the military, for example — especially in special operations — there’s a certain style of leadership you have to portray. It’s more authoritative. Whereas in higher education, which leans to the democratic side, leadership is more of a consultative approach due to the culture. But, if you consider these two different styles, you’re still applying your core leadership competencies, regardless of the environment and style.”

After serving in military active-duty status, Andreas returned to college, earning a master’s degree in information assurance from Norwich University in Vermont, followed by an executive MBA from Washington State University. He worked in the private sector in Alaska and on the East Coast, before eventually accepting an opportunity to lead operations at Central Washington University (CWU) in Ellensburg. 

Here are additional reflections from Andreas on his leadership essentials. 

Active listening. Just as service remains a core belief of how Andreas leads and lives, he adds active listening to the top of his leadership toolkit. As a mentor in Kittitas County’s Youth Services program, he recently experienced a powerful moment with a 10-year-old mentee, who faced strong discrimination. Andreas listened to the youngster talk through his feelings, witnessed how he processed them and was inspired by the eventual outcome: compassion for his tormentors. “It was powerful to see,” said Andreas, “that one so young can have such grace and empathy.“ He adds, “I wasn’t always a good listener,“ said Andreas. “I’ve learned to be more of an active listener and firmly believe this is absolutely critical to being a leader.”

Collaboration and community. “I often tell my staff that relationships are the sinews that hold an organization together,” Andreas says. “I firmly believe that. I’m really focusing my attention on the internal team building among UW’s many IT organizations.” He’s doing that both internally and outside of IT and finds folks here at the UW very open, cementing his belief that people seek and want relationships and meaning. He adds, “The main focus coming into higher education from the private sector is not shareholder wealth, but student success, enlightened minds and being energized around that concept and making this place we call work home. That’s exciting.” Andreas doesn’t live to work but rather works to live. “That said, I want to spend my time among people with whom I have a good relationship and can do meaningful work together. And I’m finding that here.”

Seeing opportunities within challenges. Andreas remembers what John Slattery, the vice dean for research and graduate education, said to him during his interview process about being at a great research university like the UW. “It’s a double-edged sword. We lean in. We want to do exciting things with research — part of our mission is to do these exciting things, which we should do. How do you build a sustainable and secure IT environment around that? How do we ensure there are business processes around that so we can move forward?” Andreas sees this challenge as impetus: “Supporting and realizing clear IT services around that duality and balance, to be honest with you, it’s the kind of stuff that gets me out of bed in the morning.“

As for the challenges being a UWFT sponsor brings, Andreas reflects, “I’m still listening, still processing. Trying to understand the complexity of UWFT. It’s a big, massive program, lots of moving pieces. I’ve been around long enough to know, yes, I can influence success but it’s going take everyone. This is an institutional undertaking requiring collaboration and teamwork.” While he’s looking for opportunities to help right now and up to go-live, he’s really spending most of his time thinking past go-live. What will the go-live operating and support model look like, and how will we align this and set ourselves up for success and further evolve its implementation? 

“Go-live is just the start. This is really important — and I tell my staff this — people feel overworked, there’s lots to get done. I get it. But we put in the effort now not for our benefit, but for the institution’s benefit. When we look back five to 10 years from now, we’ll see the successes. It’s so important to lift our heads up and look ahead. This is another one of those things I can really sink my teeth into...and get excited about being a part of this work.”

To learn more about Andreas, we asked questions about his life, inspiration and thoughts about change.

What is your first instinct when you see changes coming on the horizon? My first instinct is to communicate. Changes can be disruptive (in both positive and negative ways) and communicating the why around any change is very important. It’s also important to connect the change to who we are as an organization and how the change will help us long-term.

What is the biggest change you’ve ever experienced? Emigrating from Sweden to America and the birth of my children.

What one or two tips do you have for people facing challenges/change? How do you push through it? In your professional life, hold your leaders accountable to help you understand and engage with the change in a meaningful way. In your personal life, build support networks of family and friends who you can lean on when things are challenging. 

What excites you about how technology can help improve our lives (personally and professionally)? What excites me most about technology is access, innovation and problem solving. Access to learning, healthcare, and friends and family are just some examples of how technology can enrich and change lives. Innovation around future technology is exciting, ranging from self-driving cars to space exploration and artificial intelligence. I’m also optimistic about technology solving some gnarly problems around environmental sustainability, epidemiology and equal access to resources. 

What did your stint at CWU teach you about the technology needs of higher education and what learnings do you think will most apply here? Technology is about people. Technology is easy and people are hard. 

What was your reason for choosing to work at the UW? I wasn’t looking for a change, but now that I’m here, I’m glad I came. The UW is an inspiration and an example to follow for all other public schools in the state and nation. I always viewed the UW in this light and when this opportunity presented itself, I was excited to learn more.

In addition to UWFT, what are the biggest priorities you’re focusing on now for UW-IT? Teambuilding. Listening. Communicating.

What are some actions you’re currently taking to support UWFT? Listening and making myself available. I’m also thinking a lot about what comes after go-live. Go-live is not the end but the beginning. The beginning of an exciting digital transformation for our institution.

What do you most value in your friends or colleagues? In the spirit of Brene Brown, author of Dare to Lead, I will stick to two top values: authenticity and honesty. 

Do you have a most treasured possession or a cherished collection? I find myself to not be very materialistic, but I have some family mementoes that are important to me. For example, when my daughter was around six years old, she started writing small personal notes when I would go away with the military. She would hide them in a bag or in a piece of equipment for me to find later. Even though she is 18 now, she continues this practice and I have a big stack of them in a box. They are very important to me. 

What are your passions? My family and my work. In that order. 

Have you been able to incorporate any of your Swedish culture into your American everyday life (professionally or personally)? Yes. All the time. For example, I am wearing clogs today and I think the Nordic Model is not terrible. I also enjoy fermented herring. Alone. 

Who is your greatest hero/role model/inspiration? This is a tough one; there are so many. Anne Frank, Martin Luther King Jr., Greta Thunberg, Rosa Parks, Abraham Lincoln, Marcus Aurelius, and Raoul Wallenberg. Maybe Carl Sagan?

Name a talent you wish you had? I wish I could play the guitar. 

What song or lyric best captures you or your impressions about the UWFT program?Take a Chance on Me,” by ABBA. 

What is your personal motto or mission? My personal mission is to be a good husband, father and son. 

My professional mission can be summed up by Jim Collins in Good to Great

“When all these pieces come together, not only does your work move toward greatness, but so does your life. For, in the end, it is impossible to have a great life unless it is a meaningful life. And it is very difficult to have a meaningful life without meaningful work. Perhaps, then, you might gain that rare tranquility that comes from knowing that you’ve had a hand in creating something of intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution. Indeed, you might even gain that deepest of all satisfactions: knowing that your short time here on this earth has been well spent, and that it mattered.”

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