Kevin Vadnais (BSc '00), manager of the Information Management and Security Office
Where are you from?
I’m from Cardston so I’m a local boy. I have been a giant computer nerd ever since I was a little kid. My poor father had to deal with me crashing his computer all the time because I was doing terrible things on it. He was so patient. I have to give him so much credit because computers were not cheap back in the ‘80s. My parents really let me develop my interest in computers. When I graduated from high school I was going to go into medicine. I double majored in pre-med and computer science at the University of Alberta. My wife was bold enough to tell me I should be spending my time in computers because that was where my skill set was. I pass out very easily so I would have made a terrible doctor. I finished my last two years at the U of L and graduated in 2000 with a computer science degree. Then I got a job with Hewlett Packard in California. It was a dream job; I was pretty lucky. I got to do research and development on brand new stuff. I worked with HP for eight years. Then my father had a stroke in 2008 so I quit my job at HP and came back to try to help him out.
How long have you been at the U of L and what do you do here?
I had the opportunity to join the IT team here in 2009. I spent nine months in a programmer position and from there I came into the security offices as an analyst. I’ve been doing security since 2010. It’s a great job; nothing’s ever the same. There are always new things, whether it’s Russia or China, students or faculty members. I manage three business groups within IT Services — the Information Security Office, Records Management and Business Intelligence. Those three groups work together to develop an information management strategy for the institution. That includes everything from when you create a document to when you delete a document and everything in between about controlling access to reporting on the data that’s contained in it. All of this is under the giant information management umbrella. The University was quite progressive in setting up a structure like that. We’re actually seeing other institutions move in the same direction. Most of our focus is on information security. We try to be proactive in removing threats when they’re detected. We promote information security awareness through training programs and various engagement activities with business units across campus.
My tips for the University community during cybersecurity awareness month are to stay safe and do your training. If you have questions, ask. My office is open to anybody. Everybody can fall victim to a scam, including myself. If we make a mistake, we can always recover. If mistakes are made, let us know as soon as possible so we can fix it. It becomes a bigger problem the longer we wait or try to hide it. I promise I don’t judge.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I get to talk with everybody at the University. I’m not restricted to a particular area of functionality. I truly get to see the entire institution and it’s great to talk to students, faculty and staff. It’s awesome. I really like having the whole breadth of exposure.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know I play the piano. When I was very young, I took lessons. I wasn’t very good at athletics so I ended up playing piano all through school and high school. In my last couple of years in high school, I came here to the University for some private lessons with some of the music professors here. I was classically trained and I was much better 10 years ago than I am now, but practice would knock that rust off if I wanted to. I really like playing piano.