Profiles in Strengths: Janet Ortega, MBA
Janet Ortega, MBA, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness
Q: Your area is so diverse in terms of the folks you lead and what everyone handles – in what ways do Strengths, either your own or your familiarity with others’, help you build community and common purpose?
Our purpose is to always focus on the strategic initiatives. The strengths are what give us the drive and the same vocabulary, so we can identify the best people for the job and help us move forward. As a division, we are improving our understanding and use of strengths. You can really tell a difference in the divisions that have taken that on. They are unified in their purpose. The most interesting thing is people’s reactions to one another: I hear them more often than ever before saying “Oh, that’s just my Deliberative” or “That’s my Strategic working on you.” It makes us much more effective in what we’re trying to get done.
Q: How, or which, Strengths come into play when you have to do the hard work of prioritization – funds, or projects, and so on?
Analytical is always in play because I have to understand every element of every matter that I have to make a decision on – how it will impact everything, every division, every department, the entire college. Restorative is really the one that drives everything because it’s what helps me solve the problem. Responsibility means I’m going to get it done, get it resolved, pull the right people together to solve it. Achiever keeps me shooting for the stars: do everything and dream big. I’m fascinated with Learner, because you never stop learning. For me, learning means becoming comprehensive – understand every aspect of the institution and know how it works. I’ve done Student Affairs and Administrative Services. My mentor told me I have to know every area, and he pointed out that I didn’t know Instruction, so that’s when I started working as an adjunct. My Learner is what drove me to follow that advice and try to learn every area of the college. I learn from others. When I need to figure something out, I find the person who knows, so that next time I know exactly what to do.
Q: Here at South, we’ve been introduced to Strengths within a professional paradigm, obviously, but on a personal note, which of your Strengths go home with you at the end of the week?
All of them – I made my whole family do Strengths. I was really fascinated by Shari’s ability to look at her own family, and that made me wonder about my kids and my husband. It was really fascinating because my daughter and my son have a lot of my same Strengths, and I was surprised by that. My two boys are very similar and they both have competition, so that’s that sibling rivalry. My husband’s Strengths were very different than the rest of ours. He has Developer, Empathy, and Harmony. Knowing that has helped me understand our whole family dynamic.
Q: You have a lot of goals for your area and for the college – which Strengths will you rely on most as you tackle your next big projects?
The two biggest things I’m focusing on are financial stability and facility improvements. Those have been the most monumental, so I will be using all of my Strengths in those areas. How can I solve the issue? How can I reach my key results? Restorative will help me make sure we get there in good shape. Analytical will help me figure out the methodology. The hardest part will be financial stability – right sizing the college and getting the resources where they need to be. We need to be able to trust each other. There is a balance to strike with that; if resources have to shift to another area, we need to be able to trust that one day, when your area is a priority again, those resources will be available to come back to you. I’ll be relying on everyone else’s Strengths to help us get through this.
Q: Any final thoughts about Strengths?
I think it just gives us a really strong, fun tool to help us become more efficient and effective. I only see benefits from it, so I’m really excited to see it engrained with students. It’s so rewarding when you see they understand themselves better. They really get it.