Summit Spotlight: Casey Gordon
Chief Information Officer, College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University
We are so excited that Casey is joining us at the 2021 Women of Influence Summit on Friday, September 17 to share what she’s learned through the pandemic about creating healthy boundaries. To help you get to know Casey better check out her answers to our interview questions below:
What does a typical day look like for you?
I don’t know that there’s any such thing as a typical day in my work. Our schedule in higher education ebbs and flows with the students. There will be periods of heavy reactive work, like during the Fall Semester start-up or Finals week, and then there will be periods where it is less busy, such as during Winter Break. Summertime is a rebuilding time period, where we do updates and projects to get ready for the coming year. So our work is very cyclical. Regardless of the time of year, much of my day is filled with meetings (in person or Zoom) and email.
What is your favorite part of your job?
My favorite part of my job is helping others. We have such a wonderful collaborative atmosphere at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University. It is an amazing and special place to work. I love being able to meet with people around the campuses, discuss their needs, and help them connect the dots to find ways to solve their challenges or reach their future goals.
How do you spend your free time?
Most of my free time in the summer is spent up at my parent’s resort near Alexandria. We spend our weekends there whenever we can. My children love to swim, so we head down to the lake each morning and spend most of the day swimming, Sea-Dooing, and tubing. During the winter, my time is filled with children’s activities, school activities, and traveling. We always take a few vacations to get away from the cold winter weather, so that’s an important way that our whole family relaxes and recharges. Personally, my favorite thing to do in my spare time is read, so wherever we are, at the lake or on vacation, I’ve always got a book or two or ten on my iPad that I’m in the middle of reading.
What’s on your summer reading list?
Summer is a time of relaxation for me, so my reading list consists almost entirely of light, easy beach reads. I love a good leadership or career development book, but I tend to read those in winter. The Squiggly Career: Ditch the Ladder, Embrace Opportunity and Carve Your Own Path Through the Squiggly World of Work is on my list for this fall. But in summer, I read fiction like thrillers, romance, paranormal, and YA novels. I always set a goal to read between 75 and 100 books each year, and summer is when I fit a lot of those books in. A few of the books on my summer list include The Family Upstairs, Panic, The Unhoneymooners, 1984, The Hunting Party, Loveboat Taipei, Kingdom of Ash, Final Girls, the 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Shipped, and They Wish They Were Us.
How has Next Monday been of value to you and/or your career?
I have been a member of a Next Monday Executive Peer Group (EPG) for the past several years. That experience has been invaluable because I get one-on-one professional development coaching and advice, as well as a support group to talk through issues and challenges at work. For example, I was struggling to figure out how to address a particular challenge at work, and I brought this topic to my EPG meeting. With under a half hour of discussion, I had mapped out an entire strategy for addressing the issue, and I was able to implement that strategy the very next week. I know that I’m a better leader because of the support that Next Monday provides.
What are you looking forward to at the Women of Influence Summit in September?
Seeing people in person again! It’s been a long time since I’ve been to an in-person conference, and I can’t wait to see all those smiling faces and catch up with women I haven’t seen in a long time. In addition, every Summit has taught me many things. I’ve learned about other women’s stories, their challenges, and their solutions. I always take away something of value. One year, I learned about a woman who used to refold her towels after her children folded them because they weren’t “perfect.” She spoke of how she broke that habit and learned to be less rigid about the “right” way to do things. I think of that story often when I see something that my kids do that isn’t exactly how I would do it, and it stops me from criticizing or correcting their work as I might have before. Her story helps be a better parent. Those are the types of stories I can’t wait to hear again!
What are you hoping to share with fellow attendees at the Women of Influence Summit? I will share the story of what my life has been like during the last year and a half, and how the pandemic gave me an opportunity to find a balance within my work and my life that I didn’t even know I was missing.
What’s one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m a quilter! I absolutely love quilting. I haven’t been able to do it for awhile since my kids take up a great deal of my time, but I hope to get back into it again soon. I love picking out colors and patterns, and watching the quilt take shape. I even designed my own quilt patterns and sold those as a business for awhile before I had kids.
What is your favorite family tradition?
One of my favorite traditions is to travel with my family. Not just my kids, but my parents, sisters, nieces, and nephew. We take a family vacation together at least once every year, and try to include as much of our extended family as are able to come with us. In 2022, we are going on a two-week cruise all the way through the Panama Canal, starting in Florida and ending in California. It’s one of my bucket list items, and I’m so excited to be able to give my children these experience to see places in the world that they’ve never seen before. I hope that they enjoy traveling so much that they spend their lives seeing everything the world has to offer. I love travel so much that I actually own and operate a travel agency as a side business, and I’m trained to sell Disney vacations as well as cruises like Norwegian, Carnival, Virgin, etc.
If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
I would love to learn to fly! My dad has his pilot’s license, and he owned powered parachutes for years. I always loved going for rides with him, and I even took a lesson when I was younger. But it takes some time and money, so I’ve never made it a priority to delve any deeper. Perhaps that is something for me to take on after my kids grow older and I have more time on my hands.
What would you do (for a career) if you weren’t doing this?
The career quiz I took in high school advised me to be a librarian, so that would be a pretty darn good fit since I love to read so much. It was no surprise because teachers used to have to tell me to put my books away during class because I was reading too much! However, if I could do anything without having to necessarily make a living at it, I would be a fiction writer. I have always had stories buzzing around in my head, and I actually majored in English in college. Writing is a hard field to go into because the competition is tough and the pay isn’t the best, so it just wasn’t practical for a career path for me. I still write a little bit in my spare time, and I’m about a third of the way done writing a novel right now. Maybe one day I will finish it!
Where is the best place you’ve traveled to and why?
I have to answer this question in two parts because there’s just too many places to choose. My favorite place to vacation is Disney World. I grew up going there with my family every few years, and now that I have kids of my own, we travel there 1-2 times per year. The minute I step onto Disney property, I’m transported back to my childhood. It really is the happiest place on earth. From the food to the rides to the sunshine, you can’t help but find the joy in everything when you are there. It’s simply magical. So that is my favorite place to vacation. However, one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken was when I went to London alone in my early 20s, just after I’d graduated college. I’d been to London several times before, and I had always loved the city. The museums and plays were some of my favorite things to do each day. But I’d always gone with a group before, with a set itinerary and limited time to myself. This time, I went alone, and it was heavenly doing exactly what I wanted to do each day. I would grab bread and cheese and eat at the park, or I would head over to a last minute matinee of a play I wanted to see. At first, I felt strange going to restaurants alone, but then I really started to enjoy the freedom of traveling alone. I think traveling alone is a one-of-a-kind experience.