September 22, 2023

Edward Gray: Help Is on the Way

When he came to UMW’s Help Desk in 2000 – two days before Freshman Move-In – Systems Integration and Support Specialist Edward Gray brought a triple-major college degree and a slew of certifications.

Since then, he’s earned a master’s degree in management information systems, joined the University’s Staff Advisory Council and inaugural Leadership UMW cohort, and spent time in Web Development and Enterprise Application Services.

Gray returned to the Help Desk in 2011, fielding phone calls from busy UMW employees who are wrestling with Macs and PCs, desktops and laptops, servers, connections and networks.

Q: What pulled you into this type of work?
A: I got my first computer for Christmas 1985. I was instantly hooked, wanting to figure out how things worked – both software and hardware.

Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: I walk in the door and the questions start. There are flurries and lulls. On quiet days, we enter less than 100 tickets. On our busiest day, the first day of fall 2015 classes, we entered 275.

Q: What do you like most about your job?
A: Meeting so many people from all walks of life and helping them on their journey to success.

Q: Everyone thinks their problems is the most important. How do you handle that?
A: While I’m on the phone with a customer, I do what I can to best help. We do prioritize instruction, as our purpose is to educate. Most customers appreciate that we try to resolve issues as quickly as possible. Most understand that some issues cannot be solved over the phone or that we have to send a piece of equipment to the vendor for warranty repairs. We try to provide viable alternatives while working to resolve issues.

Q: What’s the funniest Help Desk question you’ve ever been asked?
A: Early in my tenure here, someone called the Help Desk main number on Labor Day and asked for me by name. They wanted to know if the University was having classes that day.

Q: What advice would you give UMW employees to keep their computers safe?
A: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. That’s why we’re here. We can help you research a question or problem and offer possible solutions.

Q: Are you tired of computers by the time you get home?
A: Some days I don’t turn on my [home] computer at all. Other days, I can play games or research a topic for hours.

Q: Are you a Mac guy or a PC guy?
A: I get this question often and joke that I hate them both. They both have their strengths and weaknesses. I will figure out how to work with whatever I’m given.

Q: Any mantras you live by?
A: “To educate, empower and positively impact the lives of others” is my personal mission statement. Also, be yourself and always strive to improve.