The Ufirst Project

Meet Mark Dunn, Director of Talent Management

Mark Dunn

Learn more about Mark Dunn, Director of Talent Management.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I'm most excited to serve the team of approximately 37 talent management professionals, each focused on supporting the faculty, staff, and team members of this great university. We are excited to bring our brand of services to the organization this year, while actively partnering with the University to create new services in the future.

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: Spending time with my dynamic wife, Uconda, and my two sons (oldest is 7 years, youngest is 9 months).

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Watching individuals who I have worked with and supported go on to live their life's purpose and passion. Any time I experience this, I am thankful and reflect on the blessings of my life.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: I have many, but right now it would be "God is Good" by Chester D.T. Baldwin.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I am an open book and strive to be authentic in my interactions. I don't believe there are many surprises in me at the moment (this, in itself, may surprise some people).

Another Satisfied Customer

Barbara Strain

UVA HR is committed to finding solutions to HR-related challenges for our colleagues across Grounds. Recently, UVA HR partnered with leaders from UVA Health System to source, vet, schedule interviews, and process over 20 new hires. The effort did not go unnoticed. 

Barbara Strain, Director of Value Management for UVA Health System, in a recent thank-you note to Steven Snyder, Director of Talent Recruitment, wrote: 

“I wanted to personally thank you and your team for understanding the business need of the support departments and in developing hiring plans that worked for them. I agree the department leaders have also stepped up to rearrange work schedules to meet the cadence of the interviews. They recognize the effort that HR has put forth and the opportunity before them to make a difference.

Barbara Strain quote

“The addition of the mid-cycle orientation session was an extraordinary gesture and is much appreciated. 

“Please pass on my gratitude to the team for partnering with us and for their continued assistance in keeping the pipeline going.”

Meet Terri Stevens, Director of Compensation

Terri Stevens

Learn more about Terri Stevens, Director of Compensation.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  One of the things I’m most excited about working on in my position is a new strategic approach to compensation for faculty, staff, and team members. I feel honored to be part of such a great compensation team. Together, we will execute pay philosophy, support competitive compensation and maintain compliance with laws and regulations, while ensuring consistent philosophy and governance across the organization. I am excited about the new UVA HR and the important role compensation has to our success.

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

Terri Stevens and Sky

A: When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my two dogs, Reese and Sky. Reese is an 11-year-old Saint Bernard/springer mix and Sky is an 18-month-old Saint Bernard who currently weighs about 150 pounds. Accepting my position with UVA allowed me to move back home, closer to my children and family. I’m enjoying being able to spend time with them as well.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: One of my proudest achievements was winning the Gary Willis Leadership Award through the American Society for Healthcare Human Resources Administration (ASHHRA). I was nominated for this national award for the work I did at my prior employer, implementing a new salary range structure. The project involved moving from thousands of pay ranges to a single set of structured salary ranges 2.5 percentage points apart, each with a 60-percent spread. The implementation process directly affected 13,000 employees and about 1,500 jobs. The new structure helped to create a level of transparency that allowed employees to better understand pay. I was one of two individuals recognized in 2012 for this national award.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: Great question. I actually think I have more than one: Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure,” Des’ree’s “You Gotta Be,” and Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life.” Music is such an important aspect of our lives. It can create certain emotions, lowers stress, elevates mood, and allows us to explore our creativity. As you can see, I like many different genres of music.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: Several years ago, I submitted an application to be on “The Amazing Race.” My son, Chad, would have been my partner, had my application been selected. He wasn’t too thrilled, but said that we would definitely make people watching the show laugh.

Behind the Scenes in Payroll: Testing 1, 2, 3

Payroll testing image

Payroll team members deep in the testing process.

Payroll staff, technical trainers, and subject matter experts were busy testing Workday in June to make sure both the team and the system are ready to pay everyone at UVA correctly and on time when the system goes live in January.

The team of 15 Payroll staff performed "cross-sequential" testing and training, which means they focused on a diverse cross-section of workers and their payroll results over the course of a year. With this type of testing, the team was able to confirm the various types of earnings, deductions, and taxes as they calculated and accrued toward limits in an environment that mimicked the natural payroll cycles, spanning 26 bi-weekly and 12 monthly pay periods. They worked with a test population that represented the Academic Division, Medical Center, and University Physicians Group.

Paul Grisdale

Paul Grisdale
Director of Payroll Services

Paul Grisdale, Director of Payroll Services, says the intense testing caught key system changes that otherwise would not have been captured prior to go-live and provided interactive, hands-on training, maximizing operational readiness. 

"We've developed payroll processing checklists and control sheets across all three entities," he noted. 

Although the three-week testing period was long and sometimes arduous, it aided the team's comfort in navigating the system and boosted their knowledge of Workday, says Grisdale. It helped that the trainers and subject matter experts collaborated to make fun activities like Workday scavenger hunts, Workday Payroll Relays, and "Who Wants to Be a Payroll Partner?" (based on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?").

LeTrecia Mathis, a member of the UVA Finance Payroll Services team, said “I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to interact more and get to know my new co-workers. I enjoyed the ‘fun’ put into learning!” 

We appreciate this newly-formed team's concerted efforts to make sure everyone gets paid correctly when Workday goes live. If you see a Payroll team member around, give them a high five, because they're working hard for all of us!

Securing Your Information With DUO

Locked personal data graphic

In additional to Workday’s comprehensive security program, the University is dedicated to protecting your information with DUO. You use DUO to verify your identity when logging in to Workday. You can use the DUO app on your mobile device, or DUO can call your mobile or desk phone for confirmation. Either way, using DUO, you’re in quickly, easily, and safely.

For additional information regarding UVA’s two-step authentication process, click here.

You Asked, We Answered – Your Questions from Preview and Feedback Sessions


Our Preview and Feedback sessions provided not only a look at the future of UVA HR, but also provided a forum for end users and stakeholders to ask essential questions. How will existing processes be changing? How will basics like time off and recruiting work after Workday go-live? 

We’ve reviewed all of your submitted questions – there were literally hundreds – and consulted with experts across Grounds to get you the answers you need. Check out the top-five questions below, then browse the updated FAQ list here.

Your Top-five Most Frequently Asked Questions:

1Q: Can the Workday inbox interface with my UVA email inbox so I don’t need to look in both places for HR-related messages?

A: Yes. If your settings in Workday are set to enable this feature, you will receive emails in your UVA email inbox notifying you that you have action items waiting for you in your Workday inbox.

2Q: How long will Workday maintain information?

A: Indefinitely, for data entered directly into Workday after go-live. There is a limit on how much historical data can be migrated into Workday – and that varies, based on the topic, as well as compliance requirements.

3Q: Can I see how Workday works?

A: Yes. Visit the Ufirst website by clicking here. You can watch videos to see the technology and how it works. Additional learning aids and training will be available soon to assure that everyone is comfortable using Workday in time for go-live.

4Q: How will I interact with HR in the future?

A: The new model delivers expertise and agility through the Centers of Expertise. You will have HR support from the Solution Center, HR Business Partners, Employee Relations, Recruiting, and the Talent Management team.

5Q: What does the Workday launch support model consist of?

A: The Workday support model at go-live is robust, including open labs, the HR Solution Center, HR Business Partners, Workday Partners, and escalation paths to technology resources, as needed.

We used the original list of over 300 questions from you and your colleagues to develop our updated FAQs. Explore the complete, updated FAQ list here.

Meet Fredrick Martin, Senior Director, Change Management

Fredrick Martin and a friend

Learn more about Fredrick Martin, Senior Director, Change Management.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m in the process of developing an approach for creating a “change agile” organization that can be leveraged across Grounds. This work is very important to me and positions the University to be the gold standard for transformation.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: Cooking, I love creating new dishes. So, great downtime for me is making a great meal, a great bottle of wine, and some great jazz.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Watching my two daughters grow up into young ladies that are dedicated to making this world a better place. They both are charting their own courses in life and I believe are bound for greatness. Most importantly, if I left this world today, I know they are able to take care of themselves and as a parent that’s something we all want for our children.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by John Legend.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I once tried out for a Food Network show and made the Top 50 out of 400 people auditioning for their own show.

From the Desk of Sean Jackson: Watching the ‘BLIP’ on Our Radar

Sean Jackson, Ufirst Executive Director

Sean updating the Ufirst Project kanban board

Last month, I wrote about a Lean game that I designed to teach teams how to learn from work. To win the game, team members needed to observe work with an eye toward maximizing value. This month, we will look at how we have applied this principle to our testing activities. 

Our transformation project combined three separate HR and payroll organizations and the result is an exceptionally complicated Workday configuration. This complexity informs the integration and analysis of our testing. While there is significantly more detail regarding the resulting Workday configuration, it is beyond this discussion.

Testing, with an eye on our customers’ needs

Taking the perspective of our customers, we decided to give the highest priority to our Benefits, Leave, Payroll, and Integrations areas. Defects or complications in these areas could cause the most significant harm to the largest number of people. The flow from Benefits and Leave into Payroll and out to Integrations (the HR data we share with others) formed the nexus of our strategy. To facilitate communication and avoid team confusion we took the liberty to modify the order of the flow to Benefits, Leave, Integrations, and Payroll. Thus the acronym: BLIP.

The structure needed to test the control of the flow of information across these four areas. Some might suggest that End-to-End testing would be the place to test these flows. Under normal circumstances that would be correct; however, End-to-End testing also captures system functions that could mask specificity in an abundance of detail. Resolution of this problem required us to focus solely on the BLIP flow. Therefore, we created an additional round of testing to do just that.

We created scenarios for each of our numerous employee types that ran each test employee from hire, to benefits election, through to payroll. We developed scenarios to test paid and unpaid leave for a subset of each cohort, and we evaluated the quality of the data that appeared in our integration files at the end of each scenario. The team strategy was to test areas where failure would create an unacceptable user experience. Thus, testing a mock payroll for each employee type was at the top of our list of priorities.

Instead of triggering events artificially, we advanced the payroll, period by period, over the course of the entire upcoming year, taking each test employee from their first paycheck to the last, culminating with the generation of a W-2 at the end of the year for each test employee in the cohort.

Lessons learned that set us up for success

These tests did unearth defects. We were able to correct them before commencing End-to-End testing. Our testing also confirmed the (high) level of quality that we have built into the system. Engaging the team, we earned a welcome side effect: the payroll testing scenarios helped to train the new Payroll team as they ran successful mock-payroll cycles over the course of an entire year. As we enter End-to-End testing, a deeper understanding of this critical work enhances our ability to execute successfully the remaining testing and validation tasks.

Meet Scott Seal, Senior Director, Total Rewards

Scott Seal

Learn more about Scott Seal, Senior Director, Total Rewards.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m really excited to be back in Virginia! I grew up in the Winchester, Virginia, area, so coming to Charlottesville is a little like returning home. In addition, the opportunity to be at UVA and lead the Total Rewards team during the time of HR Service Delivery transformation and the introduction of Workday is really exciting. This is a great opportunity to partner with HR and really deliver something special to our customers and, ultimately, to our community. Plus, integrating Total Rewards initiatives in areas like compensation, benefits, and wellness across UVA will be a very cool and challenging opportunity.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: There’s probably not enough space for this answer … but, I really enjoy spending time with my wife and family, golfing, yard work (yes, I actually like mowing the lawn), fly fishing, hiking, and, finally, brewery/wine tours. We live in Crozet, so having the 151 nearby is very convenient. Also, I was in Austin, Texas, for a while and fell in love with live music.

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: I’m so proud of my wife and family – they are awesome and inspire me every day. Professionally, I have been a part of two HR Service Delivery model changes, and I’m excited to be a part of UVA’s HR strategy. This won’t be easy, but will be worth it for those we serve.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: Tough question … It’s a toss-up between Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” or Fleetwood Mac’s “Don’t Stop.” Both are excellent tunes.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: To save up for college, I worked on a farm with a migrant worker crew in Ephrata, Washington. It was an extraordinary experience to be in the field every morning at 5:00 a.m. and to work with such a great group of diverse and interesting folks.

Meet Jennifer Garrett, Senior Director, Talent Recruitment

Jennifer Garrett and family

Learn more about Jennifer Garrett, Senior Director, Talent Recruitment.

Q: What are you most excited to be working on in your position?

A:  I’m thrilled to be part of such a wonderful team. I’ve lucked out, not just professionally, but personally. My teams are phenomenal people. I’m excited to be a part of the UFirst project and to bring the academic and healthcare sides of the house together.    

Q: What are you usually doing on the weekend or during time off?

A: My husband and I have two sons and a dog named Lucy. We are most often together outside somewhere. Right now, though, I’m mostly unpacking boxes. We recently relocated to Charlottesville from Atlanta after living there for 18 years, so we’re realizing just how much we’ve accumulated!

Q: What is your proudest achievement?

A: Aside from being a mother, I would say when I went back for my graduate degree. My son was three and my youngest was a newborn when I graduated.          

Q: What song would be your personal anthem/theme song?

A: “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls.

Q: What is something that would surprise us about you?

A: I love music festivals and tattoos!


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