Roger Lopez: Information Technology Support Specialist, Division of Finance

11/4/2015 7:22:03 PM

The qualities Roger Lopez developed in the military still serve him well at the University. As a Marine, he did his part for national security. Today, he applies his talents to information security in the Division of Finance at Penn.

When you see Information Technology Support Specialist Roger Lopez in his business casual clothes, you might not guess that he’s a veteran unless you happen to notice a few of the photos at his desk.

Roger Lopez

In one picture, he’s in uniform, standing in front of a huge helicopter. “When I was in the Marine Corps, I was an aircraft mechanic,” says Roger. As a Marine, he did his part for national security. Today, he applies his talents to information security in the Division of Finance at Penn.

In 1999, as Roger transitioned from the military to the nonprofit world, his background was seen as an asset. Employers recognized his proven ability to “hit the ground running” in difficult conditions. Those qualities still serve him well at the University.

Veterans are known for their discipline and respect for protocol, but Roger also points out a virtue that some might overlook—adaptability. “In the military, you have to learn to adapt to any situation,” says Roger, who served overseas with a variety of people, sometimes in close quarters. He lists adaptability as one of the most valuable traits he developed in the Marine Corps.

Adaptability has often come into play during his 11 years at Penn. When Roger started working at Penn’s Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics (CCEB), Palm Pilots were still in use. Since that time, the number of mobile devices, users, and security issues has exploded. Roger also moved on, transferring from CCEB to Finance’s Information Technology and Support (ITS) group. ITS stays ahead of the hackers thanks to their flexibility and the frequent professional development opportunities provided by their leadership. “Our department is very good about training,” says Roger. He’s also impressed with their innovative approach. As a former Marine mechanic, he understands the importance of protocol and documentation, but he also knows when it’s time for creative problem solving. That’s respected in his department, and it makes for a better working atmosphere.

“I know a lot of people want to come work for Penn….One thing that is attractive about Penn is the people, the people and the diversity.” What’s his advice to any newcomer? “I’d say loosen the tie a bit.” ITS isn’t bound by formality. The most important thing is getting the job done correctly within the parameters of security. To that end, his group is willing to collaborate and share ideas. “We are all very approachable people. We have a good, tight-knit relationship.” Roger credits his supervisor for offering flexible scheduling so he can better manage his life outside work. And from time to time, his supervisor lets him know that he’s grateful for his service to his country.

Roger appreciates when his coworkers acknowledge his military service on Veterans Day, but most of the time, it’s not a focus for his team. Instead, he and his ITS colleagues concentrate on supporting education and research while facing the ever-changing threats to information security.

“We’re here to help one another. That’s what this place is all about.”

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