Heather Asplund, User Support Specialist, Department of Pediatrics

Headshot of woman with brown hair with bangs and glassesWhat is your current position?
I’m a user support specialist for the Department of Pediatrics’ IT help desk. My main goal is to make doctors’ and admins’ jobs easier! Peds has 4 user support specialists, but we’ve been growing the past year, and each of us has a specialty, too.

Rather than doing backend work with IT like security, I love all the interactions that being a user support specialist grants me. Since the pandemic, we’ve crash-coursed remote learning and being aware of new elements like home desk setups!

What does a typical day look like for you?
For the morning shift, I’m up at 7, usually woken up by a phone call. Then, I’m checking what’s happened since I last went offline and make sure someone has contacted them. Throughout the day, I’ll take phone calls and walk-ins, with sometime in the afternoons dedicated to various projects. Right now, that means updating 200 printers. In my experience, the more you schedule in advance, the more it changes and things come up, so I’m always changing priorities based on need.

When did you start working in SMPH?
I started my career at UW 15 years ago in the Waisman Center, where I worked for 8 years before coming here. At Waisman, I actually had a lot of interactions with the peds department since there were lots of child-based projects. It was a hard position to leave, but here I feel fulfilled as well, helping doctors help children.

What is your workplace superpower?
The ability to adapt! Between home setups, I’m learning different tools that help make remote learning easier. I can’t be afraid to learn new stuff; my downtime is even spent learning new features.

Photo of two boys in t-shirts.
A photo Heather Asplund keeps on her desk of her children.

What is something personal you keep on your desk?
I have pictures of my kids: 2 boys, 19 and 12, with the oldest moved out. It’s crazy to think of myself when I was 12 and how computer literate I was compared to how they are at that age!

Where are you from originally?
I’m a lifetime Wisconsinite; I live in Edgerton, and went to UW Stevens Point. How could you not love Wisconsin?! I love Wisconsin! The change of seasons, the Midwest personality, it’s all in Wisconsin.

What is your favorite place to spend time in Madison? In the world?
I’m a foodie person with a culinary degree, so anywhere in the food scene! I love going to farmer’s markets, and new restaurants; Muramoto at Hilldale and the Old Fashioned are a couple of favorites. I go to Taste of Madison every year, my kids have gone since they were babies. In the world, that’d be on my dad’s 100-acre sheep farm that is now lived on by my brother. There, we’ve also got grapevines for wine and jam and have had family pig roasts since we were little.

What are you reading right now?
I’ve always been a Stephen King fan and read “It” in 5th grade. I just restarted the Stephen King catalog during COVID.

Share one fact about yourself that you co-workers might not be aware of.
When I retire, I have plans to host a food truck. I’d pick it up and go travel the country, with farm-to-table dishes depending on the season.

Optional: Ask yourself one more question, and answer it.
Being a female in the IT business has been a taboo and a challenge…I have a perfect mix of [communication and people skills], which is why I’ve done so well in the field, making technical terms/lingo easy to understand without making [clients] feel stupid.