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13 Questions With: Melanie Sucha

March 3, 2013

Team Leader, IM Policies & Standards, Suncor Energy

Melanie Sucha

A hero who has inspired you in your career?

A lot of people inspire me at different times! My very good friend Peter (who is a software programmer) always worked so hard in high school and university, I was inspired to go on to my MLIS partly by him, by having seen his work and knowing he’d go far on his own path. That encouraged me to do the same. The people who inspire me the most seem to be people who are passionate about what they do. I like to surround myself with that positivity when I can.

The first job you ever held and at what age?

Library Page, William Aberhart High School, Calgary AB, age 16. I loved this job – it was one of the best parts high school! Back in those days (late 90s) this was actually a paid job. I think students only get high school credit for it now. Minimum wage; I think it was $4.25 at the time. The school librarian and library technician were amazing women and a credit to the profession, as they were so enthusiastic to coach and mentor the students.

Your first position in the library and/or information services field?

See above!

Coolest thing in your cubicle or office?

A rose made out of Lego. It was a mother’s day gift from my husband and my son.

What is your guilty pleasure?

Cheese, especially the moldy kinds, since I am actually mildly allergic to them.

Career advice – what’s your top tip?

For librarians and information professionals: you are one of the most “professionally generous” professions. Never be afraid to ask for help or advice from your peers: most of them are truly helpful people who want to share the best of what they have. Then be mindful to give back!

What useless skill(s) do you possess?

I can practically recite from the cinematic masterpiece “Ghostbusters” because I’ve watched it hundreds of times. It was the first film my parents rented in the 80s when they got their first VCR, and is probably a formative influence on my career path. I would be really mad if a ghost blew the card catalogue cards all over the floor on my shift.

Proudest moment in your professional life?

As an Information Management consultant in 2008 I was contracted to a consultation with The Shingwauk Project, which is onsite at the former Shingwauk and Wawanosh Residential Schools (now Algoma University) and is partnered with the National Residential School Survivors Society to collect and make accessible information and artifacts pertaining to Residential Schools. I visited the Shingwauk Residential Schools Centre and spent my time working directly with their staff. This experience opened my eyes not only to the lasting impacts of Canada’s Residential School legacy, but to the critical importance of archival centres in directly supporting Residential School Survivors, and in maintaining the historic record for the reconciliation work underway and for generations to come. There is much work to be done in Canada with respect to building a national understanding of what happened at Residential Schools, its impacts on Aboriginal people and on Canada as a whole. I had the privilege be given a guided view into these issues through my professional work and it was an experience that I will always value on a personal level.

If you had 24 hours all to yourself, how would you best like to spend it?

I would probably watch a movie (Ghostnusters maybe), go for a run (my 24 hours has to be on a nice day!), have a bath, read books for hours. Get a neopolitan-style pizza from the place up my street – and some gelato. Try not to break out in a cheese-related rash.

If you didn’t work in the information industry, what would you be doing?

The information industry is so broad, I don’t see leaving it. There’s always new directions to explore (for example, I’ve recently gone into a data governance role). When I was younger I thought about policing, but I think being a librarian has allowed me to become so eccentric, I couldn’t carry off a law enforcement role. Maybe law itself though.

Finish this sentence: “In high school, I would have been voted the person most likely to … “

I came across a yearbook, where a friend had written that I was one of the nicest people he knew, and was so nice that I was probably hiding evil, diabolical intentions to take over the world. I wouldn’t take it that far, but I think I do pursue goals more aggressively than my exterior demeanor might suggest. Given that this same friend ended up marrying me ten years later, maybe it says something more about him!

How do you stay current in your field?

I do the “standard” things: reading newsletters and publications from professional associations (CLA, AIIM, ARMA are the three I follow most closely), attending seminars and conferences (as I can; I wish I had unlimited time – and air travel!), participating in professional associations locally.

I work for an energy company that brings in a number of information management consultants, so I have the chance to talk with peers regularly and ask about trends they see in the field. The past couple years I have taught the Information Management course at Western University (via online distance ed) and this has been great in getting me to look at my own knowledge in fresh ways and supplement it.

What would you like your headstone to read?

Enough metadata about me that if someone wants to know more, they can retrieve my records from some archival source!

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