#Spotlight Series: Vida Barone and ARMA Live! Conference


Published: April 12, 2019 by Katie Kuryla

Are you interested in attending an ARMA conference? MARA student Vida Barone had the opportunity to attend and she is sharing her experience with us. 

As a professional city clerk, records management is a significant element of my day-to-day responsibilities. I have to admit, there has always been a bit of trepidation when it comes down to decision-making on information and records at the local level. Without proper context and training, and in light of the lack of resources in which local government often operates, having the “final say” in what goes, what stays, what’s important, and how it is managed, controlled, and utilized, is a somewhat scary proposition. It would have made more sense to really have “hand’s on” training prior to actually being responsible for such an important function!

Without a doubt, even though I am a mid-career professional, the decision to “face the fear” by embracing records and information management as a professional and academic discipline by enrolling in the San Jose State University MARA program has been one the best decisions of my career. The program is geared toward the application of information management principles, as well as the development of leadership skills as a professional. Now, I have more confidence in information as a true management asset, in the sound development of programs, processes, and procedures, and am more adept at articulating how information management is directly aligned with the achievement of any organization’s strategic goals and objectives.

One of the most powerful, and early, experiences I have had in the program was the opportunity to attend the 2018 ARMA Live! Conference in Anaheim, California and meet up with Dr. Pat Franks, MARA faculty, staff, students, and School of Information alumni in person. It is one thing to develop skills and understand the professional through the academic course work. It is another thing altogether to sit in the same room and have a Q & A with Dr. Bill Saffady, Sonia Empel, and Dr. Susan Cisco and other leaders in the profession of whose academic articles we learn from in class.

And not to be short-changed was the presence of our own Dr. Pat Franks. I was honored to be asked to assist with her presentation on Blockchain. There were at least 20 different industries represented in the audience, including nuclear, energy, military, legal, government, all of whom listened and inquired with rapt attention at the cutting-edge knowledge of our own MARA program director. Several of the other presentations I attended referenced Dr. Franks’ book, “Records and Information Management,” as a foundation of knowledge in the field. It solidified that we are learning from the “best of the best” in the industry, they are on top of all emerging technologies and trends, and truly magnifies the outstanding value the SJSU MARA program offers to us.

If you have not had an opportunity to attend an ARMA conference, I strongly suggest you do so, particularly if you are just starting out in the program or career. The workshops, presentations, pre-conference classes, and exhibitors are outstanding. I signed up for a “record retention schedule” development pre-conference course taught by Dr. Sonia Empel and gained a certificate. Another great pre-conference workshop was “Gamifying of Information.” We were given instruction on how to turn trainings into games, and were even provided “Google cardboard” virtual viewers to gain exposure to the innovative ways to get your people involved with records management. Everyone and everything we are learning in our course work is there. It’s a hands on experience with the vendors and professionals and they do a great job of making everyone feel welcome and engaged.

The MARA program is also strongly represented and there are many opportunities to meet up with faculty, staff, students, and alumni for various get-togethers, workshops, presentations, and in the exhibit hall. I met new colleagues, networked with alumni who gave me great tips on navigating through the MARA program, and most importantly, I really felt part of the MARA and School of Information family. Hopefully, I will see you at ARMA 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee in October!


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