“Being in the information age, the records field is genuinely exciting right now. There are really no limits to what your career path can be. I’ll never run out of things to do, to investigate or implement.”
MARA Program 2011 Graduate
While Robert McLauchlin’s MLIS was integral to getting him through doors in his preferred professional field, his hyper-specialized MARA degree from the School of Information, which focused so minutely on his exact area of professional interest, proved especially invaluable for him. After receiving his MLIS from the University of Alberta, McLauchlin worked with managing records for over a decade in Alberta’s oil and gas industry. “I had a vested interest in the records management area and long-term preservation,” McLauchlin says, “so when I heard about [San José State University’s] MARA program, I thought it would be a good credential to complement my MLIS, because it was dealing in my field specifically.”
In the iSchool’s MARA degree program, McLauchlin further honed his ability and skill in not only managing records, but also in developing information/record management systems like the one he has utilized at his job at Burnet, Duckworth, & Palmer (BD&P), a sizable law firm in Calgary, since 2012. “After finishing my MLIS,” McLauchlin recalls, “I was always looking for opportunities to work on or create a record management program as opposed to just running one.” When he began his career in the oil and gas industry, their systems were already in place, meaning he had to work from that platform. After obtaining his MARA in 2011, however, he could achieve his long-term goal by developing and maintaining a records management system at BD&P. Says McLauchlin, “I could put all the theories I had learned over the years into action.”
In keeping with his career’s momentum and trajectory, McLauchlin recently added another credential to supplement his degrees: Information Governance Professional (IGP) certification from the Association of Record Managers and Administrators (ARMA). For McLauchlin, IGP certification was a way for him to back up and really solidify his experience in his field. “Because I had all this knowledge,” McLauchlin says, “I wanted to get the certification to [emphasize] that I had all this knowledge and experience, rather than just have [my experience] listed on my resume.”
Getting certified as an IGP figured in nicely with McLauchlin’s work. “Much of my role here [at BD&P] is putting out information management strategies and information governance,” McLauchlin says. The IGP Certification Program, which provides a qualified records professional with an information governance credential and the ethical and professional framework to deliver organizational value while reducing risk, seemed like a natural career move to further enhance his MARA degree.
In many ways, becoming an IGP was like getting another degree for McLauchlin while adding another credential to support his experience. The whole process from applying to reading and completing the thorough IGP exam over a one year period were made easier by McLauchlin’s time at SJSU’s School of Information working closely with Dr. Pat Franks and Lori Linberg in courses like Electronic Recordkeeping that pushed him to hone his craft.
For current students and recent alumni seeking to enter the field of record management, McLauchlin has a few words of advice. “The records management field is such a dynamic place to be. It’s no longer about the paper and no longer about just the electronic side. It’s all about the information.” He goes on, “So being in the information age, the records field is genuinely exciting right now. There are really no limits to what your career path can be. I’ll never run out of things to do, to investigate or implement.” McLauchlin foresees growth in his field for years to come. Companies will need record keepers, whose responsibilities are varied and expanding.
As for the future, McLauchlin’s looks much like his recent past. For one, he’ll be staying at BD&P. “I’m happy where I am,” he says. “The legal industry is a pretty dynamic industry when it comes to information and knowledge management, which are huge parts of the coming future.” Today, he’s working with the law library, IT professionals and other departments to build the law firm’s information and knowledge infrastructure that will help shape the company. These responsibilities and collaboratives inherent in the job keep McLauchlin engaged and excited about his work.