Applied Information Management

The AIM Alumni Project: Working with Information

The AIM Program continues its series of profiles about the professional work of graduates. The goal is to explore the diversity of work of the information manager and to examine how the field is evolving.

AIM alumni who wish to submit a profile should send an e-mail to the AIM Program at, or call us at 800-824-2714, and we'll send you a suggested framework. To date, profiles have been provided by Joel Tachau ('07), Linda Ballas ('05), Peter Battan ('98), Travis Luckey ('09), Connie Atchley ('10), Michael Wright ('06), Hope Angel ('11), Brandon Gatke (’08), and Scott Fenton (’95).

Traditional IT Support and Leadership—An Interview with Brandon Gatke ('08), IT director, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare

Brandon Gatke ('08), IT director, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare.

What is your current job?

I am the IT director for Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, a nonprofit that is the largest behavioral healthcare provider in Oregon. I'm responsible for all IT strategy, compliance, and infrastructure including, but not limited to, hardware/software servers, network security, department personnel management, and day-to-day operations for the IT department. Additional duties include department budgetary planning, project management, implementation/assessment of future technology needs, and directing the Business Intelligence team for analysis and forecasting capabilities.

How do you spend your work time?

The main priority with my time is making it so my staff can do their jobs while supporting the important mission of Cascadia. A great portion of my time is spent working with the various IT teams under my supervision and partnering with internal Cascadia and external stakeholders. I also work to ensure a high level of service and keep an eye on the technical landscape and compliance issues outside of my work environment.

Do you work alone or in a small or large group?

I lead a small team of nine dedicated IT department employees consisting of IT Support and Business Intelligence teams supporting an organization of 950 employees at sixty locations. At times, I work alone; other times, I work as part of a larger company-wide group when tackling organization-affecting issues and strategic initiatives.

How does your job fit in to the larger organization dynamic? How does it make a difference?

As the senior IT leader of the company, many of the decisions and challenges I face have an impact, ranging from small to large, on the entire organization. Technology is the conduit by which Cascadiaís services are possible, either through the use of the electronic medical records (EMR) system, or a variety of back office systems.

How do you measure success in your role?

I employ a variety of tools when trying to measure success. Some of the tools I use include customer satisfaction surveys, time to close on support issues, and ROI financials, just to name a few. Low employee turnover and high morale are also powerful indicators I use to try and gauge success.

Are there more people doing this kind of work now than there were five or ten years ago?

I'd say there are fewer people doing the work I'm undertaking than five or ten years ago. With the outsourcing and commoditization of many aspects of traditional IT, I've seen IT leadership roles evolving into something different. From my own experience, the shift from purely infrastructure/support to incorporating business analytics and forecasting has helped IT find ways to complement the business process. Technology is so pervasive in the industries I've worked in (real estate, insurance, healthcare, and financial) that nonoutsourced IT has shifted to being provided on a department level (ex. accounting, marketing, HR). Several of the companies that Iíve worked for have eliminated IT leadership roles or consolidated them into new hybrid positions.

How do you stay current in the field? (Resources, organizations, journals, etc.)

I utilize social networking, trade shows, and local networking groups whenever possible to stay abreast of the current trends. Sites like LinkedIn and LISTSERVs from the Oregon Health Authority and HIPAA related technical organizations provide some of the richest information. Networking groups such as the Society for Information Management (SIM) and various alumni organizations, including AIM, allow me a chance to network with other peers and technology professionals. Finally, various business and technology news websites that I check on a daily basis complement the knowledge. Sites include,, Infoworld, LinkedIn, and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

How do you use your AIM education in support of your work?

AIM provided me with the tools to do meaningful and efficient research while attempting to find solutions and explore complex subjects. My Capstone project helped me cement my approach to doing quality research to make sure I was informed and knowledgeable on various complex projects. One such project was researching a large-scale infrastructure upgrade with desktops, monitors, servers, and copiers to lower power consumption rates and whether or not it was financially viable.
The knowledge I gleaned from AIM classes and classmates helped me ascend from IT lead to IT manager and eventually to IT director. The skillsets and friends I have developed through the AIM program continue to help me add value to any organization that I work with.

POSTED: October 14, 2013