How I Work: Frankie Frain, Director of Networking and Telecommunications

Name: Frankie Frain

Job Title, Department: Director of Networking and Telecommunications, IT

Current Mobile Device(s): iPhone 6

Current Computer(s): MacBook Air 2013, running Yosemite, Mac Mini 2012, running Yosemite

One word that describes how you work: lists

Describe a typical day: I manage a team of Systems and Networking administrators. Together, we manage the college’s data infrastructure, including the wireless and wired networks, the health and backup of all servers, and our network security. On a typical day, I’m answering questions and submitting requests (almost all by email), and attending meetings (I attend about four meetings a day). I live on my Macbook Air laptop and my iPhone. I find myself glancing at email constantly, either to put out fires before they happen, or to stay on top of requests that come into my department or actions I have to take to get my requests fulfilled.

What apps, software, or tools can’t you live without? Why? My whole life is in my email – I treat my Inbox as a task list. If there’s a message in the inbox, it’s because I have to take action on it. If I don’t have to take action, I delete or sort the message. My mail client of choice is the Outlook Web App, because it’s web accessible and doesn’t push/pull mail in a way that causes syncing problems. The other app I have open constantly is a chat and IM client called Slack, which allows me to be in close contact with the entire IT department and its student workers at all times. It’s great for general knowledge, general discussion, and emergencies. I also really enjoy the ability to log into the Softphone from home so I can answer my work extension when working remotely – no one knows I’m not at work!

What is your office or desk like? Tidy or chaotic? I don’t much value my physical office/physical desk. Everything I need to do can be done on my laptop or on my home computer. So my desk is pretty tidy, because it’s very sparse. Instead, I have a couch, whiteboard, and many seats in my office so the space can act as a small meeting space or collaboration room with my staff.

What do you use to keep track of your schedule? My Exchange calendar, almost exclusively, and I sync that to the Calendar app on my iPhone. If I need to be someplace at a certain time, it goes onto the Calendar, without exceptions. One dirty secret I have is that I mark lunch on my calendar from 12 to 1 so that it’s less likely that people will schedule meetings at that time.

What’s your best time­-saving shortcut or life hack? Using keyboard shortcuts as much as humanly possible. Using the mouse to get to everything (like copying/pasting or quitting a window) adds several seconds to every task, which honestly adds up after a while.

How do you manage your email inbox? As described above, I’m obsessive about responding and then sorting my email. I’m a bit paranoid that if I don’t keep on top of the pile, it will become unmanageable and things will fall through the cracks. So I try to keep myself and my team on top of all requests or action items as they come in. Additionally, I forward all voice-mail to my email, so that I never have to check the phone, and I can manage voice-mails just like email. If I can avoid talking on the phone, I do – I find it to be a bit time consuming and difficult to fit in impromptu phone discussions when I’m in meetings most of the day.

What’s your favorite lunch spot around Emerson? I love the Number 2 at Lambert’s Deli, across from the Park Street T stop. I tend to eat with some friends from IT (and sometimes other departments) in the Piano Row Cafeteria on the second floor.

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