|APAC Member Uma Sriram.|
A PERSONAL invitation from University colleague and Academic Professional Advisory Committee Chair Michael Moss brought Uma Sriram into active APAC service last summer.
“I HAD heard of the committee, but didn’t pay a lot of attention,” Sriram recalled of her APAC exposure prior to May 2013. “Michael Moss—he’s a good friend—sent out a call for volunteers, and asked me to attend a couple of meetings and see if I liked what I saw.”
ATTENDING THOSE initial meetings showed Sriram that the group included many people she already knew, while offering the opportunity to meet more from across the University.
“THE ABILITY to network and the chance to meet other Academic Professionals and talk about things on a campus level—to understand issues and needs on the Chicago campus” spurred Sriram’s decision to join the committee, she said.
LEARNING MORE about the Chicago campus particularly interested Sriram, whose work as Assistant Director of Accounting Consulting Group takes her to all University of Illinois campuses. The consulting group is part of University Accounting and Financial Reporting, which serves all three campuses and is responsible for the University’s financial reporting and accounting, including setting up funds and ensuring units understand the policies and procedures for funding use. The consulting group, which Sriram joined in November 2007, provides assistance to units for these functions and goes into units as needed.
“I REALLY do enjoy it,” Sriram said of her APAC participation. “When I was not part of APAC, I had only a small understanding of issues. When sitting on the sidelines, I didn’t realize what was happening. I now realize a lot more, and I have gotten to know all the APAC members and have established contacts I can reach out to.”
ELECTION TO the subcommittee for professional development is proving especially fulfilling for Sriram. “This is of particular interest to me,” she said. “I always look for ways to improve myself and learn more, so this seemed a natural fit.”
SHE CITED a well-attended and successful “Speed Networking” event in November 2013 that provided in-person connections for Academic Professionals from the East and West sides of the Chicago campuses. The 90-minute session featured three-minute meetings for all participants—and resulted in requests to repeat the event. A two-part session focusing on the art of persuasion and featuring techniques, strategies and case studies is currently underway. Sriram said the committee is aiming to hold additional professional development events in upcoming months.
PRIOR TO her current position in the Accounting Consultant Group, Sriram served as Assistant Director of Finance in Campus Auxiliary Services for six-and-a-half years.
MARRIAGE BROUGHT her to Chicago from Cochin, on India’s southern tip, in 1989. Sriram had already studied accounting and earned a master’s degree in India. Once in the U.S., she completed the Certified Public Accounting (CPA) exam, and later also completed the Certified Management Accountant (CMA) credential, which demonstrates command of critical accounting and financial management skills.
ALONG WITH her spouse, who works as a self-employed IT consultant, Sriram raised two children: a daughter who is attending Tufts University for both veterinary medicine and public health, and a son who will graduate in May from the University of Michigan with a degree in mechanical engineering and a plan to earn a master’s degree in biomedical engineering.
“I LOVE to travel,” Sriram said, citing journeys to Costa Rica, Peru, Austria, Hungary, Germany, Switzerland, and Greece. She also returns often to India, including two trips recently to help siblings care for their mother and her home.
AND YES, people frequently inquire if her name is the same as a well-known American actress. “‘Is it like Uma Thurman?’ they ask. And I tell them, ‘Yes,’” Sriram said. “Otherwise, they call me ‘Yoo-ma.’”
TO CONTACT Sriram, email firstname.lastname@example.org.