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Behind the Scenes of Efficiency at National Heritage Academies

Haley Brink  |  September 11, 2020

Many employees at National Heritage Academies (NHA) are passionate about their jobs, and Kurt Barber is no exception. He works with multiple technology systems in NHA’s People Services Department as a People Services technology consultant, and even had a part in supporting employees during the pandemic.

Barber has been with NHA for nearly five years, though he started as a professional development data coordinator on the Credentialing team before moving into his current role. Now, he helps support most of the technology systems used in People Services as well as many of the day-to-day processes. “If someone in People Services needs tech help outside of our core systems, I am usually the guy to assist with such requests,” said Barber. “It’s rare that a week goes by without something that falls into this category.”

During the pandemic, he assisted with the Health Screening Form that all NHA schools, and the Service Center, NHA’s corporate headquarters, use to screen employees for COVID-19 before they enter their buildings.

“Kurt is looked at as a jack of all trades when it comes to technology,” said Jim Bell, manager of People Services technology. “He can be relied on by anyone to jump on the task and figure out a solution. I truly appreciate his creativity to problem solving and how he thinks outside the box to come up with a solution.”

Barber makes it a point to learn more for the betterment of his own work and for the benefit of his peers. “I don’t like to be pigeonholed into just one area of expertise,” said Barber. “We utilize a lot of different technologies in People Services, and I’m curious about each and every one. I enjoy discovering new or better ways of doing things, which sometimes leads down paths of learning new or different technologies.”

He admits that his favorite part of his job, and possibly the part he’s most passionate about, is Office 365, which is a large suite of applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneDrive, OneNote, SharePoint, Forms, Power Apps, Power Automate, and more. When he started at NHA, he was unfamiliar with many of them and was fascinated by all the productivity applications.

“I began to learn each one and kept up on the updates to each app,” said Barber. “I suppose I’m a bit of Office 365 evangelist now and enjoy showing others how they can benefit from using the apps in their own workflows. I like to show people there are better ways of working, organizing, and collaborating using these modern apps. I also like to be as self-sufficient as possible, and Office 365 provides users with the tools to be able to manage just about anything work-related.”

He also enjoys problem-solving because he understands what it’s like to complete tedious processes. “I’m unsettled when things don’t make sense, and I seek out ways to make it better or at least clearer,” said Barber. “When I see others in the same struggle, I’m motivated to help ease their pain. I see technology as a way of reducing the day-to-day slog for information workers and I want to be an active participant in alleviating some of the processes that weigh us down.”

Barber strives to ensure that People Services teams are able to support staff without technology problems so school staff can focus more on students. He also finds it gratifying when he can work on projects that make working for NHA better for teachers and leaders.

Keep up the incredible work, Kurt!