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Stanford Report, May 15, 2002

A mainstay in ITSS customer support, Lundin packs in the hours, never says no


Scarcely two weeks after Chris Lundin moved his office from one building to another near Jordan Quad, his new space had the feel of an extremely small, well-furnished studio apartment.

Framed photographs and art covered the walls, and a yards-long vine, from one of several well-tended plants, meandered along the top of a wooden bookcase. A stereo stood against one wall and a tabletop fountain gurgled in a corner.

"I like to settle in and get things done," explains Lundin, technical operations supervisor for Information Technology Systems and Services (ITSS). "Work is a huge amount of my life, so I like it to be nice."

Lundin's ability to create a pleasant environment extends far beyond his oasis-like office. Lundin's 17 years at Stanford have been spent in customer support for ITSS -- an area where stress and even chaos are part of the job description. Lundin's steady, positive and "totally supportive" demeanor inspires confidence in both co-workers and clients, said the colleagues who nominated him for an Amy Blue Award.

From the loss of the network in an entire building to vanished Webmail, "there can be some pretty crummy situations," said Ben Patterson, a computing systems information analyst for the technical services team. Aside from being an always reliable source of technical information, "Chris never panics -- he always has a good attitude, no matter how bad it gets." In fact, Lundin's personal style is so encouraging and uplifting, Patterson leaves every encounter with Lundin feeling good, he said. "You come away feeling like you're doing your job."

A prodigious worker, Lundin keeps a laptop computer in the bedroom of his Palo Alto home and starts reading and sending e-mail soon after he rises at 4:30 a.m. (His inbox sometimes holds 3,000 messages.) In the office, Lundin is known for his readiness to tackle problems and his willingness to assist whenever he's asked, no matter who is doing the asking. In more than a decade of working together, "I can't recall him saying no, " said Tom Goodrich, manager of the technical support team in Academic Technology and Consulting. "He's told me he figures [people] wouldn't ask if they didn't need the help, and so he finds a way to help."

Despite Lundin's expertise, "I don't really consider myself technical," said the one-time psychology major. "I'm more interested in people and how technology helps them get their jobs done," he said.

Lundin, who switched his major and earned a business degree from Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, worked as a contract manager for Southern Pacific Transportation Co. in San Francisco before joining ITSS as a financial analyst in 1985. At Stanford, the computer revolution already was surging ahead. Twenty employees shared one computer at Southern Pacific, he said. "Here everyone had their own."

Lundin moved into computer customer support in 1989, in time to help roll out the Prism applications. Over the years, Lundin has managed a core group of employees who have worked together under a long string of different acronyms. Simply put, Lundin has been the glue that's held the ITSS customer support group together.

"He's the best manager of people I've ever known," said Jay Stamps, a member of the technical support group. "He leads by setting an example we all strain to follow. A lot of his work is behind the scenes and many, many Stanford people have benefited from his assistance without ever knowing they have."

"When I get started doing things, I have a hard time stopping," said Lundin, who sometimes caps off 14-hour work days by playing softball with the ITSS team -- the "Great Bauds" -- or with meetings of the Peninsula Interfaith Action to work on local housing issues. The father of three daughters, Lundin has been married for 28 years, has played piano at his church for 25 years and for the last two decades has played rock 'n' roll with his buddies in the "All Name No Stars" band.

"This job is never, ever done, and it takes a certain kind of person to be willing to put up with that," he said. "You have to say to yourself, 'I've worked as hard as I can today and I'll come back tomorrow and work as hard as I can again.' And we'll get through it."