Engineer becomes new Management Services chief

Portrait of Pat Donaldson standing in front of Central Office
Management Services Chief Pat Donaldson

Pat Donaldson's career has been all about building things and solving problems. 

After getting a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Idaho, he went to work for Morrison-Knudsen. For 15 years, he traveled the country building multi-million dollar construction projects like a hydroelectric powerhouse in Georgia, light rail systems in California and Oregon, and the E470 Freeway in Colorado.

Now he's been asked to use his engineering and leadership skills to run IDOC's Management Services Division with a special eye toward improving the department's information systems.

"Our IT department is significantly understaffed, and our hardware and software systems are out of date," Donaldson says. "If the department is going to be successful, we need to invest in IT."

Pat was born and raised in Emmett. When he became a father, he decided to return home and settle down.  He joined IDOC and was in for a surprise. He expected his co-workers to be stereotypical state employees. Instead, he found dedicated professionals at all levels of the department, from line staff to leadership; people who were passionate about their jobs and constantly searching for creative solutions to difficult problems. 

As an engineer, Donaldson was right at home.

"Corrections is a hard business. We are not the most popular state agency and receiving adequate resources and funding is a constant battle." Donaldson says. "Our employees have devised ingenious ways to do more with less."

During his 16 years with IDOC, Donaldson has worked as construction supervisor, facility services manager and deputy chief of Contract Services. As chief of the Management Services Division, Donaldson says he will focus on providing his staff with the resources they need to do their jobs efficiently and encouraging them to be flexible as they respond to the changes affecting the department.

"The (Management Services) division has professional staff and proven managers that require little supervision," Donaldson says. "My job will be to let them get their work done…and to communicate with the other divisions to make sure we are working as a team." 

IDOC's new strategic plan has designated the enhancement of IT staff and systems as one of the Management Services Division's priorities. Donaldson says the first step will be to identify the gaps in IT services and to determine how the department can obtain the appropriate resources to fill them.

But don't expect to hear Donaldson complaining about the size of the job. As an engineer, his focus is on finding solutions.

"When I was in high school, I heard a quote I never forgot.  It stated, 'It's thinking about the load that makes one tired," Donaldson recalls. "Sometimes we spend more time discussing how we can't do something than planning it and moving it forward."

With an engineer at the helm, you can expect to see the Management Services Division doing the appropriate amount of planning but with a focus on moving forward.

 

 

 

Story published: 08/15/2013
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