Maria Pacheco, academic assistant for the Faculty of Medicine, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies Office, has been making service excellence a priority since starting work at uOttawa in 2007. Her dedication to her job, her colleagues and the students she serves makes her a true example of a Service Excellence champion. You can always find her smiling or sharing a laugh with someone.
What does service excellence mean to you?
It means having a positive attitude, being attentive, understanding others’ needs and being aware of your body language. It’s also offering solutions, good solutions, and being kind. Having respect for the community, for different ethnic groups, and being attentive to their customs. Not being judgmental and speaking calmly are key parts of good in-person service.
Do you have one piece of advice for fellow employees on how to integrate service excellence into their daily lives?
Be yourself, but a smile doesn’t hurt. It’s important to show your best side. Be admirable even if you’re tired when you’re working — crack a joke, smile, it doesn’t take too much to make a difference. Your attitude affects other people, so if you feel as if you’re in bad mood just try and take a breather, change your perspective and move on.
If you could learn anything for work, what would you try to learn? Why?
With customer service you learn so much, and are learning every day. Being out there talking to people, you don’t know what the person is going through but you can make a difference.
What is the most meaningful thing in the work you do?
Being able to help and support my colleagues and students.
Do you have a favourite story from work?
The time when I made a student who was shy and distressed into someone who had more confidence and who felt less stressed about her studies is by far my favourite work story. I treated her the same way I would want myself or my daughters to be treated, which ended up helping her in succeeding.
What do you love to do?
Painting. It helps me disconnect and lose myself completely.