Employee of the Month – Mihaela Bozdog
April 2017, Faculty Affairs Group
Mihaela Bozdog is known by her colleagues as “Miha,” but that’s not the only way they recognize her. They also say she is responsive, dedicated, kind and helpful. Extremely helpful.
As a faculty affairs specialist, Miha oversees faculty appointments, reappointments and promotions. She advises division chiefs and managers on university/school policy and provides expert guidance to committees on issues related to searches and long-form review. This means that Miha’s role, quite literally, is to help faculty succeed at Stanford.
But colleagues aren’t talking about logistics or a job description when they describe Miha as helpful: what they mean is that being helpful is a big part of who Miha is.
For example, Sang-ick Chang says, “Miha is unfailingly helpful and flexible and deals with new and complex situations with creativity and aplomb. She has developed trusting relationships with everyone around her, and this helps her solve problems that otherwise would be a challenge.” Gretchen Picache says, “With Miha, you know that she sincerely cares and not just about getting the job done well. She has the innate desire to build relationships, to help you, to connect with you… your needs, your life, your interests, your goals, your career. From the time I recruited her, the DOM Faculty Affairs Group hasn’t been the same. She brought with her a love of life, of people and a passion for everything she does and touches. One cannot help but be inspired and feel special when you meet and get to know her.”
Helping the Department
Tapping this spirit and approach, Miha directly contributes to the Department’s pursuit of its goals. Diana Kim says, “Miha shows continued and high level of professionalism and dedication to the Department of Medicine. She has diligently worked towards Department's goals and successfully responded to a heavy load of requests, special projects and urgent situations that she has handled beautifully.” Jerry Salas agrees. He says, “She is also always looking at ways she can help our team. She constantly comes up with ideas in meetings and gets us back on track whenever the conversation strays away from our goals.”
Baldeep Singh, who has worked with Miha for years, says he couldn’t do his job with her. He says, “Her help has been invaluable to me personally in trying to organize and move our A & P process in our division forward. She has been incredibly responsive, organized and willing to go the extra mile to help our faculty succeed at Stanford. She’s been willing to bridge all parts of the process to advocate and support our team.”
Catherine S. Forest reports that in her experience this kind of support is pretty special. She says, “Mihaela goes above and beyond in getting faculty ready for the process of academic progression. Her knowledge and kindness through the process of credentialing at Stanford are legendary. Recently, I have had four of my junior faculty go through the process, and I myself have gone through the promotion process. In each case, Miha was painstaking, as well as thoughtful, in her ability to explain, guide and gently approach references for success for our faculty. Having worked at four other institutions, I can tell you this level of professionalism – coupled with social grace – can be hard to find in medical staff offices. Miha is a gem.”
Helping her co-workers
Marina Martin has also seen firsthand Miha’s “legendary” helpfulness. She says Miha saved the day recently when there was an issue with re-appointment for two members of the faculty: “It required fast and sensitive handling, and with one short email request Miha took the reins. She quickly, professionally and highly competently solved the problem in one day. That was hours of agony she saved the physician leadership in our division! Mihaela is simply excellent at her job, and we are so grateful for her help in our quickly growing, changing division.”
Outside problem-solving – and even outside the specific parameters of daily responsibilities – Miha makes a difference for her colleagues in other ways, too. Salas, for example, credits Miha with helping him advance his career. He says, “Miha took on the job of becoming my mentor when I first started in faculty affairs. She was patient with me and taught me in a way that was easy to understand. She also constantly pushed me to keep pursuing a higher understanding of my work rather than just the basic knowledge I needed. Less than a year after working in my position, I was promoted. I believe this would not have been possible without Miha's guidance. She taught me everything I know, and pushed me to work as hard as I can.”
He adds, “She is also the first to volunteer her time for people that need to take leave, or are going on vacation.” Diana Kim appreciates this, as well. She says, “Without hesitation, Miha always commits herself to the team and immerses herself in helping others, be it by covering for leave or by offering her help and support to everyone in our team.”
Miha, who says she is overwhelmed by the honor of receiving the Employee of the Month award, admires her colleagues as much as they admire her. She says, “I feel rewarded almost every day, and I was not expecting a public recognition for loving my job. Every ‘thank you’ that I get is testimony that my work is appreciated and, to me, this is plenty already.”
In part, she loves her job for what she is able to do for others. She says, “I am cognizant of the impact my job has on other people, and I do not take that for granted. If I can make someone’s life easier, I do it in a heartbeat. I have met too many wonderful people along my journey who’ve been my role models. Even if they (all) don’t know who they are, I don’t want to let them down.”
And she doesn’t, of course. Kurt Hafer says, “It is her kind, gentle nature and dedication that makes her both successful at what she does and a joy to work with.” And Picache says, “She is not just an exemplary worker, but also an exemplary individual who dedicates herself to making a difference in everyone’s lives. She is a star. She is an asset. She is an absolute joy to work with, and we are very fortunate to have her as part of our team.”
So who/what helps Miha? She says when she’s not at work, she spends as much time as possible on hiking trails. She also likes to travel, to create “art stuff” and to write. She loves listening to old jazz music while sipping from a glass of wine and to Santana, specifically, when cleaning the house. And, she confesses, “Sometimes I just listen to Santana, and that’s it.”
Mihaela joined the Stanford Faculty Development Center in 2006 as a part-time administrative associate and later as a part-time faculty affairs administrator in the Division of General Medical Disciplines. She left faculty affairs in 2012 for a position in the Office of Academic Affairs and re-joined the DOM as faculty affairs specialist in 2014.