Employee of the Month - Sheryl Davies

February 2016, CHP/PCOR

“It was somewhat fortunate I wasn’t wearing cycling or running clothes to the [Employee of the Month] breakfast,” says Sheryl Davies. When her colleagues surprised her with the award, they easily could have caught Sheryl in her workout clothes racing to fit everything into her day. Not only is she a research associate at the Stanford Center for Health Policy and the Center for Primary Care and Outcomes Research (CHP/PCOR), Sheryl’s a mother to three boys who also makes time for enjoying endurance sports, baking and sometimes fostering dogs for a local rescue.

Sheryl’s colleagues don’t know how she does it all. Some wonder if she sleeps. All of them agree she’s generous with the attention she gives to her work and to her colleagues.

Administrative Assistant Soka Keo has experienced this personally. She says, “Sheryl has always taken the time to explain things to me thoroughly even though she is super busy with work.  Sheryl makes every effort to answer any of my questions as soon as she can no matter how big or small the question is. She has a wealth of knowledge and is always willing to share what she knows.”

But Soka’s not the only one who’s noticed that Sheryl is a skilled and patient mentor. PCOR Executive Director Kathy McDonald says, “Sheryl mentors staff from entry-level to experienced and helps them build their research careers.”

Neesha Joseph, a program manager for the Stanford Center on the Demography and Economics of Health and Aging, agrees. She says, “Sheryl works tirelessly on her research tasks while providing ongoing training to more junior researchers to help them grow their careers and better contribute to the research efforts of the department. Not only is she incredibly intelligent and dedicated, but she is kind and conscientious and committed to ensuring the well-being and professional development of those around her.”

Work-life balance

Sheryl’s ability to mentor extends beyond the four walls of the center. Sometimes, says Kathy, Sheryl “shields the rest of the staff from undo pressure, taking it on herself so that they can have work-life balance. She does somehow manage to achieve that balance herself, probably because she doesn't need as much sleep as most of us.”

Research Assistant Connie Bohling describes Sheryl’s efforts this way: “She never misses a potential opportunity to mentor and train research assistants and interns. She displays the utmost patience for all questions, even for the most basic administrative tasks. Additionally, she works to ensure that the work environment stays positive and collegial and leaves room for ample work-life balance.”

One of the ways she does this is by modeling the balance herself, says Rachel Moericke, a research manager.  “If there is anything I need she will always make sure the needs of her staff are met no matter how many other competing priorities there are.  In addition, she sets a great example by leading a healthy, active lifestyle and always maintains a positive attitude in light of various work challenges. ”

An amazing place to work

Responding to news of the award, Sheryl quickly gives credit to those around her. She says, “I do work hard, but in my position I consistently get recognition through paper authorship or other academic credit. To make that happen, I am surrounded by a ton of people who do their jobs without that sort of recognition and do it well. They put up with my quirks and really help the team run. Everyone from the finance and administration, to research support staff, to those that keep the building maintained and computers running are right on top of it every day and really make my job possible.”

Sheryl says CHP/PCOR is an “amazing place to work” and believes it is “truly unique.” She explains, “It has a culture that respects everyone’s role in making truly important research happen. Everyone has a chance to have ideas and to grow. There is an environment here that helps everyone succeed.” It’s no wonder Sheryl has such a soft spot for CHP/PCOR and Stanford. She came to Stanford at age 18 as an undergrad and stayed for her MA. Because she was, in her words, “young and in love,” she didn’t want to leave Stanford to pursue consulting options after graduation. She interviewed at CHP/PCOR and realized it was a great match.

And that’s not the only great match she made at Stanford. Sheryl says, “The boy I stayed around Stanford for – well, he is my husband of nearly 17 years, and we have three great children.”