Employee of the Month – Arnold Shir

March 2017, Stanford Health Policy

Arnold Shir, a research assistant at Stanford Health Policy, says that his work keeps him on his toes… and that he enjoys every second of it.

Sometimes, of course, that’s just what people say, but Arnold’s enjoyment of his work is clear to colleagues like Marcella Alsan, who calls him “a ray of sunshine.” Nicole Feldman says, “I have never met a more positive person than Arnold Shir.” Along with colleagues Michelle Zhao and Elena Lucchese, she specifically remarks on Arnold’s “sunny disposition.”

Even more ways to say “sunshine”

The “have a great day” positivity. The “I'll take care of it” response to any request. The “I came by to have you sign this because I wanted to say hello in person.” Those are just three ways Kathryn McDonald describes Arnold’s sunny disposition. For Soka Keo, it’s that Arnold is “really hardworking, extremely dedicated and an absolute joy to be around.  He radiates positive energy and always has a smile on his face.” And for Jeanette Cowan, it’s that “he makes every day fun. He has such a bubbly personality and is very attuned to the feelings and ideas of others.” 

Sheryl Davies explains it this way: “On sitcoms, there are often characters with unending optimism toward life and passion for everything they do – Lesley Knope, Kenneth Parcell, you know the ones. They can make even the Ron Swansons and Liz Lemons look at the world a little differently just by being themselves. Well, that describes Arnold.” And Neesha Joseph says, “Arnold has never ceased to be anything other than sunny, supportive and kind. He embodies professionalism, while being relaxed and good natured enough to keep everyone at ease.”

Considering his workload, it’s remarkable that he maintains such high spirits. It can be difficult to juggle call schedules, webinar technology, data security, reporting materials and deadline tracking even when everything’s running smoothly.

A unifying force

When Arnold says, “I assist our team with any tasks that come down the pipeline as needed,” the “as needed” often means addressing complications, like issues with conference lines or conflicting schedules. And for Arnold, those are just additional opportunities to, well, shine.

Soka Keo says, “He gets a lot of last minute changes/requests, and you will never hear him complain.  Even if he has a major deadline, he’s cool, calm and collected.” Lee Sanders agrees. He says, “Arnold is a consistent positive spirit and organizational rock at CHP/PCOR.  For our AHRQ research team, Arnold make sure that each faculty member is compliant with national training, prepared for upcoming meetings and following through on timelines and deliverables. And he does it all in such a giving and thoughtful way that you never feel guilty or rushed.” 

“Arnold is known as one of the busiest staff at the center,” says Kyueun Lee, who adds that she really appreciates how his positivity brings people together. Matthew Tarduno notes it, as well: “Arnold Shir acted as an eternal ray of sunshine in an otherwise very rainy month. He's acted as a bridge to bring me closer to my co-workers, and I know that I am not alone in that regard.”

Rachel Moericke echoes these sentiments: “Arnold brings so much joy to my work environment every day.  He is an exceptional team player.  He is always willing to take on any task to support his team and actively seeks to help and support his colleagues especially when tasks are time sensitive or under pressure. Our team has had several deadlines that apply a lot of pressure, and he is always there to lighten the mood.”

Going into even greater detail about what this means to the team, Nancy Lonhart says, “In every workplace, there is one employee whose attitude serves to lift even the most dour and disgruntled worker from a crazy day. Arnold is that employee. Every day he shines his bright light of enthusiasm and goodwill on anyone who crosses his path. Why is this important? Too often, we bury ourselves in our work, and when we do that, we lose touch. Arnold doesn’t allow us to lose touch with what’s important – us, our team and the people we work with! Whether he’s coordinating schedules for a group meeting on BlueJeans, reaching out to the admin team about booking the conference room or providing meeting minutes, Arnold’s smile and enthusiastic ‘can-do’ attitude remind us all that anything is possible… together.”

Beth Duff-Brown reports something similar about the way that Arnold breaks through those silos. She says, “Arnold is a team player who is always ready to help anyone in our family here at Stanford Health Policy. Not only does he perform his research duties with skill and speed, he goes out of his way to help others. I’m the communications manager, and he’s always coming to me with news about faculty and publications and suggesting social media postings. While so many of us sit hunkered down in front of our computers all day, Arnold is always buzzing around talking to folks and offering to help.”

Arnold believes he also benefits from this team dynamic. He says, “I feel that my winning this award is a testament to the wonderful people I work with, directly and indirectly, at PCOR. Everyone is knowledgeable beyond belief and extremely humble about what they do. The people I have met here are some of the kindest, hardest working people I know. Everyone here works so diligently, and it only pushes me to work harder, inside the workplace and out.”

Speaking of outside…

Arnold’s efforts to support his colleagues don’t end at the office door. Many of his co-workers begin their praise with these words: “Even in a non-work capacity….”

For example, Chika Egemba says, “Arnold stays positive and will go out of his way to help anyone who asks. Even in a non-work capacity, Arnold looks out for PCOR. He made sure we were notified about the recent flooding alerts in San Jose. Arnold always goes out of his way to ask how everyone is doing.” Shilpa Jani was impressed by the same occasion. She says, “Arnold works very hard. He is here early every day with a smile on his face, always willing to go the extra mile to help and support his colleagues. During the flooding in San Jose, he made sure that everyone was aware of resources available and made sure that information was circulated.”

Outside of work, Arnold also enjoys spending time with friends and family, playing volleyball, attempting basketball and online gaming. As of late, he says he’s also trying to become a more active member of his community in Milpitas and the broader Bay Area. Feldman may have some ideas for that, saying, “If I could nominate Arnold for Congress, I would, but [for now] I'd like to nominate him for Employee of the Month to recognize his contributions to our Center and our hearts.” Whether he takes Feldman’s suggestion or not, Arnold says being involved and helping the community will likely be a lifelong pursuit. “It is something that brings me great joy,” he says.

Arnold has been with the Department of Medicine since January 2016. He is a 2015 graduate of San Francisco State University where he majored in kinesiology with an emphasis in fitness, physical activity and society. While at SFSU, he started up a free community exercise program with a classmate and still works with the program today.