University of Wisconsin–Madison

Meet Your New OHR HRIS Team

Catharine DeRubeis, HRIS Director

What is your background?

I grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin. In 1996, I enrolled at UW–Madison, majoring in history and communications. In 1998, I applied for an opening for a student position at the Academic Personnel Office (APO) and got the job. Every hour that I wasn’t in class, I was working! When I graduated in 2001, the director asked me if I was interested in building my career in human resources at UW–Madison. At that time, my primary focus was handling family medical leave questions and primarily supporting faculty HR. In 2010, I helped to implement the HRS software when we transitioned from our old mainframe system. That’s when I got more involved with technology in my work.

How you become interested in the technical aspect of HR?

I’ve always been on the functional side of HR technology, and obtained my technical skills on the job. HR functional people were needed on the HRS project to help develop the software. Talking with developers and consultants to understand how the system worked, and to design the tenure pages in HRS, was very interesting! I enjoyed helping people learn how to use the system once it was released. I also worked with the Madison systems that connect to HRS, primarily the Job and Employment Management System (JEMS), and so when the HRIS Director position was announced, I was definitely interested in exploring the opportunity. I began in the role in April.

What kinds of decisions do you make as a director?

Right now we’re prioritizing and defining what to do. The Query Library will be retired at the end of this year, and we’re working to ensure our users don’t experience a disruption with their reporting needs. We also need to make sure that all of the divisions are getting all of the ad hoc help that they need.

Data governance and security is a big part of the job. I’m the data steward for the faculty and staff domain, and am tasked with determining who receives access to which levels of data based on user needs.

What do you love the most, and find most challenging?

I love that I’m doing different things every day, and I like that I’m part of a team that’s providing better resources for the HR community. I know we can make a difference. Because this is a new role, however, it’s not always clear when I should be included in discussions. I want to make sure that HR has a voice at the table on technical issues.

What is your vision for the HRIS team both in the near and distant future?

Short term is very reports-focused. We’re a small team, and our goal is to establish HRIS as an OHR unit that focuses on developing reports and establishing the HR IT relationship. The long term goal is for the HRIS Team to play an active role in implementing new software and addressing the needs of our campus-wide HR community. We’re also interested in predictive analytics.

What do you want to make sure that the HR community knows about your team?

I’ve worked in OHR for a long time in several different departments, and want to continue to be available as a resource to everyone. Our goal is to meet with each division about what their reporting needs are. I know we will be a powerful new addition to the HR community and I’m excited to make a positive impact in the months to come.

Jon Vander Hill, HRIS Data Analyst & Metrics Specialist

What is your background?

I’ve been in Madison for 24 years. I was born in Michigan, grew up in Indiana, and went to college at Ball State. My background is math and computer science.

My family moved to Madison because we wanted to find a place where we actually wanted to live. The idea was to find a good quality of life, then a job for me. We were lucky enough to find both! I started as a management consultant at Grant Thornton. After that, I worked at a startup called Berbee Information Networks in Madison. We sold IBM, Cisco, and Microsoft products, as well as provided engineering consulting and support. I was in charge of our data center services.

Prior to joining OHR, I was a Program Manager for Advanced Analytics. My primary accomplishments there included leading the team that transitioned UW Health to a new data warehouse; introducing the use of time-series models in the analysis of financial aggregates; and leading an Agile Scrum team in the development of predictive models. While working full-time at UWHealth, I completed a Masters of Science in Statistics at Texas A&M.

Why does this industry interest you?

The academic and higher education aspects of working here are very interesting. I first started getting into computers in the late 70s, before the IBM PC and before the first Macintosh. I built my first computer—and successfully programmed Pong, as funny as that sounds! I’ve watched the birth and development of the PC and the Internet. When the Internet opened for commercial use, one of the first projects that I worked on was an e-commerce site for Lands End—one of the first! It was very experimental and we only had about ten products, but it was more successful than we’d anticipated! We had a marketing director who literally said in a meeting that the Internet was a fad and that we shouldn’t get involved in it. It sounds crazy now, but that’s how it seemed back in the day.


I started on OHR’s HRIS Team on September 10. Much of what I do revolves around business intelligence for the HR function, particularly regarding the retirement of the current Query Library.

What kind of data do you deal with?

Any data that is aggregated through the HR function, pertaining to everyone who works for the university, ranging from Administration and Academic Staff to Student Interns. I handle statistics, the essence of which is to be able to compare things. Another big responsibility is trend analysis. We look for parts that are growing, shrinking, or stagnant, and we ask ourselves why these things are happening.

What will be the most challenging part of your job?

UW–Madison is a big, decentralized organization, so communication becomes much more complicated. Decision-making structures within the university are very different from those at private corporations.

What are you looking forward to in the next few months regarding the HRIS team?

I’m very optimistic. Transitioning from the old Query System to Tableau is obviously an important priority. When I look a bit further ahead, I begin to think about our next step in HR analytics. I’m personally very interested in predictive analytics. I look forward to moving beyond “looking in the rear view mirror” at past data, and instead, using data to build models to anticipate what will happen in the future. Overall, I’ve wanted to work at the university for a number of years and am glad this opportunity came along. I love being on campus, I love the vibe, and I’m looking forward to having a positive impact with my coworkers.

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