Symplicity Spotlight: Gary Deaton

Each and every day, our client managers across the globe help make our clients' day-to-day just a little bit easier so that they can better support their students. With a client support team that comes from across the student success spectrum, clients continuously speak to the dedication of our client support team, and we at Symplicity want to give them the attention they deserve. In our series, Symplicity Spotlight, we’re pulling back the curtain on our client support team.

In our latest installment, we shine a spotlight on our beloved Gary Deaton, Symplicity's CSM Client and Implementation Manager. Gary joined the Symplicity team in March of 2019 with more than 20 years of experience in the learning and technology sectors . At Symplicity Gary helps clients across Latin America, the Caribbean, and Central America with CSM. Get to know a little bit more about Gary and our Latin America team below. 

Before you joined Symplicity, what was your role in higher ed and what topics are you most passionate about? If you do not come from higher education, what overlapping interests or passions brought you to this work?
Before joining Symplicity I worked for several years in the EdTech industry, specifically in an e-learning and talent development company based in Mexico City, with a client base located throughout Latin America. Although our clients were mostly corporate based, this is where I really cut my teeth in delivering high-quality technology services to our clients. Before that, I was a National Director of Services at the American Chamber of Commerce of Mexico where I was responsible, among other services, for our Job Bank which at that time was one of the largest and most important in all of Mexico.  So, when the opportunity at Symplicity came up, I was quite excited because I could leverage my prior experience in technology, talent development, and talent recruitment to better serve our clients in higher education.
What got you interested in higher education? 
I find it very exciting to work with universities that are forming the new generation of talent in Latin America. Our clients in the region tend to be among the most prestigious universities in their countries and are at the forefront of developing the skills and knowledge that the region needs to meet the fast-growing demand for the modern work force.
What made you join Symplicity and look into EdTech?
Again, the opportunity to work as a client manager at Symplicty really brought together my interests and passions—technology, talent development, and talent recruitment, while at the same time having the opportunity to work closely with some of Latin Americas most important learning institutions. It was a perfect mix and, so far, I have not been disappointed.
How does your previous work in higher ed help you support clients?
My work at the American Chamber job bank prepared me to understand the challenges that Employability and Career Services offices in universities are facing every day—how to match candidates with the right job opportunity and how to support companies in their recruitment efforts. Likewise, my experience in Ed Tech made me more empathetic to the needs and requirements of end users. I always try to remember what it was like for me as I was learning the ins and outs of a new software platform when I am working with our university clients.
In your view, what are some of the biggest changes student success roles in higher ed have faced the last five years, in in Latin America?
The pace of change is much more rapid that it was just 5 or 10 years ago. Universities are confronted with new demands and challenges almost every semester. This is especially true in Latin America where there is so much potential for growth and economies are racing to meet the needs of growing populations. Student Success areas in universities are being asked to evolve and meet new demands on a constant basis.
From an international perspective, what are the challenges facing students in Latin America?
The same situation that I mentioned earlier also means that students are being pressured to evolve rapidly and acquire skills that can be implemented across jobs and economic sectors. The demand for cross-sector skills is high and growing. Also, we know that Latin American populations tend to be young, and they are growing. However, there are not as many good job opportunities for students graduating from universities in Latin America as there are in the United States. Competition is fierce and students need to have access to a wide range of employability services in their universities to ensure that they find meaningful work quickly upon graduation.
What’s the biggest pain points for clients and professionals focused on career services/career readiness today?
There are many, but I believe that one of the biggest challenges faced by our clients is convincing students to engage in developing their employability skills in a constant and meaningful way. In other words, getting students to take advantage of the services that career readiness areas can offer them. There are so many demands on the time and attention of students that it is difficult to attract their interest from the first day they enter into universities. Many students wait until the very end of their studies to begin thinking about these matters when they can begin several years before! Career readiness offices can begin helping them from the very first day they are on campus.
Tell us a story of a client’s struggle that you helped them solve with CSM?
I have a client in Chile that was struggling to create a community for their graduates that are interested/participating in entrepreneurial activities. We were able to successfully configure the ProNet module in a way that allows graduates to self-manage their communication and interaction with other graduates who have similar interests.
What’s your favorite feature within CSM and why?
I really like the Career Fair module, both for in-person and virtual fairs. It’s an easy way for universities to bring together companies and their students/alumni to the advantage of both. The amount of job offers made through the Career Fair module is significant.
What’s a feature you think people don’t use enough?
The Pathways module can be used to meet very specific objectives, ensuring that students complete certain activities or acquire skills. I have found that in Latin America, very few of our clients are using it, but those that do have achieved very positive results.
What is one thing you would tell someone considering CSM?
Symplicity has many years of experience in supporting universities with their employability needs. We have been listening to clients for all of those years and developing functionality that meets university objectives. Likewise, our support and consulting services are second to none. Many other companies offer online job banks. Symplicity offers a full range of employability tools designed to allow universities to deliver the services their students need to develop their employability skills, look for and apply for good jobs and, finally, start working in the productive economy.
Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? Tell us a little about yourself! What brought you to Latin America?

I originally came to Latin America as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Guatemala in the early 1990 and later worked as a Peace Corps Trainer. I moved to Mexico in 1994 and have been here since, working with companies, universities and NGOs throughout the region. There is never a dull day here. The pace of change is staggering, and the change is positive. There is so much growth, development and challenge. It is an exciting place to live and work. I get the opportunity to travel around the region and interact with colleagues from many countries. The differences can be subtle or obvious, but it is always a pleasant experience. Outside of work, I really like to study the history of places that I visit. I find it fascinating to visit a place and understand what has happened there, be it consequential to the greater scheme of things or not. I’m also a huge fan of University of Kentucky basketball and football since I was a little kid listening to the games on the radio with my dad.

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CSM, career readiness, Career Services, support, Symplicity Spotlight, client success

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