UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > February 2002 Search

February 2002

Random Profile:
Sandra Sundquist

Every other month, Staff Notes Monthly spotlights a stochastically chosen staff member. This month we profile Sandra Sundquist, who handles materials procurement for Physical Plant Services.

How the Civil War brought Sandy’s family to Colorado: Colorado natives may be a rare species these days, but Sandy can trace her family’s Boulder County roots back to the post–Civil War era. Her great-grandfather, who served in the Illinois militia, was rewarded with an allocation of land in Louisville. "I am so native to this area," Sandy says. "I love everything about Colorado." She plans to stay—especially since all three of her daughters live in Colorado. And one of them, Julie Harris, works in SCD.
Sandy Sundquist in the ML boiler room.
(Photo by Carlye Calvin.)

Why she came to NCAR: One day about 11 years ago, Julie showed her mother a description of a job opening for a procurement position in Physical Plant Services. Sandy, who was looking for a new job, had extensive experience in accounting, purchasing, and inventory. She realized her credentials were a perfect match for the opening. "I’ve done that, and I’ve done that, and I’ve done that," she recalls saying as she scanned through the job description. "The job jelled all my various backgrounds together."

What’s exciting about buying parts for an old boiler? Sandy is part of a team that sees to it that equipment in every building runs smoothly—including computer equipment that needs power around the clock. Ideally, maintenance is a largely invisible operation, since employees don’t think about calling for service as long as everything remains functional. "Our job is to be as inconspicuous as possible," Sandy explains.

But the Mesa Lab is almost 40 years old—and things wear down after several decades. Finding a replacement part for, say, a 1960s-era boiler can be a challenging task. The alternative, however, would be to spend a lot more money replacing the entire boiler. So Sandy works patiently with salespeople to track down appropriate parts for boilers and other aging equipment.

"A lot of what we do is a team effort," she says. "People in maintenance define the requirements, and salespeople generally find it. I can’t think of many times when we’ve gone looking for something that we haven’t been able to keep things running."

Another plus: "I get to interface with people throughout UCAR, and I like that."

A battle against cancer: Sandy’s positive outlook was tested in 1998, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now cancer-free, she calls that time a "negative-positive experience." Despite the fear and pain, she recalls the everyday rewards of receiving support from family members and coworkers. "People you already know, you get to know in a different way. People step up for you."

She remains appreciative of her maintenance-team colleagues, who pitched in to do her job while she was sick. And she has especially high praise for Cyd Perrone in Human Resources, who interceded for her in disputes with her insurance company. "It was actually easier to face cancer than to face some of the insurance issues," Sandy recalls. "I worked a lot with Cyd. She’s a very special person."

Sandy made it through the experience by "treating it like I would any other disease. I took care of it like everything else that happens in life." Her illness left her more appreciative of the good things in her life. Her philosophy: "It’s not what God takes away from us. It’s what we do with what’s left."

Dark ink and a firm handshake: Sandy’s eclectic interests have taken her far from the traditions of atmospheric science. She likes reading about astrology and numerology. When her daughters were teenagers, she took a correspondence class in handwriting analysis to help gauge her daughters’ emotional states without necessarily confronting them. Their handwriting, she learned, became darker and heavier when they were under stress. "It was a way of looking at what was going on without being intrusive," she says. Sandy also has learned to read people through their handshakes—a talent she’s found helpful when negotiating with salespeople.

Family first: Sandy married her high school sweetheart, Dennis, some 38 years ago. In addition to their three daughters (Denise Anderson, Wendy England, and Julie), they have three sons-in-law whom they regard as their own children ("I never put the ‘in-law’ in ‘son-in-law,’ " Sandy says) and seven grandchildren. Although she reads widely and takes classes in a variety of subjects, Sandy’s favorite pastime is watching her grandchildren participate in sports and other events.

"We’re a very close family," she says. "It’s what keeps me going."


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UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes Monthly > February 2002 Search

Edited by David Hosansky, hosansky@ucar.edu
Prepared for the Web by Carlye Calvin
Last revised: Fri Feb 22 17:08:40 MST 2001