Marie Noriega, new interim director of business services, envisions growth and partnershipsby Jan Janes on Sep 3, 2020
Marie Noriega, Interim Director of Business
Services, steps into new leadership role.
Noriega joined Gavilan three years ago as business services supervisor and worked closely with her predecessor, who helped hone her skills. As the college deals with budget issues, it was a logical step to have someone from the inside step into the role.
“I did not come from the college world,” said Noriega, “But from K-12.”
Along her career path, she worked in various positions and school districts, gaining early experience in the warehouse and purchasing, and finishing as a senior accountant.
A South Bay native, Noriega grew up in San Jose and currently lives in Morgan Hill.
“I worked as a senior accountant for a few years, and I was interested in moving into a management role,” she said. She scouted positions, saw the Gavilan opening and thought it was a perfect fit.
“It was difficult to even apply,” said Noriega. “I had worked for 13 years with the same group of people, a very tight department, at Alum Rock Union Elementary School District.”
Taking on something new, a challenge, was her goal.
As interim director of business services, Noriega oversees the college’s business and support services: general accounting, accounts payable and receivable, purchasing, student account payments, payroll office, reprographics, the mailroom and warehouse.
“Including me, it’s a team of 15 people,” said Noriega.
Laura Hagan has been payroll supervisor for a length of time. Michele Anaya has moved into Noriega’s former position as business office supervisor, handling day to day operations.
“This is a big shift for the business office, really exciting growth for the entire department,” said Noriega. “Any time change comes, it gives us the opportunity to see things in a different light.”
One focus Noriega is implementing, as part of process improvement, is to streamline the ways the department can support the district.
“The entire team is dedicated to doing that,” she said. The accounting staff is shifting to a more focused view on their responsibilities and who they will help. Noriega noted that every program will know which person to contact for support.
“We want people to know we are always available,” said Noriega. “They can reach out to anybody on the business support team and get directed to the right person.” Walking people through the process and their budgets is a sentiment shared across the team.
The college has received its TRAN (tax revenue anticipation note), monies that will help with gaps in funding.
“Our cash flow issues are not a secret, they are discussed at Board of Trustees and budget meetings,” said Noriega. “To help with tracking, we will focus on a hard monthly close, looking at everything under a microscope.”
She also plans to increase lines of communication between business services and key people in the district – the Board, program managers and shared governance committees.
“One of the big things we’ve done is to combine program plan review and budgets,” she said. Noriega credited VPAA Denée Pescarmona and Sydney LaRose, Coordinator of Research Planning and Effectiveness for spearheading this effort.
“One thing people know about me is I have a very positive attitude, I see everything in a positive light,” said Noriega.
Her focus is not just on the business process, but on relationships and the human side of things. “That will be reflected in the direction we move the department,” she said.
“We’re not the program or instructional experts,” said Noriega. “We’re the fiscal experts. We need to form those partnerships to move in an upward direction with one another.”