Wendy Grayauskie, Assistant Director for Procurement at Villanova University, and Miguel Silva, Procurement Assistant for CSU Monterey Bay, joined us for the 4th installment of our podcast: PaymentWorks Presents Risky Business.
Below is an edited excerpt from that conversation where they discuss how the title of this blog is what keeps them up at night. You can listen to the full podcast here.
Taylor Nemeth: You both are counterparts in higher education institutions, one on the West Coast and one on the East Coast. Could you please tell us about your roles at your respective schools.
Wendy Grayauskie: I am the Assistant Director for Procurement at Villanova University, so that means I am in charge of all the accounts payable, disbursements, procurement card, the vendor information and everything else.
Miguel Silva: I'm the vendor guy at California State University Monterey Bay. I have to onboard all the vendors, review their information, and put it into our system for payment so that they can get paid. I help people get paid.
Taylor: We hear quite a bit around the different types of people you pay in higher education, whether it's speakers, individual, foreign, domestic. How much of a challenge is that for you?
Miguel: We are a state agency, so obviously we have to be at the forefront of following state law and state legislation. There are a lot of rules that say in the banking world, you're either a person or you're a business, A or B. That's pretty straightforward. When you come to higher education,” hotel rooms” is a thing. If someone's doing something that may have to do with legal counsel that's a whole other thing. LLCs versus LLPs versus corporations versus DBAs. There's a lot of, "If they check Box A, we go this way. If they check Box B, we go a completely different way." Helping them, paying them, tax reporting, you name it. There's a lot of ins and outs.
Wendy: I've always said higher education is our own little monster. It is not like being in a corporation. I have different challenges than Miguel does because of his state having to worry about certain regulations where I don't have that. Just because we're private doesn't mean we get to do whatever we want either. We still have to follow federal and state rules on certain things. We've got five different colleges, and every college is going to want to do things differently. You always have the people who want to get around what you want to do. They don't realize that we're not sitting in our ivory tower trying to make up rules just to annoy them. Our job is to protect the university and our resources, and making sure that we're using proper people.
Taylor: Has remote work changed any expectations about timeliness from your constituents' perspective or any of the rules that you do on a daily basis? Has anything been relaxed? How has that process changed since you've been working from home?
Miguel: Actually, I would say that COVID has benefited that for us, at least for CSUMB. Honest to God, before we went into lockdown, we were still faxing. I mean, we were faxing documents. We were faxing POs. Having to make a sudden shift to everything's got to be able to be done from home has been great because now everything's electronic. It is faster. We did pretty well. Departments still expect the same turnaround that we had.
Wendy: We went from in the office to remote pretty seamlessly. Before we did PaymentWorks it was on paper and then you had to [physically] take it down somewhere else. Now with PaymentWorks, we've got the vendor filling our information. The way we set PaymentWorks up with having anything that needs risk management's view I don't have to fax it or take it down the hall. We've got that going right to risk management and they can look and say, "Yes, we have a contract for this, yes, they have the right insurance to be on campus."
Everybody having access to be able to see where it is in the process has been huge. I remember years ago when we had paper everybody was like, "Whose desk is it on?" Now they can see whose desk it is on and who they can complain to. Instead of me getting a lot of those phone calls, when they see it's in Risk, they know to call there. If they see it's in IT, it's somebody else.
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Taylor: What's the one thing that you wish everyone knew about what you do on a daily basis?
Miguel: It seems like an easy thing to say, "Hey, this vendor filled out this form, put them in your system." You know, "You're typing. Just type some things in." There's still analysis that I have to do on my end before I can just move information from one side to another. PaymentWorks does a lot of the heavy lifting, which I really appreciate. [But] what's the tax withholding on this? I have to make that determination. If the address is put in a certain way, where do I put it into our system? I don't think departments, people -- my girlfriend! -- quite understand. There's a lot of analysis. It's there for me and it's vetted and it seems easy, but there's still things I have to just know and do.
Wendy: I would say that I'm not here to just think about how I can make your life harder. We do things for a reason, and we need to protect where we are working. Some of the decisions that we make are not popular. It's not supposed to be what's popular, it's supposed to be what's right. Just because you want something doesn't mean I'm able to give. I need to do what's right, and not just because you want to do it.
|"If I ever wake up at two in the morning and have any issues it's going to be making sure that payments are secure. Are we getting them out there right? Did we do it right?" - Wendy Grayauskie, Villanova University
Taylor: What keeps you up at night as it relates to your job?
Wendy: If I ever wake up at two in the morning and have any issues it's going to be making sure that payments are secure. Are we getting them out there right? Did we do it right? A few years ago we did have an attempted fraud of a very large amount of money, and so those kinds of things are always on my mind of making sure that Villanova's secure.
Miguel: I'd say what keeps me up is am I going to get in 10 vendors that I've got to get in. Am I going to have a bunch of emails from people saying, "Why isn't my vendor in yet? Where's my vendor? I want to hire this person, let me hire them." There's a lot of little fires that I'm putting out.
Taylor: I've got one final question. We have a Philadelphia native and a coastal Californian. What's better, the West Coast or the East Coast?
Wendy: Oh, come on. Seriously? We do have changing of the seasons which makes it absolutely beautiful. The first snowfall of the year you can't beat it. The fall leaves coming out. When you watch everything die, it gets upsetting. It's like we get to know that in the Spring you get to watch everything come back to life. It can be really cool to watch trees get buds and the dogwoods come out, so I win.
Miguel: I'm not ready to concede the victory yet, but if anyone would like to do maybe the best burrito versus the best cheesesteak, I don't know if there's a winner, but I will sacrifice my body to make that determination.
Wendy: We can make that work.
Miguel: Yeah, let's do it!
Listen to the full interview: PaymentWorks Presents Risky Business: Where's My Vendor?
Wendy Grayauskie is proud to have been at Villanova University for 30 years. She is the current Assistant Director of Procurement, and owns accounts payable disbursement and the procurement card and is charged with maintaining a pristine vendor master. She loves Philly and her foster dogs.
Miguel Silva is the Procurement Assistant and PaymentWorks Lead at California State University, Monterey Bay. Born and raised in San Juan Bautista, but now living in Marina, CA, Miguel spends most of his days playing music or preparing for trivia nights. A huge baseball fan, he will lose (what's left of) his hair watching Oakland Athletic games. Once they finally do him in, he will be survived by his three cats: Deuce, Zoey, and Giles.