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Tracy Howell: Helping people and having fun

Staff Sketch

Systems support analyst Tracy Howell manages W. P. Carey’s software purchases and makes sure that the software is available to the students and researchers that need it. 

Originally from New Jersey, Tracy received a B.S. in computer science from Wake Forest University, but wanted to set down roots some place warmer.

“My sister lived here in the Valley, so I thought I’d come check it out,” Tracy says. Although Tracy earned her degree in computer science, she didn’t necessarily want to be a coder or a programmer. “I feel like I’m more of a people person than your average programmer,” she says.

Tracy initially worked at the School of Community Resources and Development providing tech support, but has been a member of the W. P. Carey Technical Services team since 2007. She’s been such a resource that former colleagues continue to rely on her advice and knowledge.

“Even though it’s been several years since my office was stationed in the finance department, the finance and accounting faculty still come to me for technical help,” she says with a smile.

“We can’t have people Googling and solving their own problems,” she jokes. She appreciates the warm, collaborative environment at W. P. Carey.

One semester, she made it her mission to find dedicated space for a new financial research lab containing Bloomberg terminals.

“I’m really proud that I was able to work with [Director of Space Planning] Michael Nixon to find extra space in McCord for this lab. It’s a small way I was able to contribute to us being a world-class business institution,” says Tracy.

“We have a good culture here. We have fun, but we work hard. Amy and the rest of the leadership team have done a great job balancing a strong vision and values with a sense of community that radiates throughout the school,” she says. 

When she’s not busy installing, debugging, and testing software for staff and faculty, Tracy and her certified therapy cat, Roger, visit terminally ill patients for Hospice of the Valley.

Tracy recently celebrated 12 years at ASU and wouldn’t change a thing. “I see W. P. Carey continuing to be a cutting-edge business school well into the future,” she says.

Professional 

What do you like about your job?

The desktop support team is really funny and has a great sense of humor. And the free coffee. 

What have you learned on another job that you’ve applied at W. P. Carey School?

At one of my very first jobs, I worked for an email advertising agency for insurance professionals. You could say I was one of the very first innovators of spam. I learned to work with a lot of angry people. Now when someone loses their temper, I don’t let it get to me. 

What is one interesting or fun fact about your team/office?

Our department is not into computers in our personal lives. We always talk about retiring somewhere where computers don’t exist.

What’s your favorite W. P. Carey School event?

W. P. sCarey, of course! I’m not a big Halloween fan in general, but when we began celebrating it as team, it became really fun for me.

Where is your “never fail” lunch spot on or near campus and what’s your favorite menu item?

Get the soup at Engrained. Delicious! 

Personal 

If you could be in any other career, what would it be?

When I was young, before Expedia took over the travel business, I wanted to be a travel agent. I love venturing to new places far and near.

If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

I definitely want to visit Mexico sometime soon.

If you could have one super power, what would it be?

To be able to fly like Superman. It would be great to get around and not have to pay for parking. 

What movie can you watch over and over?

Legally Blonde. I find it an inspirational story.

What’s your hidden talent?

Doing standup comedy.

Preferences 

  • Salty or sweet? Salty
  • Coffee or tea? Coffee
  • Soda or energy drink? Energy drink
  • Cat or dog? Both, but I live with 3 cats right now: Roger, Haru, and Mr. Pokey
  • Truck or car? Cars
  • Board games or video games? Neither
  • Fiction or non-fiction? Non-fiction
  • Facebook or face-to-face? Both
  • Breakfast or lunch? Lunch
  • Morning person or night owl? Morning