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Patricia (Patty) Smith
Patty Smith, building attendant leader for Custodial Services, is passionate about making a difference at work and in her personal life. A self-described “people person,” she enjoys meeting and working with the variety of people she serves and supervises.
She is committed to keeping her cleaning team trained and educated with the latest information on OS1 cleaning practices (the cleaning for health system used by Custodial Services) and university policy. “You will not find a better trained or more motivated cleaning team at UT Austin,” she says. “We work together solving problems, troubleshooting issues, and coming up with solutions in a timely manner.”
Patty says, “I like my employees to think and to participate in setting goals.” That attitude not only makes her team great at cleaning, but has also given them the team spirit to earn Custodial Olympics, chili cook-off and bake-off honors.
Problem-solving comes naturally to Patty. “I’m a perfectionist,” she admits. “I pay attention to all the details and like to be sure that everything is just right.” Whether working with her team or on her own, she explores solutions and keeps an open mind about what will work best. She is motivated not only by the desire to do a good job, but also by enjoyment of the challenges in managing projects and teams to achieve the best possible results.
Patty approaches her personal life with the same commitment to making a difference that she brings to the workplace. In her family, she is the youngest of four children and the first in her generation to earn a college degree. In fact, she earned two degrees! From her family, she learned not to waste time feeling sorry for herself because others often have it worse. “When I was a kid, we lived on the border and my parents sponsored kids [through Shriners] who had suffered burns and polio.” Later, with a degree in social work, she obtained state employment that allowed her to create and promote social programs such as a program for small communities to work together to obtain electricity. Most fun was a literacy program in Mexicali, Baja California, in which she personally taught the ABCs to a mariachi band!
She enjoys traveling in her free time, taking long car trips with her family in which they listen to audio books. Having taken photography courses at Austin Community College, she enjoys shooting commercial and architectural photos and has had her work displayed in ACC shows. Her interests also include keeping up with medical research, particularly into preventive health.
An Austin resident for 17 years, Patty will soon enter her third year at the university. She came to Facilities Services after supervising 60 employees in a large, corporate cleaning company. Her advice to new employees: “If you always do your best, you are going to excel. Don’t be afraid to ask questions—this is how we learn.”
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