Editor’s Note: We're searching for the best and brightest admin professionals and workplace operators in the US. Know an outstanding Ninja? Nominations for the 2020 All-Star Awards are now open!
Today’s OfficeNinjas All-Star Award is presented by Delta Air Lines!
As one of the world’s largest airlines, Delta Air Lines is the ambassador of painless business travel. You can track flights using the Fly Delta app, earn points for the team through SkyBonus, stay connected on their WiFi-enabled planes, and so much more. With over 322 destinations on six continents, Delta will get you, your boss, or your colleagues wherever you need to be. Delta is regarded as one of the most on-time airlines, and their advanced baggage-tracking technology means you won’t be leading the big meeting in yesterday’s suit.
Name: Jaime Caban
Title & Company: Workplace Manager, StreamSets
Location: San Francisco, CA
# Years as an Office Ninja: 10
Fun Fact: Hosts an annual, office-wide Oscars prediction contest
Fun. Welcoming. Committed. Critical to the office. The “Chief Efficiency Officer.”
These are just a few ways Jaime Caban’s colleagues described him in his 31 All-Star nominations. Yes, you read that right—Jaime received more than 30 nominations from the engineers, technical writers, and executives at the San Francisco-based software company StreamSets—and he deserves every single one of ‘em.
While the sheer volume of nominations is impressive, the content of those nominations is what really caught our attention at OfficeNinjas HQ. It’s clear that Jaime’s an invaluable part of the StreamSets team.
All the ways in which Jaime goes beyond the call of duty—working on Saturdays, accommodating food requests, tackling projects like DIY soundproofing and organizing trade shows—do not go unnoticed. From the top down, Jaime’s colleagues all agree that he’s an undeniable All-Star. Here’s what StreamSets’ VP of Marketing had to say:
“In my 30 years in the working world, I’ve never met anyone who took on the Office Manager role with such passion. He is in the office six days a week. Examples of things he’s taken care of that usually would be considered “too much trouble” or “not my job” include branding the office walls with our mission statement and values, organizing numerous events—including birthdays, seasonal activities, monthly happy hours, and employee of the month awards—ensuring every detail is handled; and going above and beyond without being asked. For example, he came up with a way to roll (instead of fold) and color code hundreds of t-shirts in order to make our lives easier at trade shows.” – Rick, VP of Marketing
Beyond efficiency, Jaime values culture and makes extra effort to ensure that all employees, new and veteran alike, feel welcome and equipped for success. One co-worker even credits Jaime as a motivating factor in finally signing their offer letter:
“While Jaime truly is responsible for everything that keeps our office running, I particularly appreciate how welcome he makes new employees feel. Along with the typical seating chart and packet of resources, he puts every new hire’s name on a whiteboard and encourages every other employee to sign around it to make them feel like they picked a supportive and friendly place to work. I worked at a different, larger company with Jaime two years back. Finding out that he joined the startup I’m at now was serious motivation to sign my offer letter. He’s that critical to the office.” – Dima, Software Engineer
And, of course, Jaime has that special streak of superhero that all true Office Ninjas possess. Here’s just one example of how he has saved the day:
“Last week I got stranded without a hotel in San Francisco, due to a mistake by our travel agency. All hotels were fully booked because of a large conference. The travel agency was not really helping sort out the situation. Within 10 minutes of informing Jaime about this, I got a call from the travel agency, and I had a room at a five-star hotel five minutes after that.” – Alejandro, Software Developer
Consider us completely impressed! Let’s get to know this OfficeNinjas All-Star with a little Q&A.
OfficeNinjas: What’s your favorite part of being an Office Ninja?
Jaime Caban: Helping engineers and, in turn, our company be a success. No matter what accolades the company receives, I know that I played a part in supporting that recognition.
ON: What are some of the stranger experiences you’ve had as an Office Ninja?
JC: At a previous job, I was in charge of shipping and receiving. I once received a surfboard, and another time I received an entire golf club set one piece/box at a time. At StreamSets, I had to throw reporters out of our office because they wanted to meet our newly famous neighbor, Pokémon Go.
ON: What’s the one thing that’s always on your desk?
JC: A spiral pad for taking notes. I use the check-box method; each entry gets a check box, and I can’t turn the page until all boxes are checked. I’ve tried to go electronic several times but always go back to paper.
ON: What do you do when you’re stressed at work?
JC: Stress is usually caused by too much work, so I try to prioritize my workload. Picking off the easy items will give some sense of accomplishment, so I hit those first so I feel like I’m making progress. If I really need to de-stress, I have to admit I hit Facebook and check out my family’s postings, which always makes me happy. It also reminds me of what is really important in life. Work tasks are just that—work, but family is most important.
ON: You’ve conducted employee polls. What did you learn, and how did you implement change?
JC: As many people as you ask is equal to the number of different answers you will receive! Polls are like any other survey—minimal participation is expected, but any participation can lead to meaningful dialog if used as a tool to implement change. As far as implementing change, I’ve learned to just do it. You’re never going to please 100% of the people all of the time. So just go with your instincts. Do what you know works best, and if the change is a complete disaster, you can always go back to the way it was or try something different.
ON: How do you see the admin profession evolving? What do you do to stay ahead of the curve?
JC: I see the profession evolving with the availability of more third-party services/software to manage various tasks. Software like Trello, ZenDesk, RightInBox, and Google apps helps us work efficiently and effectively. People are often amazed at how I’m able to remember so many details, and the secret is, I’m not! I just know how to use the tools available to me. To stay ahead of the curve, I stay involved with my peers. I’ve been connected to various professional groups throughout my career. This is the best way to stay in the loop by connecting with peers in the same industry.
ON: What is your greatest professional achievement at StreamSets?
JC: I started in November 2015, and our CEO said he received so many positive comments that he had to invent a monthly Above & Beyond award program, and I was the first recipient! With this early acknowledgement, our company Above & Beyond recognition program was born—with each winner receiving a bobblehead of themselves.
ON: What are you most proud of outside of work?
JC: My volunteer work in the San Francisco community and with various administrative professional groups makes me pretty proud. My long-lasting connections from previous companies let me know that I’m not just another employee who left and was never heard from again. I work hard to maintain important connections which then grow into friendships. I’m also proud of my marriage; my husband and I have been together for 21 years and together we take pride in our philanthropic support of several performing arts organizations in the city.
ON: What are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
JC: Awareness, awareness, and awareness. Be aware of the office environment. Is it welcoming? Is it clean? Does it have what’s needed to run a business? Be aware of your team’s needs. Do they have furniture they need to do their jobs? Do they have supplies for any situation that comes up? And of course, do they have a balance of (healthy & not-so-healthy but yummy) snacks and drinks in the kitchen? Finally, be aware of future needs of the company. Is growth happening? How soon? Don’t wait to be surprised by new developments. Stay in sync with management because as the Office Ninja you are part of management whether you know it or not.
ON: What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career?
JC: Leaving a job and company I loved because my manager wasn’t allowing me to grow in my field. Within the first month at my next new job, I already had more responsibility and started more initiatives than I had in all the three years prior. I attribute my instincts to the proverbial “voice in your head” —listen to that voice, it’s rarely wrong. It’s there to guide you on your path.
ON: Office Ninjas often have tips and tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
JC: Use humor to get a point across (e.g., a funny picture or a sign to encourage co-workers to put dishes into the dishwasher).
Treat your vendors like partners because that’s what they are. If you encourage their success, they will, in turn, make you look good by doing their best for you. Even if a relationship sours, keep the dialog friendly and professional because you never know when that person you called a bozo will be working at the next vendor you choose. Also, vendors talk amongst themselves, and you don’t want to get a reputation for being a difficult client.
Don’t be afraid to say “no.” Take care of your boundaries, and you’ll gain more respect than if you take on too much work and fail. You may mean well by saying “yes” to every project thrown your way, but you will only exhaust yourself if you take on too much, or take on jobs outside your wheelhouse. For example, I’m not IT-oriented, and I’m not afraid to say so. Not every Ninja has every superpower known to man.
Wise, wise words, Jaime!
As part of his prize, Jaime is receiving $1,000 worth of travel from Delta Air Lines! You could also win credit toward your next trip with today’s Flash Raffle.
To view the complete album from our photo shoot at StreamSets with Jaime, click here.
All on-site photography of our featured Ninja and his workplace is courtesy of Oh Snap! Visuals. Oh Snap! is OfficeNinjas’ go-to photography company for headshots and events. They travel nationally, produce stunning photographs, and are a dream to work with!