Member of the Week: Jeffrey Lewis - The Evolving Records Manager

By Bryant Duhon posted 07-16-2012 13:17


Jeffrey Lewis, a records analyst with the Food and Drug Administration, has recently taken the plunge and become an active participant in AIIM’s online community. His growing collection of blog posts provide a different take on records management than many others. As someone with a relatively new career; he has a solid grasp of how records management as a career is evolving.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge and expertise, Jeff.

Duhon: What do you do and how did you get there?

Lewis: I am a records analyst/subject matter expert for Zimmerman Associates Incorporated as a contractor for the Center For Biologics Evaluation and Research at the Food and Drug Administration.

How I landed in this position was a work of God. In mid-November 2010 I saw the position posted on dice.comand thought it looked like a great position to apply for. At the same time my wife and I were in the process of closing on our first home, packing, and getting ready to move. With everything going on I never had time to apply for the position. Around the Christmas holidays I received a phone call from the Deputy Project Manager informing me that he had seen my resume on Dice and wanted me to come in for an interview.
Before coming to the FDA I spent almost four years working as a content manager and requirements analyst for a private IT company that hosts online academic databases. Prior to that, I spent a year and a half working for a non-profit as the database/information manager. Currently I hold a graduate degree in library science from Indiana University. While pursuing my degree I took part in an independent studies class on implementation of a digital library and a separate independent readings course on long-term digital preservation.

Duhon: What was your best day at work? Worst?

Lewis: I have had good days at work and accomplished a decent amount even though I am still fairly young in my career, but I feel like the best is yet to come. I was honestly surprised to be picked for this because there are so many people in the AIIM community who have accomplishments and knowledge that I’d like to one day attain.
There was about a six-month period that I would consider all time tie-breakers for worst day at work. My first job after graduate school was with a government contractor as a processing archivist. At this point I was desperate for a job. Even though it wasn’t exactly what I wanted I took it. During the interview process I told them I wasn’t sure if I was a good fit for the position, but they reassured me that I was. After the six-month probation period we both agreed that it wasn’t the job for me. The biggest lesson I learned through this is to trust my instincts and not settle for just any job offer.

Duhon: What are you proudest of?

Lewis: For a lot of people who look at my resume, what might stick out to them as my proudest accomplishment is my work on editing and publishing the CBER Comprehensive File Plan. Don’t get me wrong, that was a big accomplishment, but I compare it to running my first marathon. I completed my first marathon, but didn’t run it in a great time and am looking forward to marathon #2 with an improved time. I learned a lot in writing the file plan, but I anticipate that file plan #2 will have major improvements.
What’d I’d hang my hate on today is my work with policy development at CBER. I’ve been writing articles to train CBER staff on managing their own records. Many of these articles are policy-related for topics that haven’t had official policy before such as records created on PDAs, transferring custody of records, and email management.

Duhon: What is your No. 1. goal today—and what is your greatest content-related challenge?

Lewis: My number one goal is to sell the importance of records management to CBER staff. We are counting on each office and division to manage their own records and my team’s job is to give them the training and tools they need. This is a dramatic culture change as most CBER staff is of the mindset of wanting to keep everything, even if it is only reference or convenience copies that they are not the office of record for and do not need for their daily business process.

My greatest content-related challenge is staying on top of the new formats that electronic records are created in. For example, CBER has several laboratories and they are currently working on digitizing lab notebooks. The natural progression from there is to start using Electronic Lab Notebooks, but with ELN being such a new format, it is hard to specify what the record keeping requirements are for them.

Duhon: You’re in the process of studying to become a Certified Information Professional (CIP); what’s your view of this new certification from AIIM?

Lewis: This certification is great for a person, like me, whose experience covers a broad array of topics. It helps to formalize my knowledge of areas that I’ve worked in and confirms best practices. For someone who has been somewhat of a journeyman and not really settled down in one area it helps to validate all of the moves that I have made and shows the interconnectedness of the information management profession since it covers so many diverse areas.

Duhon: How does the CIP fit into your career as a records manager?

Lewis: The career “records managers,” in my view, will slowly be phased out and make way for a new career path for “information governance officers.” This path will be a convergence of IT skills and records management skills as IT tools such as SharePoint, Documentum, etc. will be used to manage records. Also the capture of records will be done in more diverse ways such as mobile capture. The CIP will help me to stay abreast of IT changes so I can stay current in emerging areas in which records are being created, captured, and preserved. Also, records departments will have to work more and more with IT and the CIP will help me to build a bridge to the world of IT.

Duhon: Why do you consider yourself an information professional?

Lewis: When I tell people that I have a graduate degree in library science they often respond with something like, “What is that? I always associate it with shelving and checking out books.” In my five second elevator speech I explain that library science is the organization, dissemination, and preservation of information. One of the ways I market myself is as a person whose primary experience is that of information manager as I have managed database tools, content analysis, and federal records.

Just for fun:
Duhon: What are your three favorite websites?


Duhon: What are the three greatest books ever written—and what’s on your nightstand today?

Lewis: Bible (English Standard Version)
Les Mis by Victor Hugo
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
On my night stand right now is my Kindle and the latest issue of Running Times. Currently on my Kindle I am reading in the Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham, it is the true story of a missionary couple that was taken hostage in the Philippines; and a New York Time bestseller.

Duhon: What are the three greatest movies of all time—and what’s the last one you’ve seen?

Lewis: Field of Dreams
Baseball by Ken Burns
Life Is Beautiful
The last movie I saw was Hunger Games

Duhon: What was your first concert—and what are the three greatest songs on your iPod?

Lewis: First concert I went to was Stomp. I’ve actually seen them two or three times in person.

Top three greatest songs on my iPod (this is such a relative question)

  1. All Along The Watchtower by Jimi Hendrix
  2. Sinister Minister by Bela Fleck and the Flecktones
  3. Love Through Me by Jenny and Tyler


#ElectronicRecordsManagement #InformationGovernance #ScanningandCapture