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Week of June 7, 2010

Triathlon skills help Web designer coordinate two-job schedule

After a 10-hour workday as applications programmer/analyst with Medical School Information Services, Vince Chmielewski puts in more time at his new startup business, VC Web Design.

Photo courtesy Vince Chmielewski.

That’s his schedule Monday through Thursday. Most Fridays through Sundays, he logs several more hours each day at the website design company.

He credits some of his ability to work so hard to his experience competing in triathlons. “To do triathlon training you have to handle long hours and you have to be a good scheduler,” Chmielewski says.

These days, the schedule also requires time for a new infant son, Maxwell, and his wife, Amanda, a physician’s assistant in the Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Chmielewski grew up in Monroe, where he was on the high school cross country, swimming and track teams. After graduation he joined the U.S. Navy and was stationed in Hawaii. “It was in Hawaii that I caught the triathlon bug. Hawaii is the birthplace of triathlon and it is incredibly popular there. I won my age group (15-19) in the first triathlon I entered. After that I was hooked,” he says. “I loved the competition and loved the mix of training required.”

Upon entering U-M as a student after his Navy service, Chmielewski studied computer science, joined the Cycling Team and got a work-study assignment to work with the Biomedical Research Core Facility database entry system.

“I rewrote that database, which eventually led to my full-time job,” he says. Chmielewski improved the way researchers and others were billed for chemicals by replacing a time-consuming data entry process with a speedier drop-down menu system. He was hired full time upon graduation in 2002.

In 2007 he took an online MBA course with the New York Institute of Technology, performing coursework during evenings. He says the work was similar to what he was learning at his U-M job. “I was always looking at trying to improve processes, especially when they don’t add value and don’t make sense.”

Now based on the fourth floor of the Argus Building west of downtown, Chmielewski works as a senior application developer for the Medical School administration. “We build Web applications, and set up websites for students, faculty and staff in different departments,” he says.

Chmielewski and a team of co-workers created a Web application to allow administrators accessing M-Dash to go to one page and see statistics for their department on revenue, patient satisfaction scores, available project funds and more.

“Before, administrators would ask numerous people for reports that would take weeks or months to compile, and usually by the time they got reports the data was stale,” Chmielewski says. The improved process won the first U-M Business Intelligence award, shared by Chmielewski and 21 co-workers.

The roots of his VC Web Design company, officially launched in January, also can be traced back to his undergraduate days, when he used his Web design training to improve websites for some university clubs and sport teams. Along the way, Chmielewski also learned salesmanship. He recalls the time he went to pay a local photography studio for photos. “I offered to work on the photographer’s website for some money off the pictures,” he recalls. “That was my first official client. He referred other people.”

Since filing papers in January to formally establish the side business, Chmielewski and his team of six moved into a downtown Ypsilanti space on Washington Street. Chmielewski says he expects the company to double its revenue this year.

“We also have recently begun working with a couple of high profile clients including one of the candidates for governor — I’m not allowed to say who,” he says. Chmielewski also appears on the WJR radio show “Internet Advisor.”


The weekly Spotlight features staff members at the university. To nominate a candidate, please contact the Record staff at urecord@umich.edu.

 

STAFF SPOTLIGHT

Vince Chmielewski, applications programmer/analyst, Medical School Information Systems, on applying triathlon training to his job responsibilities: “To do triathlon training you have to handle long hours and you have to be a good scheduler.”

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  • Shakespeare in the Arb 10th anniversary performances, 6:30 p.m. June 10–13, 17–20 and 24–27, Nichols Arboretum.

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