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Staff Snapshot: Andenet Emiru, staff advisor designate to the Regents

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Andenet with his wife, Woubejig, daughter, Solie, and son, Annu.

“I’m not here by chance,” says Andenet Emiru, staff advisor designate to the Regents. “I’ve had so many mentors and people who made sacrifices to help me get where I am. I feel a real responsibility to pay it forward.”

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Indeed, Andenet’s journey to the University of California has spanned a significant geographical distance — from his childhood in Ethiopia to his young adulthood in Minnesota to Sacramento, California, where he is currently the director of external partnerships & projects at UC Health’s Center for Data-driven Insights and Innovation (CDI2).

Still, his values haven’t strayed from those he learned as a child, as the son of two hardworking parents whose journeys inspired his own.

While raising her six children in Ethiopia, Andenet’s mother served two decades as a maternity nurse in a community clinic. Despite her own significant responsibilities, she made time for house calls to sick neighbors and believed it was her duty to give back. “My mother truly lived the saying, ‘It takes a village,’” says Andenet.

When Andenet’s parents emigrated to Minneapolis in search of a better life for their children, his mother traded her beloved career for a job on a hotel cleaning staff. On her days off, she studied for the nursing board exam. His father, who had enjoyed a thriving journalism career in Ethiopia, began doing factory work. Reflecting on his parents’ experiences, Andenet marvels, “I don’t know how they managed, waking up at 5 a.m. and returning home at 11 p.m. But now I see what my siblings and I have been able to achieve because of their sacrifices.” 

One of Andenet’s key goals for his term as staff advisor to the Regents is to advance President Drake’s vision of UC as an employer of choice with an inclusive and accountable workplace. “Work is such a substantial part of our lives, whether we’re 100% virtual, hybrid or in-person,” Andenet says. “Our goal should be to create an environment where people feel welcome and enjoy what they do. If you feel good about your work life, it positively affects your emotional and physical health.”

Andenet believes it is important to use this opportunity as a staff leader to advocate for changes that will benefit colleagues at every level, today and in the future. This all ties back to a core tenet he learned from his parents, that every commitment — whether leading others, parenting or simply being a good friend — is an opportunity to make a difference. “You can’t know the magnitude of the impact you’ll make,” he observes, “but you wake up every morning and do the work.”

Meet Andenet

Name: Andenet Emiru

Title: Director of External Partnerships and Projects

Department/Unit: UC Health’s Center for Data-driven Insights and Innovation (CDI2)

Location: UC Office of the President

When did you start working for UC? August 2015

Describe what you do at UC in five words or less: Transform patients’ lives through data.

Why do you love working for UC? We have an extraordinary opportunity to make an impact. There isn’t anything that UC isn’t involved in — health care, education, sustainability. Whatever our interests, we can pursue them at UC.

What’s something people don’t know about you? I have an identical twin brother who can unlock my iPhone with Face ID!

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King. It’s amazing to me that, despite how much hardship they endured, they still pursued peaceful avenues to make a difference. I think about how divided we are. I’d love to learn from them how to sit across the table from people and connect to make things better, no matter our differences.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? It can be so impactful to take yourself out of your current day job, even for a very small percentage of your time. Interacting with people outside your immediate work circle is a huge learning opportunity. You gift your perspective to others and get the same in return. I would say that almost 100% of the time I have done this, it’s yielded a new opportunity.

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