Naomi Quiram: A People Person at Heart
If you ask Naomi Quiram what her legacy will be, she hopes people will remember that she cared about them. After all, the director of Print and Mail Services at Gustavus Adolphus University in St. Peter, Minn., is a people person at heart. So much so, in fact, that when she graduated from Gustavus in 1978, it was with a degree in sociology and a job in the juvenile justice system.
Back in the ’70s, printing was certainly not the career Quiram would have expected herself to end up in.
“I definitely would have said something with people,” she speculates. “Maybe more in the counseling area.”
Fueled by this passion, Quiram worked in group homes for five years after graduation, then transitioned into the federal legal services program as a legal assistant, where she spent more than a decade.
Her desire to work with people and be a mentor eventually led her back to Gustavus in 1998. That was the year Minnesota was hit by devastating tornadoes that left the campus with significant damage. She took a position with the university as the judicial coordinator, part of the Student Affairs division. In this role, she helped inspect residence halls and monitor access to campus.
Shortly after returning to Gustavus to work with students during the recovery, Quiram was asked to run the school’s mail program.
“I remember talking with the VP,” she recalls. “I’m sure I looked at him like, ‘I have no knowledge of mail. Are you crazy?’”
But it was Quiram’s innate skills that led the VP to believe she would be the perfect fit for the job.
“He said, ‘Well, what we’re looking for is somebody with organizational skills, somebody with people skills, somebody who can take this to the next level,’” she explains.
After much thought, she decided to take the position, but continued to work with the students while running the mail program, a feat that she describes as “rosy eyed.” When she finally transitioned over to working in the mail program full time, she began to centralize the equipment to process jobs at a higher volume and bring in outside work.
Two Departments Merged
Six years ago, the university’s administration decided to merge the print and mail departments, and placed Quiram in the director’s role. In just six short years, Quiram says there have been a number of significant changes.
“We now use Web-to-print,” she says. “What that does is put the responsibility for the piece on the sender instead of the person processing the project. It allows us to use the student [employees] much more than we ever have been able to in the past. It also required us to look at quality control.”
Members of the permanent staff act as oversight for all the jobs produced by students, which increases the quality of jobs and serves as an educational experience for the 55 student employees.
In 2012, after advocating for all school printing to be centralized in one department, Quiram was able to bring wide-format printing into her operation from the Media Services department, which had been handling it. She then expanded that service from just posters into outdoor signage.
Print and Mail Services also runs a managed print program across campus, which was launched in 2013 and includes 46 MFPs.
Quiram has also added variable data printing capabilities, which has improved the quality of mailings.
“The pieces are crisper,” she says. “The address quality meets postal standards and reduces the number of touches by print staff. That has been a real efficiency and improvement in quality.”
An improvement Quiram is particularly proud of is the level of automation that has been implemented in printing and mailing on campus.
“Automation is what is making us most successful,” she says, “but automation is one of those things that people fear and fight the most.”
When students or faculty and staff resist automation and change, Quiram says it’s just a matter of making sure everyone is informed and then providing solutions to overcome any resistance.
“When we started the managed print program, you had to have your IDs to make copies,” she explains. “For employees who had been here a long time, that wasn’t well-received. I tried to offer wrist holders to put their cards on or a lanyard. None of that worked. Then, our partner in the managed print program provided me with a little card [holder] for the back of cellphones.”
Quiram presented the cellphone ID holder at a meeting and it was a hit.
Though her position with Gustavus is a far cry from where she began her career, Quiram has carried her love of working with people and building relationships to Print and Mail Services.
“My philosophy is to have fun at work no matter how routine, how boring or how stressful the thing is that you’re working on,” she says.
She works with her student employees, serving as a mentor, helping with time management and guiding them to the resources they need to be successful.
She has also remained involved on campus, in the community and with organizations in the industry. At one time, Quiram advised a program called Colleges Against Cancer, which held a Relay for Life on campus every year. She is also involved in a number of associations, including the Association of College and University Printers (ACUP), the National Association of College and University Mailers (NACUMS), the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association (IPMA) and the South Central Minnesota Postal Customer Council, of which she was one of the founding members for Minnesota.
Under her direction, the in-plant has won several ACUP Awards in recent years for print quality, and in 2017 it earned ACUP’s Distinctive Service award.
Outside of work, Quiram is married and has two children. Although her daughter went a completely different path than Quiram — she has her PhD and works for the Department of Natural Resources — her son has also made a career in mailing, as a clerk for the United States Postal Service.
Quiram loves to spend time outdoors and with her family, camping, fishing and traveling, especially to Albuquerque, N.M.
“My husband and I really like ‘Breaking Bad,’” she says. “We went to the laundry and the hot dog stand. It was fabulous.”
Related story: Digital Press Slashes Overtime at Gustavus Adolphus