By Adam King
Ling Ling Sun understood what television was, but growing up in Harbin, China, she never saw a television set or TV program until she visited a relative in Beijing.
She was 18 years old.
Today, she is one of the rare women to reach chief engineer at a television station — WOSU TV promoted her in July 2011 — and she is the only female chief engineer in the Public Broadcasting System.
Sun is constantly lauded for her technical skills and ability to deliver innovative ideas, but that’s merely an offshoot of her nature, which includes a desire to constantly challenge and improve herself.
With that in mind, she applied for and was awarded earlier this month a Staff Manager Development Grant from the Office of Human Resources. She received $750 to cover the costs of two John Glenn School of Public Affairs Management Advancement for the Public Service seminars on supervision/leadership skills and managing a budget.
Sun was recently unanimously elected chair of the Public Broadcasting Service Engineering Technology Advisory Committee. ETAC develops and implements information management and technical operations strategies for all 176 PBS stations nationwide. Sun hopes the new skills she acquires will help in that role as well as her everyday endeavors.
“To keep myself current on both the technical and managerial front, I need continued education and training,” Sun said. “I plan to apply for such grants for a continued series of educational opportunities to improve myself so I can be ready for more challenges ahead of me.”
Ohio State has a goal to become one of the top employers in the nation, and giving staff opportunities to develop their careers is a key marker for those elite companies. This year, the university used funds from the lease of its parking operation to increase its Staff Career Development Grants to $75,000 and earmark another $75,000 to establish a new Manager Career Development Grant program. Ohio State expanded the programs based on a recommendation from the University Staff Advisory Committee, which conducted focus groups to determine what staff most wanted to see improved. Personal career development and having managers with improved skillsets topped the list.
In this first round of funding, the Office of Human Resources awarded 92 grants (including 40 manager grants) to staff totaling $88,719. A second round of applications will be accepted starting in April. Both individuals (for up to $1,000) and groups (for up to $1,500) can apply.
Michele Bondurant, who runs the grant program, said in the past there wasn’t enough money — about $11,000 total for the year — to meet staff demand for the grants. This year that wasn’t an issue.
“I’m beaming because I’ve been able to send good news to every qualified applicant,” Bondurant said. “So many people at Ohio State want to do things both big and small to improve their careers, and the increased resources have been a boon.”
Sun didn’t know about the manager grants until Karen Olstad, WOSU’s chief operating officer, sent her the information.
“I do feel there are opportunities out there for women in this profession,” said Sun, who was promoted from maintenance supervisor after long-time chief engineer Tom Lahr retired. “Tom Rieland, WOSU’s GM, and Karen have been very supportive of me. I am very lucky to have people who recognize my talent and are willing to help me advance.”
For more information about the career development grants, visit hr.osu.edu/special or email firstname.lastname@example.org.