“Coming Home to a Liberal Arts Environment”: An Interview with Donna Ng
With an extensive background working in finance at multiple colleges, Donna Ng was a no brainer for her new position at Skidmore College. As of Oct. 1, Ng has officially taken on her role as the school’s Vice President for Finance and Administration and Treasurer at Skidmore College. Transitioning into Skidmore has been a smooth process for her, and she described the environment and people at Skidmore as being “warm and welcoming.” On a crisp Tuesday afternoon, Skidmore News and Ng sat down to discuss her career and journey to Skidmore.
Can you tell me about your background?
I moved from Hong Kong to Boston when I was young with my parents and three siblings. I’m the first from my family to go to college. When I graduated from high school, I knew I wanted to go to the business school in Boston College.
What inspired you to study business and accounting in college?
I had a work-study job at Boston College working in the controller's office responsible for financial services. As a result of that, I knew upperclassmen who were accounting majors. [They] encouraged me to go into business and accounting. When I took my business courses, accounting was one of the ones that I did really well in, and I kind of had a knack for it. So that’s how it happened. It kind of came about from a little bit of a chance—a good chance.
What or who influenced you to come to Skidmore?
What inspired me to come to Skidmore was the feeling of coming home to a liberal arts environment; it’s a small community, and you cannot really get that same feel and sense of community elsewhere.
What does your job entail?
I oversee financial and administrative areas such as to accounting, budgeting, human resources, facilities, information technology, campus safety, purchasing, student accounts and dining services for the college. But keep in mind that in all of those areas, I have a solid team. I have directors in each of those areas who really manage the day-to-day operations.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Some days, I concentrate on facility matters such as the construction of the Center for Integrated Sciences, sometimes on budget matters, and sometimes on technology. I touch on a little bit of everything during the week. I have weekly meetings with my staff. Once a week, I also meet with the President’s cabinet—which consists of all the vice presidents who report to the President. That’s part of my job: to collaborate and work with the other vice presidents. You can just imagine what is needed at a college—we all have to work together.
What changes have you implemented since arriving at Skidmore and what are you working towards changing?
The foundation for the finance and administration area is strong. I mentioned my team, they are very strong, everyone is working very hard so it’s a solid core group of folks. But an area for improvement may be implementing a business workflow system for operating efficiency. There are many transactions that we could use a system to automate. The system doesn’t replace the human, the system just makes it easier for the human to process that transaction.
How has your transition been so far and what are you looking forward to?
It’s been really wonderful! I just met with the Board of Trustees last week, and they’re all really great. What I see throughout Skidmore is that people care about Skidmore. My colleagues, the other vice presidents, have all been very warm and welcoming. I’m getting a lot of support from good people and learning about Skidmore, so we can move forward with some of the improvements for the College. I think the Center of Integrated Sciences is a very exciting project, and I’m looking forward to working on that.
What are some of your hobbies?
I really like to be active. I joined a local Y[MCA] here, and some of the classes I really like are Zumba and something new called ‘Bokwa.’
What is your all-time favorite film?
I’ve always been a big fan of Star Wars right from the beginning to the more recent ones.
What is your favorite book?
I’m a little embarrassed to say this but I love Nicholas Sparks. His books can make you cry, and I really like The Notebook and Nights of Rodanthe. His books are a nice easy read—enjoyable, and it takes you away.
Do you have any hidden talents?
I’m a pretty good cook. I make all kinds of dishes—Chinese, Italian, American. But I would say that I make the best gravy ever, and I have a secret to my gravy.
What is something about yourself that you want students to know?
I want students to know that I really enjoy being a mentor and talking to students about their aspirations. Anyone who wants to talk about business with me, I’m all for it. I’m also here for assistance, especially for first-generation students.