Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Bharath Prabhakaran, UNT System

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Faculty & Staff Spotlight: Bharath Prabhakaran, UNT System

Bharath Prabhakaran is definitely human, even if it seems like he's a supercomputer. The latter would suggest he lacks emotion and anyone who knows Bharath knows he's one of the kindest souls on the planet. Without getting too technical, Bharath serves the faculty, staff and students across the UNT System by providing enterprise services that ensure students can register, pay their fees and go through their academic lifecycle; that faculty and staff get paid and their HR and employment data is available; and that business partners can implement and support their business processes that run UNT System, plus much more. A self-confessed techo-nerd even before acquiring his first Commodore 64, Bharath is full of surprises, from his specialty diet to his prodigious running career to how Ruby turned this proud husband and dad's marathon stride into a walk in the park.


What is your favorite aspect about your job?
I would say the opportunity to straddle business and technology by working with our business partners to understand their needs, and then providing technology solutions to solve their problems. I have also spent a majority of my career in the private sector, and made the conscious move to higher education in order to have a higher purpose (than the company bottom line), and that is to serve students and enable them to fulfill their potential.

What inspired you to pursue your field of expertise?
I have always been fascinated by math and science and was quite the nerd through school years (and am still one). When I was in middle school, my father got me a Commodore 64 computer (to play video games mainly) but that got me interested in the workings of computers and I started programming in BASIC (and then Pascal, Fortran, C, etc.) and was hooked. I pursued computer science through high school and then got an undergraduate degree in Engineering with a major in Computer Science, and eventually a master's degree in Computer Science. I entered the IT industry after my master's and have been there ever since for over 25 years now.

What is your proudest work moment?
There are many, but at UNT System, these come to mind (all accomplished while serving my wonderful Enterprise Applications teams):

  • Working with the UNT Financial Aid office to completely rework their process recently, and have the systems support the disbursement of over $100 million in financial aid, with award notifications going out for the first time by Dec 15, 2021
  • Working with our HR partners to streamline and implement a new employee onboarding experience, delivered in record time
  • Providing critical document and content management services to over 50 departments across the UNT System
  • Working with our VPs of Research (across all three campuses) and their offices to implement the Huron Research Suite (ongoing multi-module effort) to help streamline and transform the Research Administration function across the UNT System
  • Working with our Finance and Procurement offices to implement new technology solutions to automate processes and create efficiencies 

What is your proudest non-work moment?
Again, there are many, but most of them center around my family and two kids:

  • When my daughter (high school senior) was selected for (and performed at) the Texas All-State Choir (from over 10,000 students who started the audition process through multiple rounds) and placed second chair for her voice part
  • When my son (high school freshman) made his high school golf team, and is currently representing them proudly

Is there a hobby, activity or something else you have done during the pandemic that you would not have done normally?
I have taken up reading a lot more (to make up for many years when this was neglected). But the biggest activity would probably be our new puppy, Ruby (a 1 1/2-year-old Golden Retriever mix) who we adopted from a fostering program. We got her in April 2020, and she has been the center of attention, while completely upending all of our schedules. This was accomplished after almost 10 years of my kids begging my wife for a dog, and she being resolute in her refusal (and finally giving in after my daughter persuaded her to allow this as she was going to college next year).

What is a fact about you that may surprise your work colleagues?
That I am a vegan and long-distance (marathon) runner. I have run 16 full and 40 half marathons in various states in the U.S. (including the Dallas marathon). With getting the dog, I have transitioned to a whole lot of walking (as we all know, the kids promise the moon to get a dog, but the parents end up doing all the work), and this has worked out fine as running gets harder with age (the mind is willing; the body, not so much).

Book?: Gandhi -- An Autobiography: My Experiments with TruthThe 21 Irrefutable laws of Leadership by John Maxwell; Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela. My favorite is a toss-up between the Mandela and Gandhi autobiography. Both great men and amazing leaders who fought and sacrificed for causes they believed in (ending Apartheid; and the freedom struggle for India), and achieved their outcomes through influence, and while pursuing and advocating non-violence.
Movie?: The Usual Suspects will have to be at the top. The original "twist ending" that left me with my mouth agape.
Place to visit?: Hawaii -- Beautiful nature and beaches, warm weather and water, friendly island folks, amazing music and food -- need I say more?
Charitable cause?: Asha for Education. A nonprofit that raises funds to support the education of underprivileged children. Also has a marathon training program called Team Asha, and I am a successful graduate of that (when I ran my first marathon). I have also served as a coach to get over 1,000 runners from couch-potato to marathon finisher.