Kathryn E. Helfer

Kathryn E. Helfer.

Published June 3, 2020

Each month, we'll introduce you to an interesting member of the Professional Staff Senate. This month's featured member is Kathryn Helfer, Finance and Operations Manager for Business and Entrepreneur Partnerships.

How long have you worked at UB?


I have worked at UB for eight and a half years in the Office of Business & Entrepreneur Partnerships (BEP). I am currently the Finance & Operations Manager and my department is located on the downtown campus in the NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

The most fulfilling part of my job is the relationship with my colleagues. We not only work hard but we have fun too. I am really fortunate that I have colleagues who have now become some of my best friends.

What is the most difficult part about your job?

The most difficult part of my job is balancing the needs of a diverse group of people that includes researchers, startups, colleagues and industry partners - all of whom have shifting priorities and competing deadlines.

What would you say is your biggest achievement at UB?

My biggest achievement at UB is being selected to help lead the implementation of the $32M Innovation Hub award that we received from NYS. I am leading the team to convert part of our building into an incubator for startups. Incubators provide not only space but also support and programming to startups to help them grow. This project is exciting because it has a tangible effect on the university and an economic impact on the WNY community.

Tell us something about your department that isn’t well known.

Most people think of UB as a traditional academic institution but in my department, we connect the university faculty and staff with industry partners to facilitate economic development. We achieve this by providing access to state of the art facilities and scientific equipment, internship opportunities, funding, incubator space and so much more.

If you were to share some advice for other professional staff, what would it be?

My advice would be try to focus on the positives in life when work gets stressful and hectic. If you find yourself dealing with difficult people or having hard conversations, take a step back and make sure everyone is working towards the same goal. It usually helps to reset the conversation. Also, work-life balance is really important and it is critical to take some time for self-care during the workday. Take a walk, read a book at lunch, laugh with colleagues, these are small, easy tasks to achieve but they help so much in the long run.

Do you have any hobbies? What do you do for fun?

My hobbies are cooking, playing board games and cards, working out and spending time with my family.

Do you have a favorite meal you like to prepare?

I recently started to cook with my colleague over zoom; she has been teaching me how to cook southern Indian dishes! I love to cook Rasamand Kerala Chicken Stew. My goal is to perfect them by the time this pandemic is over so it seems I will have the time to achieve that!

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Australia. I want to see the Great Barrier Reef!

Any other fun facts about you?

Most people don’t know this about me, but I am very competitive! You definitely want me on your team for any type of board game!