Staff Spotlight: 20 Questions in 2 Minutes with Matt Cowan
20 Questions in 2 Minutes is our series in which we interview Management Council staff members. This week’s guest is Matt Cowan, PEBT Customer Service Association, with the Customer Services and Support team.
- What kind of music do you like?
I listen to a wide variety of music. Anything from alternative and classic rock to jazz and the symphony.
- What’s the best book you’ve read recently?
The best book I re-read recently was probably Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
- What’s something you’re proud of?
I do a lot of fundraising for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society through bicycling. My mom was diagnosed with MS, so I ride for her and everyone living with this terrible disease. Unfortunately, I’ve had a few bike accidents (broken elbow and nose) over the years. Even though I had these injuries, I have managed to recuperate to get back on the bike and continue the mission of funding research to find a cure.
- Are you a morning lark or a night owl?
I am definitely a night owl.
- What’s one thing you’re really good at?
I think that my critical thinking is something I’m good at. I have a knack for analyzing situations and knowing how to quickly respond. Before working here, I was a disability representative for the disabled. I would go in front of federal judges to argue cases—cross-examine medical doctors and other expert witnesses, all while advocating for my clients—so critical thinking was very important.
- What’s a skill you’d like to improve on?
Probably patience. I tend to want things done quickly. I’m a lot better now than I used to be, but it’s still a work in progress.
- What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received?
After any successful disability hearing, it was getting a hug from my client. That was always the best.
- What’s your least favorite chore around the house?
Probably folding laundry. My wife is back in Texas right now, so I keep looking at clothes in the laundry room. That seems to be a good place for them.
- What’s your favorite season?
Only having recently moved to Ohio from south Texas, I’ve yet to experience all four seasons. In San Antonio, we only had summer heat interrupted by a few days of winter. But my favorite time of the year is the Fall. I love college football, fall festivals, and Thanksgiving.
- When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?
Right now, I tend to be focused on all the different projects going on at the house we just bought. My wife and I are renovating it ourselves before we move in at the end of February. There is a lot left to be done in the house before then, so I’m trying to prioritize what we have left to do.
- Have you ever had something happen to you that you thought was bad but it turned out to be for the best?
The first thing that comes to mind was when I lived in Palau in western Micronesia back in 1992. I was relying on monthly care packages from my parents to pay my rent and buy groceries. One month a typhoon in the region completely disrupted the mail system for a while—what used to take 3-4 weeks for the mail to arrive ended up being several weeks late. I worked it out with my host for rent, but for food, I made friends with a chef from China. We came to an arrangement that I taught him English, and he fed me. It was a brilliant relationship, and my parents ended up sponsoring him for an educational visa to come to America to further his studies in English. We remain friends to this day.
- What would you name the autobiography of your life?
“What a Ride.” I’ve had such an adventurous life having lived in various countries around the world. I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.
- If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
I don’t know. I really wouldn’t go on a big buying spree, but I might buy a nice car. I would make sure my parents and grandkids are taken care of.
- How would your friends or family describe you?
I would hope loving; although dorky would probably be a close second.
- What animal do you consider your spirit animal?
A wombat. I’m joking. I have no idea. I’ve never given it any thought.
- What three traits define you?
Thoughtfulness. Compassion. Honesty.
- What is your personal philosophy?
Live and let live.
- Describe a “win” from the work you’ve done over the last four weeks.
Being able to give more than what’s being asked for to the callers that dial us up. Not only giving them the information they’re looking for, but going that extra mile. I had a woman call me who wanted to report an adult that was being abused, so I looked up the Adult Protective Service number for the county that she lived in. I didn’t tell her she had called the wrong number. I helped her because she needed it.
- How do you define success?
I’m not sure I know if I can quantify it or qualify it specifically. I think it’s something that you recognize in yourself and others.
- What is your favorite thing about working at the Management Council?
Even though we’re in a virtual realm, I love that we have great teamwork. I also love being able to provide help to those who are really struggling. We get so many people who have lost so much during the pandemic, that being able to provide any assistance can make such a huge difference to them and their families.