Souradji Issotou: Going the Extra Mile, With a Smile

UVA Today is highlighting the winners of the 2012 Leonard W. Sandridge Outstanding Contribution Awards, the highest U.Va. honor staff receive for their dedicated service to the University. Today: Souradji Issotouof U.Va.'s Health System. To see all of the stories, click here

May 18, 2012 — As an immigrant, Souradji Issotou knows what it's like to be in unfamiliar territory. As a University of Virginia Health System greeter, he makes sure others never feel out of place.

Issotou's warm smile and eagerness to help impressed his nominators, Janice Braxton, Eleanor Friel, Melissa Shifflett, Rita Williams and Maricela Rodriguez of the Patient & Guest Services information desk. They note his courtesy, his compassion, his cheerfulness and his commitment to his job. "His customer service skills are so exceptional that you want others to learn from him – he is a role model," they wrote.

Issotou came to the United States in 2005 from Togo, West Africa, his nominators reported. He spoke little English, but took English as a Second Language classes so he could excel in his job. Last summer he became an American citizen.

His impact on the Health System was felt recently when he went back to Togo for two months. After he returned, he made a point of personally thanking his teammates for their extra work in his absence. "He is just that kind of guy," his nominators wrote, "considerate and appreciative of others."

Issotou is always eager to greet patients, to make them feel welcome, to help them in any way he can. "Souradji goes the extra mile," his nominators wrote. "He is like a knight in shining armor and happens to appear just when you need him."

He's also willing to go above and beyond his job description, taking on extra tasks whenever needed. And he always does so with a good mood and a positive attitude.

"He is a bright light for our department and for U.Va.," his nominators wrote. "It is a pleasure to know and work with him. We can't think of anyone else who is more deserving of being recognized for their consistent positive attitude, service-oriented nature, excellent team work and overall makes U.Va. and the world a better place."

– by Josh Barney