Information Technology Services (ITS)

IT@UofT People — Esther Simmonds-MacAdam

Published on: July 13, 2023

The backbone of any successful team is its hard-working people. The University of Toronto’s Information Technology Services (ITS) unit is no exception. It is made up of a diverse range of people with an even greater diversity in their interests and talents.

In this segment, entitled “IT@UofT People,” we will get to know our IT@UofT team across the tri-campus community and find out more about their hidden or not-so-hidden talents and/or pursuits outside of work.


Name: Esther Simmonds-MacAdam

Department: Enterprise Infrastructure Solutions

Title: Service Delivery Lead

How long have you worked at U of T?

I have been with U of T since 2017, where I started as the Exhibitions Assistant at the Art Museum at the St. George campus. Prior to that I would join the Museum as a Technician on part-time contracts, and I now find myself in the IT space. I have experienced many sides of the University culture and community.

What is your secret or not-so-secret talent or hobby outside of work?

Outside work I constantly draw my son in pencil crayon and drag him to see contemporary art. I look for art that makes me feel and think. It is hard to say whether I love experiencing it or making it more. There is a hypnosis to making that I need to access on a regular basis, with paint, pencil, clay, paper, plastic and light…really anything. I see art, read books about decolonizing design and then go into deep making mode. Rinse, repeat.

How and why did you get involved in this hobby?

I have been drawing since I was a child. I think the rest evolved from there. My joy in visualizing process with EIS keeps me close to my love of drawing.

Esther McAdam standing on a ladder, drawing on a wall

When/how did your interest in this area(s) begin?

I have a magical uncle who could draw anything with any scrap of paper and pencil. He would quietly suggest a new line, or a new pressure you could add to your mark. He draws with equal care a refined polished person, and a piece of more complex social life. I could not help but see the world in the same way.

Do you have any professional training in this field?

I practiced as a contemporary artist for almost 10 years prior to joining U of T. I maintained a research-based practice funded by grants, as well as a commercial portraiture practice. But my formal education was Woman’s Studies, Political Science, and later Sociology and Equity Studies from OISE. In my undergrad at Mount Allison and then Concordia, I would sneak into studio courses to touch paint and canvas and the visual.

Who/what are your inspirations?

My uncle John MacAdam for everything, Marlene Dumas the painter for her empathetic figures, Michel Foucault for his thinking on power, Joe Carter for his two world series wins, and Whitney Huston for the voice of an angel.