Five Questions with Bryan Andregg
Bryan Andregg brings a chef’s efficiency to the world of IT.
Name: Bryan Andregg
Position: Security and systems manager for Instructional and Information Systems
Years at Gillings: Three
What I do at Gillings (and why I love it): I manage a team that provides the infrastructure and support for information technology (IT) at the Gillings School. I’m a manager now, not a maker, so my primary job is to support my team in their projects and ensure they have the resources they need.
I really like the fact that we contribute to the mission of the School. What we do – be it building an app to collect data or setting up shared file storage where researchers can collaborate– promotes the work of public health. Even though we don’t actually research or teach or go into the community ourselves, we move the field forward.
Before coming to the Gillings School: I worked in two worlds: IT and food. I started working in IT at a time when dropping out of college to join the dotcom boom is just what people did. That’s exactly what I did when I became part of Red Hat at its inception. I stayed there from a time when I was one of only 22 employees until a time when the company had more than 700 employees, and I realized I didn’t fit within its culture anymore. That led me to a job at Duke University, but eventually I became unhappy and thought I was simply done with the IT field. (I wasn’t, but I didn’t know it at the time).
I’d been getting more and more involved in the local food community and decided that a culinary career was what I wanted to tackle next. At 32, I went to culinary school and began a series of “chef adventures” that took me from a small farm-to-table restaurant to a five star chateau in Tennessee, and from a luxury dude ranch in Colorado to a public/private high school in Vermont.
In case you’ve never reached this conclusion, let me tell you that the culinary world is harsh. The hours are bad, the pay is low and the work is physically demanding. It does, however, teach you to work efficiently. In any case, when the academic year ended at that high school, I found myself reaching out to my network and re-entering the IT world. This brought me back to Duke and, ultimately, to UNC.
Outside of work, I like to: live a boring life! Honestly, I love my home space and get a lot of comfort from it. My partner Rachel and I go on walks and hikes, and I do a lot of cooking and engaging with the local food scene. I’m also beginning to engage with some forward-thinking people in Durham’s LGBTQ community. I was talking with a friend recently, and I found myself saying that we all know some people who overcome the sadness and pain of life by donning black clothing and eyeliner and listening to Goth music late at night. But I’m 42, and I have learned that the way I deal with the world is by putting on colorful clothing and creating some happiness.
I learned (at least some of) my managerial style from: my days coaching a women’s roller derby team. When I lived in Vermont, a friend joined a new derby team that really needed someone to commit to being their coach. I didn’t know much about the sport, but luckily I found myself with a bunch of first-time skaters who were also playing a team sport for the first time. We grew together. We studied the rules of gameplay, we did warm-ups to get into shape, and eventually we reached the point where, if we were losing a bout, we could figure out what wasn’t working and adjust. It was pretty foundational in my education of how to be a good manager. Each week, I was engaging with 30 different people who needed 30 different kinds of support and motivation to perform at their best.
The best advice I ever received was: “Never be afraid of pressing a button.” Growing up, my father was an engineer. I did well enough academically that it was almost expected I would follow in his footsteps, but then I was given a computer and it just made sense to me. Looking back, it was inevitable that I would end up working in IT. These days, I find that some people who struggle with technology have real trepidation about engaging with it, like they’re afraid of causing some kind of damage if they get it wrong. I say, “Just push the button.”