As a member of the business administration team, Andrea Taylor is involved in many processes across the ALS—work that draws on her previous roles in hospitality. She has also lent her musical talents to our User Meetings, so be sure to check out the music videos.
What path led you to the ALS?
I was in hospitality for 15 years. It was just the natural job for somebody who wanted to support themselves through school with a flexible schedule. I put myself through community college and then Cal, doing my degree in political science. When I was at Cal, I was a manager at a one-Michelin-star restaurant called Aster, and there I got a taste for things like business planning, team management, developing processes, implementation, and that sort of thing.
After graduating from Cal, I saw a job in the Director’s Office at Berkeley Lab and thought, “Wow, this sounds right up my alley.” Being in the public service sector, that’s where I saw myself headed after getting this degree, and in the Director’s Office, I utilized a lot of the hospitality skills, especially when I supported the Protocol Office with their events. I then moved over to the Projects and Infrastructure Modernization Division and was able to leverage the tuition assistance program to start my masters degree in public administration. I finished that after becoming an administrator at the ALS and will always be grateful to the ALS for the flexibility in earning that degree.
What does your role at the ALS entail?
I am a senior administrator working in the business administration team. I supervise a small team that focuses on different administrative needs for the Photon Science Group and general administrative needs across the ALS as well. We cover a broad swath of things, from scheduling support, to procurement, to travel, to interview scheduling, and supporting advisory groups like the Science Council, SAC, and UEC. It can be complex for our staff to navigate the relationship between the Lab, the University of California, and DOE, and administrators are your partner in that. Engage us—we want to find solutions to the operational challenges our staff face!
When I was in the Director’s Office, it seemed like the most interesting things were happening at the ALS. Since I’ve been here, I’ve learned what I’m capable of as an administrator. I especially love strategic planning and process improvement. It’s also been interesting to see how much cross collaboration there is on the science side. For example, we had Innovation Forums a couple of years ago that I helped support. They involved a lot of scientists in other divisions and from across the nation who are interested in using these tools and techniques for their own innovations. I’m impressed and inspired by the variety of people who come to the ALS and the variety of science that they’re doing. This spirit of bringing people from across the world to facilitate collaboration, to pursue the mysteries of the universe, inspires me to be more curious about what I do, too.
Which inclusion, diversity, equity, and accountability (IDEA) activities are you involved in?
I’m co-chair of the Women’s Support and Empowerment Council (WSEC) Networking subcommittee. It’s been a rewarding experience to be part of the employee resource group (ERG) leadership team, to see how the Lab values IDEA and also see where there is room for improvement.
Some of the fun things that I have been involved with are the slate of virtual events we produce for Women’s History Month. The WSEC changed its name from Women Scientists and Engineers Council in an effort to be more inclusive to all who identify as women at the Lab no matter what their professional focus is, and now we’re working to break down any kind of artificial barriers between us and other ERGs. We’re thinking of ways that we can all work together and reach across different areas of expertise and experiences.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I need at least a hike a week for my soul, and I take my two beloved dogs with me. I love reading; I read one to three books a week and love sci-fi and fantasy. I needle felt—making little creatures out of wool. It’s fun because you essentially create something by stabbing it; very cathartic. I also love rock climbing, and there are a lot of people who climb at the ALS, so we’ve been talking about an activity for people at the ALS to all climb together.
I make music, playing my guitar and singing. My biggest influences are Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It’s been fun to collaborate with Dula Parkinson on songs for the User Meeting.