Andy Yates, Team Leader

Andy Yates, Team Leader

I've always been a programmer at heart, and loved biology. Bioinformatics gave me a way to bring those two things together." Andy Yates, Team Leader, Genomics Technology Infrastructure

 Andy Yates, Team Leader at EMBL-EBI

Q&A with Andy Yates

Q: How long have you been working here?

Just over 10 years

Q: What does your job entail?

I'm a team leader, which means I'm responsible for setting out strategy, developing new links both within and outside EMBL-EBI and leading a group of 17 people to do the best they can. Before I started in this role I was a Java/Oracle programmer, then switched to Perl/MySQL and worked my way up the ranks. 

Q: What's your professional background? 

I was a Java programmer working at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute (conveniently located on the same campus as EMBL-EBI) in the Cancer Genome Project. Before that, I was a pharmacologist before switching to bioinformatics for my MSc at Manchester University. I've always been a programmer at heart, and loved biology. Bioinformatics gave me a way to bring those two things together.

Q: What attracted you to EMBL-EBI?

A different challenge. My work in the Cancer Genome Project had me supporting our group's postdocs. As hugely rewarding as that experience was, I wanted to move to a setting where my work would have a much larger impact. When a position opened up in the Integr8 team - now Ensembl Genomes - I jumped at the chance. 

Q: What do you like about working here? 

We have a lot of smart people here. I really enjoy making sure they have the right environment to maximise their potential. I've also always felt supported by my peers and senior management, and I want to do the same for others.

Q: What challenges do you face in your work?

There are many, ranging from making sure projects are delivered on time to more complex and long-distance strategic decision making. There is an art to making sure we are moving in the right direction without overly complicating the process. I'm also faced with helping to design and deliver infrastructure that can scale to terabytes of disk and provide responsive, scalable services for our customers. These are good challenges to have.

Q: What advice would you give someone who was applying for a similar job?

Make sure management is for you. To move into a team-leader role, you should have experience managing medium-sized teams. You should know if this is something you want in practice. In return, the rewards are pretty amazing.