Andy Barron

Senior Systems Administrator

As the Senior Systems Administrator for the Service Desk team at the Sanger Institute, I help my team deliver robust and reliable IT solutions - backed up with high-quality expert advice and support - to enable our researcher and scientific colleagues to undertake their work.

I know first-hand how important it is for our scientists and administer staff to have the best possible hardware and software to carry out the institute’s world-leading genomic and clinical research. Even more, I know that it is vital that, when things do wrong, they can call upon reliable and knowledge support to resolve any issues and allow them to continue seamlessly with their work.

My first role at the Sanger Institute was as a Genome Analysist more than 20 years ago. This involved the comparison of genomic features in DNA sequence. The results of these projects have laid the foundations for many of the steps forward in diagnosis and treatment of inherited and infectious diseases since.

My main interest has always been in understanding how computers work and finding ways to extract the most from them. So when, after eight years or working as a genome analyst, the opportunity arose to join the Sanger institute’s IT department in the newly-formed Service Desk team, I jumped at the chance.

As the Institute’s size and computing requirement have grown, I have been intimately involved in the team’s evolution from three members in two small separate rooms to six knowledge experts working in a custom-designed office to meet those needs. We are constantly looking at ways to improve and from feedback gained from our customers we have now opened a 2nd Service Desk in the Sulston building two days per week. My team and I strive to take on tasks from other IDS teams so that they can dedicate more of their time to explore the opportunities new technologies offer to deliver innovative research projects.

As a testament to the professionalism and dedication of my team, I am extremely proud that we regularly receive 95 per cent approval ratings from our Institute colleagues each month.

I am also proud of the way that my team work together and support each other to deliver the best possible service. I believe that we work at our best when we are supported to acquire the greatest possible levels of expertise and knowledge. I have set up training requirements for new team members which are carried out within 12 months of their starting date.

After the required courses are complete I like to encourage my staff members to carry on taking at least one course per year to further their development. The Sanger Institute offers excellent various internal courses for personnel development and I encourage everyone in my team to take advantage of them assist their development. I certainly have.

I like to run an open and friendly team, and I encourage my engineers to reach out to me to ask questions or to discuss any concerns they have. If mistakes are made I want the engineer to feel they can also reach out so we can find the best solution to the problem and to learn from any mistakes that are made. I also clearly define my expectations of the junior engineers so they follow the high standard I have set.

I work with Cambridge Regional College to take on students for two-year on-the-job training placement as I became aware many students were struggling to find these in work placements. This has been very beneficial for both parties as we have hired the students at the end of their placements due to the commitment they have shown during their time working with us.