Community Spotlight: Randall Carter, Contracts Administrator
Community Spotlight: In each newsletter, we invite you to learn a little more about your colleagues in the tech transfer community. For this interview, we thought it would be fun to introduce you to one of the Addgene employees (or “Addgenies”) that helps technology transfer professionals, like you, process outgoing and incoming materials on a daily basis.
Randall Carter joined Addgene in April of 2016 as a Customer Support Specialist. As of this fall, he has moved on to the Contracts Administrator role and is the newest member of the Technology Transfer Team. After two and a half years of assisting customers with a wide variety of order-related issues, he now deals primarily with our colleagues at university tech transfer offices.
Addgene (AG) - Why did you decide to changes roles at Addgene?
Randall Carter (RC) - Well for starters, I have long gravitated towards the technology transfer side of things in my job as a Customer Support Specialist. Compared to international shipping logistics, general customer support, etc., technology transfer has been the most interesting and exciting part of the job for me. And, while I have enjoyed the customer support role, I never thought of customer service as my calling, my career. So, I’m happy to be able to move into a new role and stay at a great place like Addgene.
AG - What is a typical day like for you at Addgene?
RC - Before, I was charged mainly with answering a wide array of customer service emails and phone calls. I certainly have valued the variety this role provided. Not only did it keep things interesting, but I’ve also gleaned a lot of useful experience from the sundry support situations that have arisen over the past two plus years. Now, a usual day for me involves facilitating the transfer of incoming research materials and answering emails and calls that touch on the finer points of material transfer agreements. I spend a lot of time interacting with university technology managers. As with my previous role, I’m given the time for meaningful side projects outside of my daily responsibilities. As a small non-profit organization, we have the leeway, and the need, to improve our processes and keep them efficient!
AG - What do you find most rewarding about your job?
RC - Overall, I really do appreciate being able to serve a non-profit mission, one that facilitates so much important research around the globe. Aside from that, the most rewarding aspect of my job is being able to clarify situations to people when they’re confused. It is tremendously edifying when someone calls up unsure or upset, but they are noticeably relaxed and appreciative by the end of the phone call. It’s really a great feeling.
AG- What accomplishment are you proudest of?
RC - It’s hard to choose, but I’d say the first time one of my proposed changes to the Addgene website was accepted and implemented. This process involves identifying a suboptimal or missing feature on our site, mocking it up, and bringing that mockup to our team of developers, all before the change is worked on and finally implemented. As a new hire, the process seemed daunting! However, as my institutional knowledge grew, I was able to better ascertain not only what would benefit customers, but also what kinds of changes would be feasible. I’m proud of it because it represented my growing into my role. I’m also proud of it because the changes helped streamline the checkout page, and we subsequently got fewer phone calls about it!
AG - Do you currently hold any internal Addgene records or accolades?
RC - Well, my trivia team did recently win our in-house trivia competition! We got trophies and everything. Prior to that, I hadn’t won any of our fun office competitions: fantasy football, cook-offs, etc. The drought is over!
AG - What do you do for fun?
RC - First and foremost, I spend a lot of time with my friends and my family. My family all live in the Boston area, so thankfully I don’t have to travel much to see them. I’m a sports fan, and I go to a lot of Boston Bruins hockey games. My friends and I even take a yearly trip to go see a road game. It serves as an excuse to see some pretty great cities--Chicago, Nashville, and Toronto among them. I also love music (playing and listening), going to the gym, and enjoying a nice meal at a restaurant.
AG - What is your personal philosophy?
RC - There’s an aphorism called Hanlon’s Razor: never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity. While tongue in cheek, there’s a kernel of truth there. Personally, I expand that sentiment to include individuals’ personal circumstances. You can never know for sure what someone else has going on in their life, so it’s best to just assume they’re having a bad day and to be patient and kind (to the extent you are able).
Especially coming from a customer service role, it’s so much easier to deal with flak if you can be transactional about it, and not take things personally. Thankfully, 99% of the calls I get at Addgene are pleasant, but every now and then, someone’s just having a bad day on the other end of the phone. I’m reminded of a quote that’s often attributed to Mr. Rogers: “[f]rankly, there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story.”