THREE QUESTIONS FOR Todd Hancock
April 6, 2021
Todd Hancock joined Berkeley Lab in November 2020 as the director of the Projects & Infrastructure Modernization Division (PIMD). He has 35 years of experience leading large-scale capital and science projects across various sectors, including infrastructure, biotech, mining/chemical processing, commercial manufacturing, and refinery facilities. An engineer by training, he's also an expert in managing business process change.
Todd loved to build things as a child. He had a strong desire to understand how things worked and was, in his words, "pretty dangerous with my father's toolbox." He was exposed to engineering as a profession while still in high school, and it became a natural draw as it provided him with the technical skills to solve practical problems.
A fan of almost any outdoor activity, Todd can be found hiking, cycling, gardening, and tackling the occasional construction project around the house.
What attracted you to work at Berkeley Lab? How did it feel and what, if anything, changed in your approach to a new role?
I've spent my entire career delivering challenging projects in a variety of industries. I like tough problems and big challenges, but more importantly, I enjoy building strong, capable organizations to get things done. When I read the PIMD Director role's position description, it resonated with me as it had many of those elements. I was looking for a role that would allow me to leverage my skills to do something meaningful. What better opportunity than to help a world-class Laboratory upgrade its aging infrastructure and facilities to enable the next generation of cutting-edge research.
What was it like to join the Lab during a pandemic?
The pandemic has made it challenging to get to know people as quickly as I'd like. When it comes to projects, it's really important to get to know your team members and your customers and stakeholders. Trying to establish relationships over Zoom requires patience, understanding, and sometimes some trial and error. I must say, though, I've had some constructive, positive interactions with everyone at the Lab I've had the opportunity to meet.
I'm trying to be sensitive to how I interact with my team and listen carefully to understand how I can best support them in this challenging environment. It's pretty amazing how well the organization has adapted to this "new normal" and how much work we are still getting done despite many challenges and constraints.
You bring 35 years of experience in the private sector to your role. How are you applying that experience to the Lab environment?
When it comes to projects, especially big projects, many larger corporations leverage similar fundamental processes around gated (multi-staged) project delivery. I've worked under those systems in petrochemical, mining and metals, biopharmaceuticals, food and beverage, and several other industries. I've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly at this point in my career. I've seen what works and what doesn't. I know how to partner and collaborate with diverse organizations, and I know how to gain alignment around common, shared goals. I'll be leaning on that experience to help PIMD develop the capabilities and the working relationships to successfully deliver the significant portfolio of projects that we will be executing at the Lab over the coming decade. There's some great talent within the organization, and I intend to leverage their strengths to help us achieve our goals.
I like to think of myself as a process-thinker. I've had quite a bit of training and experience in quality management, including Six-Sigma and lean methodologies. I've done quite a bit of process mapping to identify opportunities for improvement and build efficient and effective business processes. I'll be leveraging those skills to help the PIMD team collaborate with others to deliver on the improvements that are needed.