Staff Spotlight – Brian Rebeschi

As the newly appointed Interim Deputy Dean at the Medical School, Brian Rebeschi has many responsibilities but takes them all in stride. While the last few months have been difficult times for all, Brian remains focused. That steadiness comes from three decades on the job and the belief in improvement by constant learning.

Brian grew up in North Haven with his parents and two siblings. After graduating from Notre Dame High School, he put himself through college, receiving a degree in Finance at Central Connecticut State University. After working at Gaylord Hospital and then the former Blue Cross and Blue Shield (now Anthem), he got a job at Yale as an accountant. At the time, his plan was to work at Yale a few years, finish graduate school, then move to New York City to become a broker. But after the financial crash in the mid-1980s, he switched his major getting a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from Quinnipiac University.

Now, a Yale veteran with 32 years of service, he continues to learn and firmly believes in the importance of leaving things better then you found them. Brian became interim dean in June of this year, when the former dean, Cynthia Walker, retired. While the transition was a good one, it’s been a tough year with the pandemic forcing everyone to work from home, and then losing his father to the Coronavirus. Married and the father of three grown children, Brian is also a grandfather who has found a bright spot during the pandemic enjoying extra time with his grandson.

He talked to us via Zoom about finding opportunities, the importance of family, and how anyone with solid values and determination can do well.

What was your first job?

When I was 16, I worked at McDonald’s for about a year. I really didn’t like it, but learned the importance of a strong work ethic. You can learn something from every job you have. How to manage people, or what to do during a difficult situation. All that helps you grow for the next job.

Favorite childhood memory

One of my earliest childhood memories is a road trip we took as a family to Disney World in Florida. Disney had just opened that year and we drove down 1,500 miles! We had an awesome time. To this day, we still talk about that trip. It was great to spend time together as a family.

Best advice you ever received and from whom?

It was from Mike Peel, the former Yale Vice President of Human Resources. He was doing a presentation using a team-based approach. He said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish when you don’t worry about who gets the credit.” If you focus on the result and the team behind it, not who gets to put their name on it, magical things happen. Ultimately, no one is successful by themselves.

Biggest work challenge(s) you or your department is facing?

Our biggest challenge is the pandemic and the financial repercussions and realities of it. In a short amount of time, we went from a financially sound situation to having a financial crisis. Also, literally overnight, we changed to a work-at-home culture. I’m proud that we were able to move everyone off-campus so quickly, and how well it is working.

Lessons learned from the pandemic (work, home, life)?

The importance of family, and realizing that overnight your life can turn upside down. My family was impacted on a personal level because I lost my dad to the virus, that was very difficult. But, there are also lots of positives coming out of this situation. I’ve seen people quickly adapt to the many changes. As humans we are very resilient. I’m very lucky to be surrounded by incredibly talented people. They’ve made it look easy during a very challenging time.  

Favorite hobbies?

I enjoy hiking and will make a vacation out of it.  My son and I did a great trip in Northern England hiking 200 miles coast to coast along Hadrian’s Wall. The past few years I’ve been spending weekends hiking the 4,000-foot peaks in New Hampshire; there are 48 of them. I’ve bagged 43 so far. I’m also restoring a 1970 Ford Thunderbird. It was my late uncle’s.

Some tips or advice you’d give people working in Yale Finance?

Always try to do the right thing, even when it’s a hard thing to do. Look for new opportunities and try to get out of your comfort zone. I started as an entry-level accountant, and now I’m an interim deputy dean. When I first came to Yale, I was a young local guy looking for a good company to work for. I took advantage of opportunities. Look for stretch assignments and always continue to learn and develop your skills.

If you weren’t working in finance what would be your dream job?

It’s not my dream job, but when I retire, I’m going to become an at-home mechanic. I love to tinker on cars.  

What was your first car, and what happened to it?

It was a 1965 dark blue, Ford Mustang. I bought it for $150 from my neighbor. It was sitting in his driveway, not running. I fixed it up and got it running. Before I started college, I sold it to a guy who restores cars and regret it to this day. I often wonder what became of it. My dad taught me how to rebuild cars and engines. I have some great memories of him and I tinkering on the family cars.