Staff Spotlight — Darrell Cook

Darrell CookDarrell Cook, director of Cross Application Platforms, IT Enterprise Applications, joined Yale in June 2013. He began his career at Yale as the director of the Oracle Data Warehouse team. Within a few short months, Darrell transitioned to the team supporting HR and Finance Administrative Systems, which includes the Oracle ERP system. He then became the Technical Workstream Lead in Yale’s Workday initiative—helping to oversee all aspects of the data conversion and integrations, and taking on responsibility for Yale’s Workday tenant management strategy and performance. The team delivered well over 220+ integrations over the HCM and Finance releases.  In April of 2017, Darrell assumed responsibility of the Integration Competency Center, where he has been leading the team in the ownership of integration platforms, building out enterprise services and utilizing a Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) approach, along with helping to develop standards and best practices in this space.

What is your job/role at Yale?

Due to recent organizational changes to the Enterprise Applications Team within ITS, my team and set of responsibilities have changed quite a bit.  The HR, Payroll, Finance, and Procurement technical teams transitioned to the functional areas they previously supported.  My focus currently is on integration, services, architecture, and standards relevant to all application teams across Enterprise Applications.  My team, which is now called Cross Application Platforms, also has responsibility for things like the Workday Platform, leading initiatives such as the Enterprise Monitoring Projects, and overseeing efforts to establish the future state of our document management solution.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in a small rural town in the northeastern part of Connecticut called Killingly. My parents both grew up in Rhode Island, and my grandparents still lived there while I was growing up. I spent many of my early years in Rhode Island with my two brothers, playing in the acres upon acres of land my grandparents owned—building forts, fishing and ice skating, and moving tons of wood and logs (for what would become firewood) along a train system that my grandfather had built through the woods.      

What was your first job?

Not counting my first gig selling nightcrawlers around the age of 10 or 11, my first real consistent money-making job was a paper route in my neighborhood, which I got when I was 14.  Every morning, I was on my bike delivering papers by 5:00 or 6:00 a.m.  I did this every week, all year long, regardless of the weather. It was tough waking up that early as a teenager, but it was easy money for the hour or so that I worked each day. Sometimes on the weekends, I could sneak back in bed to catch up on some much-needed sleep. When I turned 16 and got my first car, I took on another neighborhood about a mile down the street. I continued my paper routes for about four years, while simultaneously taking on other jobs in the summer (like working third shift at Frito-Lay loading 18 wheelers) and in the evenings until I headed off to college. 

How did you get into your line of work?

I originally wanted to go into the Air Force to fly fighter planes—jets like F16’s and F14 Tomcats.  As a child, I made a great deal of model planes and walked around with aviators and a flight jacket like Maverick from Top Gun. It wasn’t until my junior year in high school when I started taking a series of computer classes such as Pascal, QBasic, First Publisher, etc. that I discovered my passion for computers.  I often found myself programming away every chance I got, even during my study halls.  After buying my first computer, I was hooked and began to realize that I wanted to pursue a career in computer programming instead.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

I’m not sure this qualifies as advice, but some of my best life lessons were learned through the actions of my parents, specifically my father. Growing up, my parents instilled in us a great work ethic. My dad was a blue-collar worker and the only bread-winner in our family.  He worked hard to ensure my mom and my two brothers and I had what we needed, and eventually even the 19 foster infants and toddlers that we took in over the years.  We ultimately adopted two of those children who are now part of our family. When my dad wasn’t working, he was always busy and offering his time to help others, mainly those he knew couldn’t do things themselves or struggled to do them, and dragging us here and there as well. He’d give his shirt off his back if someone needed it and was a role model for my brothers and I. Regardless of what he did, he put his all into it and gave 110%. He taught us the value of hard work and the importance of helping others.