When Shellie Anello walks into a space, she immediately sees what needs to be done. As a construction project manager, she works on many lab renovations, new building construction, and relocations. It’s a heady operation involving tons of coordination, walk throughs, complicated science equipment, HVAC shutdowns, and restarts. But Shellie loves her job, the people she works with, and supporting science research at Yale.
Born and raised in Connecticut, Shellie went to Cheshire High School and got her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of CT. Prior to Yale, she worked for Freeman Enterprises doing lab fit-outs and relocations. In 2008, she got a full-time job at the Sterling Memorial Library. Not long after that, Yale Facilities hired her to work on the Yale Health Center’s move to its new location. She has since been promoted twice and now works primarily on Science Hill managing renovation work in existing buildings and spaces. Recently, she was involved with fitting out labs in the new Yale Science Building.
We caught up with Shellie via Zoom.
What was your very first job?
When I was about 15, I did a combination of newspaper delivery, babysitting, and dishwashing at a local restaurant. I distinctly remember coming home at night and my clothes smelled so bad, I’d change before entering the house! I also remember that, regardless of the task, I always tried to do my very best.
First professional job?
Just after college, I got hired by the Americares Foundation in their IT Department doing programming. I went on an airlift trip to Zaire visiting a Rwandan refugee camp. The camp was having a Cholera epidemic, so we brought much needed medical supplies. The whole week I was there, I journaled about the experience. As a result, I got transferred to their communications department, and my story about the trip got published in their annual report.
What is your favorite childhood memory?
When I was young, my parents attended yearly business conferences, and they’d take me and my brother along. During these road trips, we got to see some cool places like Niagara Falls, the Grand Canyon, and one of my favorites, Washington D.C. One year we got to see the 4th of July fireworks right on the Mall, it was fantastic. I have such happy memories of those trips and the four of us being together.
Best advice you ever received and from whom?
We were a very close-knit family, and my mom was a big influence in my life. But something my grandmother used to say always seems to stick out in my mind. She immigrated from Germany after World War II and experienced some difficult times during and after the war. She’d say if you don’t tickle yourself, you have nothing to laugh about. Finding humor will and does carry you through the tough times.
What advice would you give someone who wants to work at Yale or move up the ladder here?
To persevere and not to give up. Always be accountable. Make every effort to make good on your word. Care about the people you work with and your clients. It goes a long way.
Favorite Yale memory?
When the Yale Science Building was complete and the labs were moved it, I heard that the first experiment had been completed. What an amazing feeling it was to realize that I was, in many ways, part of that very pivotal moment. Also, I love the Peabody’s Great Hall. Every year they have a Halloween Bash. One year I went with friends as a school of jellyfish and we won the best group costume! The Peabody throws one heck of a fun party.
What do you love about your job?
I love the people I work with on Science Hill. Knowing that the lab I’m helping to build or renovate is advancing science and that possibly the scientists in that lab may find a cure for a disease like cancer, it’s very meaningful. Also, I get to work with a great team of people in Facilities and wonderful people from other departments like Yale ITS and Environmental Health and Safety. It is truly amazing what we can do when we come together to work on a common goal.
What is your biggest challenge at work?
Coordinating renovation work in occupied buildings unfortunately causes disruption for its occupants. There is noise, dust, and HVAC disruptions. The most difficult thing is coordinating mechanical, plumbing, and/or electrical shutdowns that may impact other labs using those same services. We work carefully with the PIs to coordinate this. We don’t want to accidentally destroy years of critical research.
How has the pandemic changed what you do day-to-day for work and for home?
We had a 60-day workflow suspension for on-site construction that was challenging to coordinate. But on May 20, renovations started back up, and we can now visit sites. I’m working on campus two days a week. I have a bit of a long commute, so working from home the other three days has been great. I have what I call “lockdown” hair–can’t wait to have it cut. Also, it saddens me a bit that because of the pandemic you can’t easily see family and friends.
Any favorite hobbies?
I enjoy riding my motorcycle with my husband through the Litchfield Hills. I love hanging out with my nephew, who is 14, and doing things with him. Recently, we played mini golf with masks on—that was interesting.
What was your first car and what happened to it?
I had a late 1970s black Cadillac—my parents bought it used. My dad wanted me to drive a car that was big, solid, and safe. It was great. I used to take friends to marching band practice—it could fit six people. The engine finally gave out and we junked it.