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Duke Today: Helping the Light Bulbs Go Off

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Duke Today recently featured Duke I&E team member Andrea Yackenovich! Read the article, posted on the Duke Today website, here.

Helping the Light Bulbs Go Off

Andrea Yackenovich helps entrepreneurs and startups at Duke

February 29, 2016
Interviewed by April Dudash

andrea_web_HName: Andrea Yackenovich
Position: Associate director of Operations and Strategy, Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative
Years at Duke: 15

What I do at Duke: I have administrative oversight over the initiative, so I deal with our budget, HR issues and our day-to-day operations. I manage special projects for Dr. Eric Toone (vice provost and director of the Duke Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative). The initiative moved into an entrepreneurship hub, The Bullpen, in downtown Durham in August, and the renovation of that space is an example of a special project. We wanted the space to be almost alive, if that makes sense, a dynamic, vibrant place where you can work, you can interact with other people, and you can find help and resources if you need it. We’re happy to help people if they have an idea written on a cocktail napkin or a sticky note, to people who have a formalized business plan and a CEO and maybe some staff.

My first ever job: a babysitter. I babysat for the family across the street from me. They had three, well-behaved children. I grew up in Livingston, New Jersey.

What I love about Duke: I feel like Duke, as an institution, is typically on the forefront of things that are new and upcoming. I like the people at Duke; everyone is so collegial.

When I’m not at work, I like to: be with my two children and husband. Emily is 6 and my son, Jacob, is 3 and a half. We like to go to places like the Durham Museum of Life + Science together, to the park and to the playground.

A book I like: The “Outlander” series by Diana Gabaldon. After reading the books, and they’re each over 1,000 pages long, you are invested. You know these characters as people.

Something most people don’t know about me: When I did my summer research program as an undergraduate at the University of Mary Washington, they took us on a variety of field trips, and one of the field trips was going spelunking in the saltpeter caves near Blacksburg, Virginia. It was dirty and it was wet and it was cold. People who know me would be very surprised that I would do that. There was one section, I think it was called the dance floor, and the guide had us turn off our lights so we could really see how dark it was. There were signatures in pencil from Civil War soldiers on some of the walls.

An interesting/memorable day at work for me: the day we had our ribbon cutting at The Bullpen because it was exciting to see our vision come to life after spending so much time pouring over tattered, dog-eared plans. To be able to walk through and see it in real life, and having people come and enjoy it, was tremendously exciting. President Brodhead and Mr. David Rubenstein were both here and said wonderful things about innovation and entrepreneurship and how it’s important to Duke as a whole.

Something unique in my office: My husband and I were in Barnes & Noble and I was perusing through the children’s section. This book, “What Do You Do With an Idea?”, caught my eye. When I flipped through the pages, I realized it’s innovation and entrepreneurship ideas for preschoolers. The illustrations in the book go from being black-and-white sketches to colorful and vibrant as the character talks about how ‘I love my idea. I gave it time and attention.’ At the end of the book, it asks, ‘What do you do with an idea? You change the world.’

A pet peeve: Disorganization.


This interview can be read on Duke Today’s website here.

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