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Big Nerd of the Month: Chris Donnelly

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Victoria Skinner

Happy Nerd Year! In this joyful new year of nerdiness, we’re honoring our January Big Nerd of the Month, Chris Donnelly. Chris is still new to Big Nerd Ranch, but he’s made a big impact.

In addition to being our IT guru, Chris’ talents include home brewery and finger magic. Yes, we said finger magic (it’s actually pretty great).

His past work with nonprofits has taken him from Haiti to D.C. to Iowa, but we’re thrilled he’s made it back to Atlanta to share his talents with us. As part of his initiation into our Big Nerd hall of fame, we sat down with Chris to bask in the glow of his majesty.

Big Nerd Ranch: Congratulations on being voted January’s Big Nerd of the Month! What new swag will you be adding to the trophy?

Chris: And ruin the reveal?! Nice try.

BNR: The suspense is going to kill us! I guess we’ll just have to wait and see… You’re still pretty new to Big Nerd Ranch. Will you share how you ended up here?

Chris:  I’ve known Marcus Owens since college. One night, a couple of months after he had started as a project strategist at Big Nerd Ranch, he mentioned this job opening he thought I would be a good fit for. Interested, I read the posting and promptly determined that I was woefully under-qualified for this IT-managing, CRM-wrangling, operations-engineering madness of a position. I’m still not certain how he convinced me to apply, but he did.

TL;DR: blame Marcus!

BNR: Obviously, you severely underestimated yourself—just look at all you’re doing now! We’re thrilled to have you. We’re curious; what were your first impressions of us?

Chris: The first meeting I attended was scheduled for an hour, but lasted only about 10 minutes. I thought, “Wow, it’s actually about getting stuff done!” Nothing has swayed me from that first reaction. I’m regularly impressed with the depth of knowledge, sense of humor and feeling of community here. I feel right at home.

BNR: The joys of working with fellow nerds. Do you have a favorite thing about working for Big Nerd Ranch so far?

Chris: The best thing here is that we have the freedom to try and fail in the pursuit of something better.  

BNR: You’ve got to be able to take those chances in order to create good work! Speaking of good work, we know you’ve worked with a couple of nonprofits in the past. Can you share what drew you to those organizations?

Chris:  I wanted to spend my time doing something that I could feel good about at the end of the day. Working those jobs put me near people from all walks of life and really broadened my horizons.

BNR: And you’ve gotten to spend time in a few different countries while working for Habitat for Humanity, right? Do you have a favorite?

Chris: Oddly enough, Haiti was my favorite. It was dangerous and destitute and staggeringly beautiful—I have never been somewhere with such vivid contrasts. Seeing the opposite extreme of life made me begin to re-evaluate what happiness means to me. That trip caused me to grow personally more than any other event I can remember.

BNR: Sounds like you’ve had some great working experiences! We hope we can continue the trend. On a more personal level, we hear you’re a home brewer. How did you get into that?

Chris: I recently moved to Atlanta from southwest Georgia. Living in the middle of nowhere as a beer snob was hard! A friend and I were lamenting the lack of good brew and decided to take matters into our own hands. One kitchen sacrificed to fermentors and vats of sanitizer later, we had corny kegs full of our very own beer.

BNR: We have many proud beer aficionados at the Ranch, so it looks like you fit in wonderfully. Thanks so much for chatting with us, Chris, and congratulations again on being voted Big Nerd of the Month. You deserve it!

Think you’ve got what it takes to become a Nerd? Check out our open positions and apply to join the team.

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Victoria Skinner

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