Brian Taniyama: Employee lifecycle and end user support

A deep dive with Brian Taniyama, IT Manager at Buzzfeed. If you haven’t heard of Buzzfeed yet, where have you been?

What do you ACTUALLY do?

Expenses mostly. But when I’m not doing expenses I manage a team of IT Specialists that support BuzzFeed’s offices around the globe. We are responsible for the employee lifecycle and all end user support.

What types of devices do you support?

Everything that end users touch, use, and break. We are mostly Apple here, but have a handful of [insert non Apple device here] as well. Plus the usual office infrastructure, such as AV Equipment, Printers, etc.

What’s your favorite piece of tech?

The iPhone X is great. I could probably do 90% of my job from it. Though I have a Surface Book at home that I love. With more and more of software moving to the cloud, OS and hardware becomes less and less relevant.

What tools or apps are most important to your job?

We use Slack all day every day, and despite the issues with context in text based messaging, it’s hard to communicate without it. We use Zendesk for ticketing and am constantly documenting or looking up documentation in Confluence.

Do you prefer hands-on, or troubleshooting from afar?

I love talking to people in real life and being hands on.

Favorite thing about your IT environment?

BuzzFeed has grown so fast that there’s a lot to catch up on. A lot of policies and procedures created on the fly that we are finding aren’t scalable. Because of this, it keeps me busy and there’s always a new challenge to work on, which is my favorite.

Thing you’d most like to change about it?

Automation. The answer is always automation.

What’s on your desk?

15” MacBook Pro / Dell 27” U2717D Display / OWC Thunderbolt 3 Dock / Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad / Logitech MX Master 25

How did you start your career in IT?

Several years at the Apple Store, doing everything from Regional Visual Merchandising coordinator to Manager to Lead Genius. Led me to an IT Desktop Role at a company named One Kings Lane. Worked my way to IT Manager and then joined BuzzFeed as an IT Manager about a year ago.

What are the biggest misconceptions of your role, internally or externally?

I don’t actually spend a lot of time dealing with tech anymore. I am usually working on strategy, communicating with stakeholders, and keeping everything running smoothly.

What was your proudest professional moment?

Anytime a former employee goes to bigger and better things. Several of my former employees from Apple now work in full time jobs at Apple corporate. The majority of my team in my previous role went to the big Silicon Valley/Bay Area darlings. I am very passionate about development and giving people the skills be able to progress in their career.

What are the biggest challenges in your work?

If BuzzFeed was just a video production company, that’d be a challenge all on it’s own. But we have to also support a 24/7 news organization, a tech org, our editorial content, branded sales, a retail commerce team, and much much more. It’s sometimes difficult to find solutions that can blanket all the different aspects of our business.

Most cringeworthy request?

Had a freelancer with a two week long contract that requested we buy him a $3000 Razer Blade laptop for the time that he’d be here. He was in sales where our normal deployment is a MacBook Air.

Do you stay hydrated at work?

Our office is obsessed with La Croix, but I just don’t get it. Regular water and green tea for me. Cold brew coffee if I’m having a rough morning.


I’ll use a GUI unless CLI is faster. My most common use case for CLI is GAM

DIY or turnkey?

If there’s money to spend, turnkey. I appreciate DIY for being able to build a solution that is catered specifically to your environment, but sometimes support contracts can save. your. ass.

Who would you love to see interviewed here?

LeePatrick McIntire, Senior Manager, Technology Infrastructure at goop.

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