It is difficult to choose one event in Doug McAllister’s life to make the focus of a profile. He served five years in the Navy, but only spent 10 days on a ship. He married his second grade classmate after the two reconnected in Florida. He knew Michael Bloomberg before he was famous. He was working five blocks from the World Trade Center on September 11th. He earned his undergraduate degree at UNC and after 10 years of retirement decided to apply for a job at his alma mater.
“I flunked retirement,” McAllister says with a laugh. “My friends were shocked when I told them I was applying for jobs and interviewing at UNC. At first I thought UNC contacted me because they had to reach out to all applicants. But by the second interview, I realized they were serious. I used to be on the other side of the table when I worked in New York City, so I wasn’t sure if my age would make me an unattractive candidate.”
In December 2014, McAllister became UNC’s Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases receptionist. He is the first person staff, students and visitors meet when they enter the Institute’s headquarters on Mason Farm Road. He enjoys interacting with all of the people who work at the Institute – from physicians to accountants – on a daily basis.
“IGHID was intimidating at first because before I worked here, I didn’t fully appreciate its wide scope and how recognized it is globally,” McAllister says. “I am so pleased to work here. Everyone has been generous with their time and support.”
This is a complete career change for McAllister who majored in European history at UNC, worked in air intelligence in the Navy and then spent three decades in the bond business in New York City.
“Most people who work in bonds work on the trading floor, buying and selling bonds for their clients. After an initial training period, they move on to a junior trading sales research position. The turnover is high, so I interviewed a lot of people. Although the firm I was with was bought by others companies a few times, I was with the same company for my entire career, which doesn’t happen often,” McAllister says. “There are similarities about my career in bonds and my work at UNC. In both jobs, no two days are alike and I enjoy that.”
Eric Schneider, Assistant Director of the Institute for Global Health & Infectious Diseases, hired McAllister. He said a certain moment during McAllister’s interview left him with no doubt that McAllister was the right person for the position.
“During the interview, Doug conveyed that his vision for the position was lined up with mine, when he said, ‘I believe I can be the face of the Institute.’ I had previously described the high visibility aspect of the receptionist position as being ‘the face of the Institute.’ After that, it did not take much more for Doug to convince the committee that we should select him as our candidate,” says Schneider. “Working with Doug has been great. He is friendly, engaging, humble and sincere. The feedback I hear from faculty and staff alike is that Doug is well liked and respected.”
Before working at UNC, McAllister volunteered at UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Since he had a strong background as a hiring manager, he helped business school students hone their communications skills through mock job interviews. A native North Carolinian, McAllister is also enjoying becoming reacquainted with his home state.
“When you grow up in an area as a young person, you don’t appreciate it until you leave,” McAllister says. “When I attended UNC, there were only 4-5,000 students and now there are close to 30,000. A lot has changed, but many things are still the same. My wife and I had forgotten how delightful the weather is here.”
He and his wife have one son and a grandson who is nine. McAllister enjoys cheering on the sidelines of his grandson’s basketball and soccer games. He also brings his grandson to UNC football and basketball games with the hopes that he will someday be a Tarheel, too.
“I would love to see him come to UNC,” McAllister says.