McIntyre leading the tech behind the Cubs
When the ball nestled into first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s glove in early November 2016, the Chicago Cubs became World Series champions for the first time since 1908. It had taken a true team effort to climb back from a three-games-to-one deficit in the series and catapult Cubs nation into jubilation. A 108-year championship drought had ended.
On a larger scale, the entire Cubs organization has made a more impressive comeback, not only assembling championship-caliber talent on the field, but reconstructing historic Wrigley Field, revitalizing building after building throughout Wrigleyville, building a top minor league system, and creating a strong organizational structure to support it all.
Technical systems—from user operations to facility infrastructure to custom software development—form a large part of this structure, and that is where MechSE alumnus Andrew McIntyre (BSME ’96) enters the picture. As the Cubs’ Vice President of Technology, he has ventured off the path taken by most mechanical engineering majors.
“Even going into Illinois, I didn’t know if mechanical was the right fit for me,” McIntyre said. “But the engineering skills, the trouble shooting, the problem solving—the path it put me on was spot on.”
Those core skills helped McIntyre earn an MBA from Illinois and undertake seven years of consulting work before pivoting into technology positions at CNO Financial Group and Bankers Life and Casualty.
And then emerged a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity—at least for sports enthusiasts in Chicagoland: a highly sought-after position on the business side of the Cubs.
“I was a candidate from outside the industry and had a completely different background, but that’s what the Cubs were looking for,” McIntyre said. “One of the philosophies here is to compile people from outside the industry together because they’re going to bring unique and different viewpoints.”
This belief system comes from the current ownership, which took over the Cubs in October 2009.
“When the Ricketts family purchased the Cubs, that was the beginning of a big change in the direction for the organization,” McIntyre said. “They established three main goals. The first was to win the World Series, the second was to restore Wrigley Field, and the third was to be a good neighbor.
“All of our efforts have been rolling back to those three goals.”
In his work, McIntyre has three main responsibilities as well.
The first is managing a somewhat traditional IT team, which handles technical operations— including all phones, computers, and tech support—for both the business side and the baseball side of the organization.
His second group is the infrastructure team, which spans all networking and audio/ video technology that enables broadcasting from both Wrigley Field and Sloan Park, the Cubs’ spring training facility in Mesa, Arizona.
His third team handles software development for all areas of business operations, including sales, marketing, human relations, and accounting. One major area of focus is in customer-relationships management—the technology that leads to making Cubs fans happy.
“We have our hands dabbling in all of the fun areas of technology,” McIntyre said.
But their work is not limited to Chicago and Mesa, as the Cubs opened a training academy in the Dominican Republic in 2013.
“I spent a lot of time down there when we were developing it,” McIntyre said. “It’s really a full development academy because the Ricketts family feels very strongly about helping these individuals prepare for life even if they don’t make it in baseball.”
The Ricketts’ plans have been coming to fruition in Chicago as well, and not just because of the World Series victory. From concerts in Wrigley, to a hotel nearing completion on Clark Street, to the purchase and revitalization of surrounding buildings, the neighborhood is transforming quickly. In April 2017, McIntyre and his team moved into a freshly erected office building adjacent to Wrigley.
“From my window, I can see where the double-wide trailer sat that was my first office here,” he said. “We had four doublewides in all. Then we moved to a building across the street, and then this year this facility was launched.”
The view from his window shows so much—Wrigley Field and a view through to the pitcher’s mound directly to his left, the nearly completed Hotel Zachary to his right. In the center lies a new park designed for multiple uses: people gather and socialize there on game days, kids can play there every day, and organized events from movies to concerts to farmers’ markets are scheduled as well.
“The idea is that it becomes more of a 365-day area, more than just for Cubs games,” he said.
Behind these myriad efforts the organization has undertaken, McIntyre and team have been there “doing the plumbing.” Rarely does McIntyre’s work cross over into anything described as mechanical engineering, but he credits his undergraduate education for helping him in everything he does.
“The biggest thing I took away from school was the thoughtful and process-based ways to solve problems,” he said. “And that problem solving I’ve used my entire career: what are we trying to define, what are the requirements, and how do we work our way through them. Just that process ability.
“Because in every class I took, whether it was heat transfer or thermodynamics or any others, it was always a process of the steps you need to take to get to the solution.”