Spotlight on Andrew Hyman

5 June 2013

Andrew Hyman

This week the spotlight is on Andrew Hyman, Executive Head of Insight, Development and Alumni Relations Office.

What is your role and what does it involve?

My new department, the Development and Alumni Relations Office (DARO) is entering an ambitious phase redefining what philanthropy means at UCL.

As part of the initiative, I have joined as Executive Head of Insight, which is an exciting, brand new role that brings together the Research and Database and Information Services teams into an Insight function.

The focus of my role is developing and delivering an insight strategy for DARO that puts data at the heart of decision making, using insight and analysis to understand the needs of our stakeholders and supporters, and using data in a smarter, more strategic manner.

How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?

In one sense, I am brand new at UCL having joined just a few weeks ago! However, it feels like coming home given that this is actually my third time at the university – I was an undergraduate in the Geography department in the mid-1990s and then returned a couple of years later and spent six months working in the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA).

I joined DARO in mid-May from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) where I was Head of Commercial Analytics for UK Pharmaceuticals. I also have a decade's experience of  analytics in the retail sector both on the client side at Tesco and as a consultant.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

I am really proud of my heritage as a (UCL-trained!) geographer and have been fortunate to be able to use spatial analysis and visualisation throughout my career, and in volunteering work, to generate insight from data that drives real impact.

I have used geographic analysis in many ways to generate recommendations based on an understanding of store catchment areas, where to locate stores or run trials, how to deliver grocery home shopping orders most efficiently or how sales vary in different locations.

I have also run workshops to help pupils at my children’s primary school better understand their local area and cultural diversity. The kids loved making maps in the school hall using toilet paper for roads and gym mats for lakes before being able to interact with digital maps on my computer!

Tell us about a project you are working on now which is top of you to-do list?

Coming into a brand new role, there are so many exciting opportunities to tackle. Rather than focus on a specific project, I’d like to share a poem that I heard from Stephen Few at a seminar at SAS on Visual Analytics that captures the essence of the opportunity:

Upon this gifted age, in its dark hour,
Rains from the sky a meteoric shower
Of facts…they lie, unquestioned, uncombined.

Wisdom enough to leech us of our ill
Is daily spun; but there exists no loom
To weave it into fabric.

‘The Huntsman, What Quarry?’, 1939, Edna St. Vincent Millay

Although this poem is almost 75 years old, it neatly encapsulates the challenge and opportunity we have in 2013.

The top priority is for me to work with my colleagues in DARO and across the academic community at UCL to discover and learn how to operate the loom that enables information to be woven into meaningful insights that will drive the success of our new fundraising campaign.

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

AlbumDance on a Moonbeam by Bill Crofut which is an enchanting, gloriously illustrated album that combines folk music/traditional songs with poetry and quotes from Shakespeare. It features Dave Brubeck’s talented son Chris whose music I love and led me to discover this hidden gem!

FilmGood Will Hunting (which was released when I lived in Boston for two years!)

Book – Haven’t read a novel in years – most of my reading these days is to my four and eight-year-old kids. I do enjoy Bill Bryson’s books and Notes From a Small Island was a very amusing read while I was living in America!

What is your favourite joke (pre-watershed)?

Not sure I have a favourite joke, but this one tickles me as a geographer: "Old geographers never die, they just lose their bearings!"

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

My great grandfather, Louis – I have recordings made in the 1970s by a family member on reel-to-reel tapes of his life in Russia and how he moved to the UK, settling first in the East End and then moving out to Golders Green.

I never met him, but my father was really close to his grandfather and I feel a real connection through the tapes that bring his experience to life. I’d love to have been able to meet him and hear his stories in person.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be ambitious, but realistic – I think it is important to strive to achieve one’s dreams, but when you are young you can be quite unrealistic about how long things take.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

I am over 6ft tall now, but as a baby even the smallest baby-gros swamped me. You would never believe I was a tiny tiny tot when I was born if you look at me now!

What is your favourite place?

It has to be Boston, MA, USA. I lived there for two years and adore the city.

I have great memories of the architecture of the buildings, sailing on the Charles River with MIT on one side and downtown Boston on the other and sitting in the bleachers watching a very exciting RedSox baseball game on a lovely warm night that went to extra innings so we were there till after midnight!