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Get to know: Hamish McLean, GDI Fellow (Melbourne Branch)

We recently sat down with the talented Hamish McLean, who has been promoted to the role of Fellow at the Good Data Institute to hear about his background and involvement with GDI! Hamish studied for a Bachelor of Commerce (Finance and Economics) at the University of Melbourne, where he was a Dean's list recipient (top 3% of the cohort) and Scholar of Ormond College. Outside of his day job with EY, Hamish has worked on two GDI projects so far, with the Pathways Foundation and Progressive Shopper, and has a particular interest in combating mental health and homelessness challenges. In his spare time, Hamish is a keen squash player and is even involved in bringing a play Louis Nowra’s Cosi, to life! As a valued member of the GDI network, we are thrilled to promote Hamish to the role of Fellow! Congratulations Hamish!

Hamish McLean
Hamish McLean

1. Tell us a little about your background. Where did you grow up and what did you want to do when you grew up?

I grew up in Melbourne and in fact lived in the same house until I first moved out. Melbourne is a fantastic city full of sport, good food and great local parks so I’ve been lucky enough to spend lots of time here.

My career aspirations certainly changed a lot as I grew up. Like all Victorians, from a young age I aspired to put on my team’s guernsey and play AFL. Robert Harvey was my favorite player and I was keen to follow in his footsteps and perhaps lead St Kilda to a well-needed second Grand Final win.

2. Where do you currently work and what does your role involve on a day to day basis?

I’m currently a Consultant at EY within the Business Consulting (Technology Risk) team. We’re a relatively large team and it’s great working amongst such a fun group of people within a fast-growing field of work.

On a day-to-day basis, we talk a lot with clients to understand how data flows around their organization and how that data is managed and protected. Cybersecurity risks are an ongoing concern for all Australian and Global companies, and so we work with clients to provide trust that their systems align with appropriate resiliency and privacy standards.

3. How did you hear about the Good Data Institute and what made you interested in getting involved?

I first heard about the GDI in the middle of last year (2020) and started volunteering shortly thereafter. For me, the GDI was the perfect opportunity to put my data skills into action and advance social causes within our community that I care about. I’ve always thought how lucky I am to have access to such a great education and the GDI is a fantastic opportunity to pay it forward.

4. Tell us a little bit about your experiences at GDI so far! What types of projects have you worked on and what have you found most rewarding about them?

So far I’ve worked on two projects: the Pathways Foundation and Progressive Shopper.

The Pathways Foundation is a NFP dedicated to providing contemporary right of passage camps to young Australians. As part of this project we helped the Foundation engage its database of historic volunteers and camp attendees. This involved cleaning and validating an extensive list of emails as well as building a dashboard to visualise their reach across Australia. It’s been a pleasure working with the team (shoutout to Andy and Berry!) and the passion of Peita, our Pathways Foundation point of contact, really helped us to realise the impact of our work.

Progressive Shopper is a new tool looking to reveal the causes and politicians that everyday companies donate to. This allows consumers to readily engage with companies supporting the causes they care about. This work was helping to parse existing data into a format readable by their developing API. For me, the joy of this project was getting stuck into lines of code and being clever about how to maximise the final dataset despite many fields of missing data.

5. What are you most excited about as you move into the Fellow role going forward? What types of NFPs and causes interest you most?

First of all, I’m most excited about the opportunity to step up and take a more active leadership role within the GDI community. I’m looking forward to managing the end-to-end project lifecycle and maximizing the experience for both our NFP clients and the community of GDI volunteers. Second, I’m hoping to have the opportunity to produce some thought leadership pieces to work towards making the GDI an essential part our society’s data conversation.

The two causes that interest me the most are mental health and homelessness. Coming out of the pandemic, I think mental wellbeing is at the forefront of people’s minds. Unfortunately however, this hasn’t always been the case and I think there’s still an existing undercurrent of silent mental health sufferers. Homelessness is another cause that’s come to the public eye recently. There’s some fantastic on the groundwork being performed by NFPs such as BackPack Bed and I’d be interested to approach them and see if there’s scope for the GDI to support their mission.

6. Lastly, what are your favourite hobbies? What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?

On my days off I’m a keen squash player and am also quickly becoming obsessed with golf. Whilst both operate at different exercise intensities, they’re a great chance to catch up with friends and are best complemented by a coffee or drink afterwards.

Over the last six months I’ve also been working hard on producing a play. The talented cast and crew have spent numerous hours bringing the Australian playwright Louis Nowra’s Cosi to life. Naturally this has run into some difficulties with the lockdown restrictions, but I’m hoping we can get on stage and perform as soon as possible.

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