Get to know James Borlase, GDI Fellow (Auckland Branch)
Updated: Jan 13, 2022
We recently sat down to chat with James Borlase, who has been promoted to the GDI leadership team as a Fellow (Project Leader). James hails from the beautiful city of Auckland and studied for a double degree in Computer Science & Commerce at the University of Otago. James has extensive data science experience at EY, Compac and currently as the Head of Data & Insights at Serato, the world's best DJ software! Outside of work, James enjoys camping and exploring New Zealand's beaches, as well as keeping fit by running. We are excited to welcome James to the GDI leadership team as a Fellow! Congratulations James!
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 Auckland for the first 18 years of my life, before venturing down to Dunedin for university. At university, I completed a Bachelors of Commerce majoring in Finance and a Bachelors of Science majoring in Computer Science before returning to Auckland to work.
Originally in life, I wanted to be a pilot, but the daunting cost of studies and the passion I had for computer science pulled me away.
Where do you currently work and what does your role involve on a day to day basis?
I currently work at Serato as the Head of Data & Insights. The data team is new to Serato and the role involves ensuring Serato can make the best decisions it can with the data it has - and it has a lot of data!
The Insights team works with a broad range of stakeholders in the business and because of this, our work can be varied. One day can be spent creating a machine learning model to better understand and communicate with our customers, another could be providing insights to our executive team on an upcoming decision.
How did you hear about the Good Data Institute and what made you interested in getting involved?
I first heard about the GDI on LinkedIn where I saw some old school friends were volunteers. After reading about their experiences and the work GDI did, I was eager to join and put my skills to good use in helping out NFPs.
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 at the GDI, I have worked on projects at Red Cross and Everybody Eats.
The work we did at the Red Cross was centred on their digital marketing reporting. Their current dashboards were not set up with a NFP or the Red Cross’ in mind. This led to the Red Cross not understanding the dashboards and failing to make the most of the data coming from their website.
We at the GDI helped by working closely with the Red Cross to understand what mattered to them most. We then developed our own dashboards for the Red Cross that would be relevant to them as well as easier to understand.
What I have found most rewarding is seeing the excitement when we show people data in a way they understand and which allows their imagination to run with possibilities. By helping NFPs see things in a new light we are helping the way they improve other people’s lives.
What are you most excited about as you move into the Fellow role going forward? What types of NFPs and causes interest you most?
I’m most excited about being able to help other GDI volunteers get the rewarding feeling of seeing NFPs get the most out of their data.
If I had to choose - Health and Environmental NFPs are the causes which I am most passionate about.
Lastly, what are your favourite hobbies? What’s your favourite way to spend a day off?
Running is my big focus at the moment. Last year I really got into running and completed my first marathon, and this year I completed the Tarawera Ultramarathon. It is fair to say I am pretty hooked on it at the moment!
When I’m not running - you might see me out on the golf course, or slicing balls at the driving range.