Spotlight on... Sam-Aaron Butler

This week we talk to Sam-Aaron, a Data and Insight Analyst in UCL’s Planning Division. Sam tells us about his work on the new National League Tables dashboard, released to help departments better understand their rankings.

What is your role and what does it involve?

I’m a Data and Insight Analyst in the Planning Division. Our role is to present data in accessible and visually clear dashboards in Tableau to help UCL answer questions about research, students, finance, space and people.

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

I officially started in April of this year but, having just had a baby at the end of March, you won’t have seen me around until May! Previously I worked as a Business Analyst at a Housing Association in South London.

What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?

Maybe a touch of recency bias but I’m really proud of and excited by the new National League Tables Tableau dashboard we released in November. It explores our rank in the Times, Guardian and Complete University Guides, both overall and at subject level, and relative to other institutions and internally. We hope it will help departments to understand how each League Table is compiled, and to see which of our competitors in the Russell group and beyond are sector-leading for each subject.

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

The next planned dashboard release is a Global League Tables dashboard similar to the National League Table dashboard, which will explore our ranking in the five major international League Tables. We co-create all our dashboards with the people who will be using them, so if you have questions about international league tables that you think our dashboard should answer, please get in touch with me or the team on dataandinsight [at] ucl.ac (p) uk

What is your favourite album, film and novel?

Album: Illmatic by Nas (I wrote my undergraduate dissertation largely about this album).

Film: The Godfather.

Novel: Normally I’d say 100 Years of Solitude or something by Graham Greene but since it’s December - A Christmas Carol.

Who would be your dream dinner guests?

Lenin - I can’t help but talk politics and there’s been no better political mind.

Fidel Castro - my inspiration.

Serena Williams - amazing athlete, also I’ve met her sister and it would be nice to be able to say I’ve met both.

Javier Marias - Because very little makes me happier than conversations about books.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Be nicer than is necessary.

What would it surprise people to know about you?

It normally annoys people to know I worked for a few years as a street fundraiser but it often surprises them to know I met my wife on the job by trying (unsuccessfully) to get her to donate to the Red Cross!

What is your favourite place?

Madrid - my ambition is to one day live there and do research on 20th Century Spain (so if anyone has any advice about transitioning into academia or on the subject please let me know!)


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