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What is a Data Analysis Australia Consultant?

John Henstridge

Many years ago when I first joined a commercial company, business cards had been prepared for me.  They just gave the company name and "John Henstridge, Consultant".  When I gave someone my card their immediate question was "but what do you actually do?".  The term consultant applied to jobs ranging from selling cosmetics in Myers through to political advisors.  Taking action, I had my card changed to "John Henstridge, Statistical Consultant."

When I set up Data Analysis Australia in 1988 I was faced with the question of how to describe roles.  I chose the term "Consultant Statistician".  The word Consultant had stopped being the noun and had become the adjective to describe how staff worked, not who they were.  As Data Analysis Australia has grown, we also have the titles Consultant Mathematician, Consultant Survey Researcher and Consultant Software Engineer.  

Some years later, at a workshop organised for professional consultants, the discussion seemed to get lost in the question "What is a consultant?".  Many definitions were being canvassed, ranging from "someone who helps" through to "agent for change".  None of these seemed right.  It struck me that at Data Analysis Australia we don't have that problem of identity.  We know who we are - statisticians, mathematicians, researchers and programmers.  Consulting is how we practice our professions but it is the knowledge and expertise which we can use in a consulting context that defines us and provide

That continues to today.  Data Analysis Australia ensures that staff have - and continually extend - their expertise in statistics, mathematics, surveys and IT.  While further study and attendance at professional conferences is part of this, our clients continually present challenges that prevent us from resting on what we know.  One of the features - I would say attractions - of our consulting is that while much of each project may be standard, part will always be new.  Our ability to handle the new comes from the depth and breadth of our knowledge.

We group our technical expertise into seven broad areas.  Each area requires particular skills and at the same time can be applied across a range of applications.  The principles of surveys can be the same applied to surveying people or to sampling industrial products.  Forecasting is required for both the economy and in control systems.  Techniques of statistical analysis can be applied almost everywhere.

As a final point, some have questioned whether a Consultant Statistician or Mathematician can properly work across a range of application areas.  Our strong view is that by crossing application areas our people can bring a surprising range of possible solutions to problems.  This thinking outside the box illustrates that our consultants are not limited by traditional boundaries.

So, to sum up,  what is a Data Analysis Australia consultant?  Clearly someone who first and foremost knows his or her subject.  But also someone who applies this knowledge in a range of situations and, of course,  a person who is solution and client oriented.

For more information regarding our areas of expertise, see Our Services.

June 2010