Neil Spencer, Statisticians for Society scoping committee member

Neil Spencer is a Chartered Statistician and Director of the University of Hertfordshire's Statistical Services and Consultancy Unit.

What does the role involve? 
Talking to charities who have approached the RSS for help through S4S to find out more about their statistical needs. This process will often help them to better understand what they need and how a statistician could help. We then put together a description of the project so that potential S4S volunteers will understand what is involved. Once volunteers have come forward, we help to work out who would be a best match to the project.

At the end of the project we may also be involved in a review process to see how things went from the charity’s point of view. As part of the Scoping Committee, we help the RSS staff members to work out how to manage the scheme in the best way. 

Why did you choose this role? 
When S4S started, I thought that it was a great idea but knew that I did not have enough time to become a volunteer working with charities. An appeal was put out for people with appropriate experience to join the scoping committee and, as I had been undertaking consultancy work for over 20 years and been running a consultancy unit at my university, I thought that this was an area where I could help. 

Has the experience been valuable for your professional development? 
Despite already having experience before S4S, volunteering for this role has certainly helped my wider professional development. Talking to organisations with statistical needs is always illuminating but so has been the experience of discussing statistical consulting with other members of the scoping committee. So often we statisticians find ourselves working alone or in small teams so to have the chance to network with others conducting similar work is always beneficial. 

What have you enjoyed most about volunteering with the RSS? 
The networking with other statisticians. The RSS has always managed to be a friendly, supportive body, in my experience. Hierarchy and titles are kept off the agenda so everyone has a chance to contribute and be valued.  

What advice would you give to anyone interested in volunteering with the RSS? 
Go for it. There are many different ways of volunteering so hopefully there is a way in which anyone can get involved, no matter what career stage you are at or how deep your statistical knowledge. 

What’s next? 
I do intend to carry on with this role as I feel I am making a positive contribution. As to other roles, I enjoy my involvement with the RSS so much that I am also a member of the Conference Board and Vice Chair of the Business and Industrial Section. I probably ought to leave it at that for now!

The Statisticians for Society Scoping Committee is looking for new members - find out more and how to apply