RSS former Council member, treasurer and creator of our longest-running short training course, Ed Swires-Hennessy, has announced he is retiring from running the course at the Society.
Anyone who has benefited from taking an RSS short courses has Ed to thank for kick-starting our training programme back in 2003 with his ever-popular course, Presenting Data. Since then, the course has run every year, usually at the Society HQ in London, but it’s also been taken to various locations around the UK to deliver the course directly to organisations.
It’s been so popular with delegates over the years that in 2013, a book based on the course, titled 'Presenting Data: How to Communicate your Message Effectively' was published. In 2016, the RSS worked with Ed to produce an online version of the course, for those unable to travel to the RSS in person. Through these media, hundreds of people have been rigorously trained in best practice when presenting tables of data, big numbers, graphs and charts.
A consultant statistician with particular interests in surveys and dissemination, Ed has previously worked on monitoring the Census in Albania (2011) and has taught dissemination topics to the government statistical offices in countries in the Western Balkans as well as investigative journalists in the UK. At the RSS, Ed served on Council from 2001 to 2007 and spent several years as Honorary Officer for membership and was Honorary Treasurer until 2016.
Ed was on RSS Council when former RSS Director General Ivor Goddard proposed that the Society start running courses. ‘The proposal was that we would get 30 people on each course and make a fortune,’ he remembers. ‘I objected noting I could not cope with 30 on a course but Council supported Ivor. Sadly, the first year cost the Society £96,000!’ Nevertheless, Ed volunteered and the Presenting Data course has become a key part of our annual programme. Our offering has grown enormously (and thankfully, more profitably) since those early days. We now offer 24 courses at various levels in statistics from introductory level through to advanced data analysis – as well as a plethora of software training courses in Python and R.
Ed’s Presenting Data course is very much aimed at non-experts and often sees delegates from backgrounds as diverse as small businesses, charities and local governments in his classes. Many RSS staff members have taken the course. Feedback from delegates often focused on the care and attention that Ed would give students. One, who attended his course (held virtually) earlier this year, wrote: ‘He took a great deal of trouble to write me the most helpful feedback imaginable. I really appreciate that he even took the time to give me printscreens of examples. This kind of feedback is above and beyond.’
Everyone at the RSS who’s worked with Ed in the past – in particular the Training team – would like to offer a huge ‘thanks’ for his contribution to RSS courses for the past 18 years. However, we're pleased to say it's not 'goodbye' yet, as Ed is staying on as a director of RSS (Services) Limited - which delivers our training programme.
Presenting Data is still available to take online and the eponymous book is still available for those who wish to improve their data presentation skills.