James Court-Smith: EFS veteran, data scientist, runner, cat herder
By Vlad Levitsky
How and when did you get involved in the movement?
I got involved by contributing several case studies to the original report to government in 2009. Shortly after that I stepped out of Gallup to start my analytics business and strengthened my links and contributions to EFS as a way of staying connected to Engagement.
I've been involved in half a dozen TAGs over the years, was involved in The Evidence report, and wrote the latest update Further Evidence. Over the last few years, I've chaired the Steering Group, and joined the board when the CIPD acquired EFS.
What is your day job?
I'm a data scientist and have been running my analytics firm Stillae Ltd for eleven years. Stillae comes from the latin root meaning drops, as a core focus is distilling meaning and value from data.
My day job is all about measurement and evidence, and my background is in research (qual and quant). I use these where I can in EFS activities, for example in quantifying the value of Engagement. I'm proud to be part of EFS, and grateful that it has provided so many opportunities to meet and collaborate with outstanding people.
What is a particularly memorable EFS experience from your early years?
In those early years we ran annual conferences using content from our TAGs rather than by inviting well known speakers. I was both a cat to be herded, and an amateur herder myself in those circumstances
What has been a highlight in the past 12 months?
Running! Every day, bar Sunday. It's been a revelation and is now a well embedded habit ... I'm finally happy to call myself a runner. Not a competitive one, not an outstanding one, but a runner, nonetheless.
What are you looking forward to most in the next 12 months?
Restaurant dining, at long last, post-second-dose.
What gives you joy?
Solving problems, answering a question that has others stumped. But only when the answer matters to those asking the question, in other words: only when the answer will shape a decision, will make a difference. Whether that is through sophisticated statistical modelling, or simple triangulation, what matters is not the method but the result being valued. Interestingly, puzzles do nothing for me, probably because they are games and the answer does not matter.
You’ve travelled back in time. What would you tell your 10-year younger self?