Applying the ‘New Normal’ house buying – an analyst’s perspective

Tim McKenzie – Analyst @ Wood for Trees

The ‘new normal’ – a simple phrase that changed our lives. Fortunately for me, the ‘new normal’ happened to coincide with my first week at my new job. . .

After a decade with my previous employer (also in the charity space), it had become clear to me that I needed to take on a new challenge. I knew I wanted to delve deeper into my craft; Business Intelligence, however all of the generic roles being returned in my job searches didn’t excite me. Then one day something stood out, a Power BI Analyst at an organisation called ‘Wood for Trees’. After reading the job description, it felt like a perfect blend of my skills and background.

Ironically, the timing seemed perfect! My skills had developed to the stage where I felt confident, my kids were out of new-born phase, my partner was just finishing cancer treatment, and my headspace was ready for change. Covid-19 lockdown occurred 7 days into my new role.

Almost immediately after my induction and getting to know the team, I bunkered down at home to pick up this new role. Fortunately for me, it was in a sector I knew and using tools I had confidence with.

At Wood for Trees, my primary focus is to help develop ‘InsightHub’; a powerful, online analysis toolkit for the charity sector. Many exciting challenges lay ahead, and entering the organisation when I did allowed me to delve deeply into the product and make some fundamental changes to the back-end engine that feeds the modelling processes.

The back-bone of InsightHub is Wood for Tree’s Core Charity Data Model (CCDM), a schema that has been structured from years of experience delivering insight to the sector. The concepts were all in place, and the internal analysis teams were starting to realise some of the benefits of having a unified schema for analysis. This means that our clients are now able to get their insights far quicker and a greater deal of consistently.

The lock-down itself, as well as moving jobs outside of Bristol made me question why I live in a city. The ‘new normal’ forced greater flexibility in working practices and has turned many professional heads to the allure of country living (providing there’s good WiFi).

So, what does an Analyst do when they want to buy a house? They build a reporting suite of course!

Moonlighting from my day job building InsightHub, I created HouseBuyingHub (remember I’m an analyst, and not a marketeer). I ingested public data from many industry sites to gain a suite of all previous house transactions in the UK, the house price index to temper to real-term values, plus Ofsted data to know which schools are good for my children, whilst also trialling some design decisions for InsightHub at the same time.

If you’re interested in getting access to this model, please get in touch! Here’s a sneak peak at some of the pages I’ve created to help me understand prices, how long people are staying in their properties to give me a sense of how much people like the area, plus a little helper to calculate my mortgage requirements (note – the sliders are not set at my personal financial settings).

Many interesting opportunities are coming from InsightHub and Wood for Tree’s Core Charity Data Model, I’m really enjoying what I’m doing, and I feel more content at work than I have for a few years now.

I’m still looking forward to the day the team can meet up for the induction pub session to properly welcome myself and others into the team, but in some ways, the ‘new normal’ has been a welcome change of pace.