Meet the GLTApril 2, 2017
Andrew Kirk, Global Operations Director
Where are you from?
I grew up in Melbourne in Australia, but moved out for university. Since then I’ve lived in Canberra (university), Adelaide (research), Sydney (work), and now Dublin, where I’ve been for the past year or so.
What is your role at 180 Degrees?
I’m a Director of Global Operations, which is the role responsible for coordinating between our individual branches and the resources we have on the Global Leadership Team. I’m one of ten people in this role, and I support all the branches in the UK, France, and Italy. The job involves a lot of video calls with branch presidents, so I’m certainly glad to live in a similar time zone to my branches!
Does the Global Operations Team have any specific goals for the upcoming year?
I’d say our big goal for the year is working to build a real sense of global community between all the 180 Degrees branches. We want to make sure that all of our branches are able to draw on all the incredible resources we have around the world, both in other branches and within the Global Leadership Team, and we really want every one of our consultants to know they really are part of something huge that extends well beyond their individual branch. Elsewhere in the Operations Team we also have members who are planning to extend the 180 Degrees model beyond universities into new talent pools (we call them the Special Projects team, which sounds really cool and top secret). I’m not on that team but I’m really excited to see where they go with it!
Have you been involved in 180 Degrees before?
Back during university, I worked with the Australian National University branch of 180 Degrees, first for two semesters as a Consultant and then as a Consulting Director. Unfortunately, I had to leave when I graduated, but even that couldn’t keep me away, and now I’m back!
What made want to join the GLT?
I really enjoyed my work with 180 Degrees during university, and was blown away by the chance I had to make such a meaningful impact. As a Consulting Director, I oversaw an internal review project that our branch undertook where we went back and reviewed all the work we’d done since our founding. This meant going back to old clients and seeing that they’d actually implemented our ideas, which was a really powerful experience for me.
After graduating, I knew I really wanted to stay involved in socially impactful work, but it fell by the wayside as I tried to adjust to my new career and my new cities. One night, literally while I was looking for an organisation like 180 that I could volunteer with, I received an email inviting me to apply to the Global Leadership Team, since my email address was still in the system from my time as a Consulting Director. I started the application that night.
What do you do outside of 180?
In my ‘real life’ (as I always tend to put it to people in 180) I’m a Data Science Consultant with Deloitte Analytics in Dublin. I’ve always been a maths and stats nerd, and this job gives me a chance to apply that to new and interesting problems all the time. What I do specifically changes a lot from project to project, but lately I’ve been working a lot on automated systems to detect credit card fraud, which has been really interesting. As an undergraduate, I performed research for the Australian military on artificial intelligence for suspicious behaviour detection, so this has been a natural transition for me.
How do you like to spend your free time?
In my free time, I read a lot of books, all non-fiction. A few years ago, a friend and I challenged each other to a competition to see who could read the most books (he only reads non-fiction as well). He was moving overseas, so every few days we’d message each other our reviews of whatever book we’d just finished, which was a great way to keep in touch. We’ve kept it going ever since (he’s won every year, unfortunately), and we’ve even started a website to publish our book reviews.
What’s your favourite book that you’ve reviewed?
That’s a tricky one, because most of my favourite books I’ve actively been putting off reviewing because of the effort. My favourite book is probably Gödel, Escher, Bach by Douglas Hofstadter, which is completely mind-blowing and indescribable and makes you think about absolutely everything, which of course makes it really hard to write a review of. The best book that I’ve actually reviewed would probably be Command and Control by Eric Schlosser, which is a history of nuclear weapons in the United States. I thought that it would be something interesting but esoteric, not too deep, the kind of thing to read in an airport or something, but it absolutely blew my mind. It’s all about systems engineering and the question of ‘how safe can these things ever be?’, which seems like a quaint little piece of Cold War history until you realise that there are still tens of thousands of these things around the world, almost none of them receiving the proper maintenance they need. It’s a really well written story, but it also had a really sobering impact on the way I see the world (and please don’t remind me how the topic was dealt with in the Republican primary debates).
What are you reading now?
Right now, I’m reading The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James, a history of the Haitian Revolution, which was actually the only successful slave revolt in history (at least if you define ‘success’ as an independent country). It’s always great reading about these bits of history that are so important yet never taught in school. I’m only about fifty pages from the end though, so it’ll be something completely different by the time this is published!
Are there any fun facts about you that you feel everyone should know?
I like endurance sports to clear my mind and relax, and I’ve run three marathons (so far!). I’m also a fan of cross-country skiing when I get the chance, but not downhill skiing. Every time I’ve tried downhill skiing it’s ended with me taking out at least three kids (no serious injuries), so I’ve decided to be responsible and stop trying.