Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Gearing Up for the APRA International Conference -- Andillon Hackney

We are hosting Andillon Hackney on the APRA MidSouth blog today.  Andillon is Director of Development Research at University of California-San Diego.  She is also treasurer of CARA’s (California Advancement Researchers Association) board.  Andillon is speaking on Relationship Management at the upcoming APRA International Conference. 

APRA MidSouth:  Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you came to the field of prospect research.

AH:  Like many prospect researchers I came to this field by chance. I was trying to break in as a screenwriter in Los Angeles and needed a part time job, fell into a job in development and was tasked with writing bios, then research, then database conversion. I remember doing complex stock analysis and thinking wow, this is cool, what kind of crazy jobs is this? Finally, I figured out that maybe prospect research was where I needed to be. It was certainly less tumultuous then the entertainment business. Eleven years later, here I am.  I worked in two small shops, where I wore the hat of researcher, prospect manager, grateful patient screening maven. It was a big surprise to me that I would understand ‘data’ to any degree – given my education and life experience had all screamed “arts”. But the one thing that really sold me on this field was the camaraderie. So many researchers mentored me, encouraged me, and helped me along despite my many dumb questions. I’m so grateful to them, and so happy to be in this field.

APRA MidSouth:  What are some innovative trends taking place in Relationship Management?

AH:  I think infographics and data visualization are having tremendous impact on how we can present the story of a portfolio, for example. We have been recently using infographics for our overall screening analysis and the development officers have been incredibly receptive. Their eyes just light up, so I think we will keep trying to find ways to tell a story with our data in elegant and innovative ways.

APRA MidSouth:  What resources (books, blogs, trendsetters, etc.) are informing your work of late?

AH:  I like Jason’s (McNeil) blog. It’s my once a week inspiration, definitely recommend it to anyone in our field. We also had a class with Beth Bandy on International Research which made me realize how much there is still to learn about finding information abroad. She’s great. She recommended a book by Nicholas Shaxson, called Treasure Islands, about off-shore banking, which to be honest is depressingly, eye opening. If you are doing any international research or just want to understand money and globalization, it would be a good book to check out. We’re also exploring relationship mapping vendors. We haven’t decided on any but we feel that more and more development officers need to know connections and if technology can make that faster for us, all the better.

APRA MidSouth:  What challenges are you facing with/in Relationship Management and how are you overcoming them?

AH:  Relevance. We have great metrics in place, but we are striving to find a way to take the temperature of a portfolio and to visually represent that in a snapshot. You can have a ton of data points, select one here or there to highlight, but really what does the whole picture look like and where does it need to evolve to? That’s the challenge. I think we are almost there, but that’s why datavisualization tools are so critical. We can say it but there’s so much more impact when you see it.

APRA MidSouth:  What are the things that will surprise us in Relationship Management over the next few years?  What are you most looking forward to?

AH:  I’m hoping that technology/database/resources will make it easier for us to pinpoint problems faster and more efficiently and make it possible for development officers to react faster to the ‘climate’ of their portfolio. I know some shops have a good grasp of their pipeline, but I foresee more real time pipeline status checks in our future. After eleven years, I see more and more intersections with research, prospect management/relationship management and analytics than ever before. We’ll find new ways to do things and because we share, we’ll all be the better for it.        

Thanks for being a part of the interviews, Andillon!  To hear more from her, she is presenting, “Dynamic Portfolios:  A Research Perspective” – on Thursday, August 8th at the 26th Annual APRA International Conference. 

Melissa Sridaromont, Secretary, APRA MidSouth

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