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‘I’m a big believer in transparency as a way of catalysing improvements’: meet incoming 360Giving trustee Dr Danil Mikhailov

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Over the coming months, we are delighted to be welcoming six new trustees onto our board. One of them is Dr Danil Mikhailov, Founder and Head of Wellcome Data Labs at the Wellcome Trust. In this post, we speak to Danil about creating Wellcome Data Labs, data maturity and what excites him about joining 360Giving. You can get to know all our new trustees in our Trustees’ Week 2020 blogpost.

Hello Danil! Where are you calling from?

I’m calling from my office shed! I bought it in February just before lockdown and I was lucky to miss a long waiting list.

Could you tell us about your current role as Head of Wellcome Data Labs?

I’ve been at The Wellcome Trust for 8 years now and I started as Head of Digital, creating the first digital strategy for the Trust. After that, we looked for other opportunities which technology could offer. The obvious gap was data. Wellcome is a major funder in the world rankings of philanthropy so we have a big influence externally in our domain of life sciences. I think it almost gives us a responsibility to be evidence-based in our decision making, and in the outcomes of our decisions. 

An obvious target was to improve data within the Trust. We created Wellcome Data Labs as an interdisciplinary team which combines multiple perspectives on data under one roof, including data scientists, software developers and social scientists. That allowed us to get some traction on how we manage data internally and how it’s made available externally. 

 We’re on a big journey, as many organisations are in terms of data maturity. We’re not there yet! But compared to where we were four years ago, we now have a much better handle on our own internal data. On top of that we’ve built a set of exciting tools to help analysts to make decisions. Some of the tools use off-the-shelf technology like Tableau. We’ve also created our own tools that don’t exist on the market which we have open-sourced, and made freely available for others to use.

 

How did you first hear about 360Giving? 

I was in touch with 360Giving from when you launched: an amazingly exciting and a very, very needed project. We need, I think, transparency in the system of philanthropy and charity giving, to see what is happening with the money and where it’s going. 

I’m a big believer in transparency being a great antidote to things which don’t go right, and a way of catalysing improvements. 

 

What excites you about joining the board? 

The strategy. The focus of Goal 1 – getting access to the data – is important. But of course, that is not enough. You need to make sure decisions are actually made in a way that is informed by that data. I think the focus of the strategy on that next phase – on how you encourage charities and philanthropies to make decisions with that data, and make them data informed – that’s the bit that excites me.

Anyone who works in this world knows that, while it can be difficult, it’s much easier to get data well governed, created and shared than it is to change human behaviour and make sure that data is used for decisions. I think anything we can do to help grantmakers and charities do that will be hugely welcome.

I’m excited to join and be part of the trustee team. Can’t wait! 

 

Danil will join 360Giving as a trustee, in December 2020. You can get to know all our incoming trustees in our Trustees’ Week 2020 blogpost.