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A day in the life of a Technical Lead – David Friggens

Infometrics welcomes David Friggens to the IT side of our team. David is a data analyst with a broad range of experience. Previously he worked at MBIE, Ministry of Education, and University of Waikato.

We chatted to David about what a day in his life is like…

Bio – David Friggens

Studied at: Victoria University of Wellington, PhD in Logic and Computation (undergraduate majors in Computer Science and Mathematics)

Resides in: Kāpiti Coast

Jacqui Clarke: Can you describe a typical day at work?  

David Friggens: At the high level I’ve got two typical days. Three days a week I start with an hour-long train ride, where I’ll usually catch up on some work-related reading, or some coding before the walk to the office. Two days a week I’m rushing around getting the kids ready and off to school before I sit down at my desk at home. Whichever desk I’m at my days are similarly varied – writing/fixing code and graphs, troubleshooting IT issues, writing emails, having meetings, and so on. It’s nice to have music playing out loud at home, rather than on headphones. 

Jacqui: What are you working on now?  

David: One of my main projects at the moment is a new Small Area Framework – an addition planned for the Regional Economic Profile early next year. It’s been interesting to explore how the population and economy break down into these much smaller areas, and how the new “Statistical Area 2” units differ from the old “Area Units” (see Chart of the Month). 

Jacqui: What have been your most rewarding work experiences?

David: I like solving hard technical challenges, particularly improving automation and efficiency. In a previous job I had a daily data processing program that took 14 hours to run, and I managed to rewrite it so it only took 2 hours. I also really like to make systems simpler and easier to understand – both data visualisations and user interfaces in general. Often these tend not to be very technical, but require thinking in a different way. The most effusive feedback I’ve received was when I worked in a university library, with a catalogue system that bizarrely didn’t say explicitly how many copies of a book were available on the shelf, which is the key fact most people would want to know. I modified the interface to include this and discovered I had solved a major source of frustration.

Jacqui: What do you enjoy doing when not at work?

David: We’ve got three young children and they take up most of my time – everyone says to treasure this stage because it goes so fast and it certainly does feel that it’s slipping by quickly! I’ve been a member of my local Toastmasters club for a few years now. I’ve entered and won a couple of club and area speech contests, but it’s the regular meetings with the chance to practice a range of skills in a safe and friendly environment that keep me going along. Aside from that, I’ve been trying to make more time to read novels, and I occasionally do some data analysis or visualisation for fun on my blog

Jacqui: What is an intriguing fact about you?

David: Men’s socks tend to come in sizes “6-10” and “11-13”. I’m acutely aware of this as my feet are size 10½ – it’s not uncommon to find that socks are slightly too small or slightly too large. On the positive side my feet are almost exactly 30cm long, so they make handy impromptu measuring devices.

Jacqui: Thank you David, for taking the time to chat to us.

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