Witad Awards 2020: Rising Star (End-User)—Charlie Beeson, Man Group

Man Group, Witad 2020

On the face of it, astrophysics and financial services might not have a lot in common. But when Charlie Beeson went to work at Man Group with an MSc in physics with astronomy, she discovered a number of parallels. “It’s less of a jump than it appears, to be honest. I was running Python scripts to analyze large time-series data about asteroids,” she says. “You swap the asteroids for financial data.”

Beeson had already taught herself Python while completing her master’s at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. She was using data for her thesis that came from amateur astronomers all over the world. “One of the challenges I had in analyzing all of this data [was that] it came from so many different sources, which I now equate to our long list of different data vendors that can represent data in different formats and styles,” she says.

Her area of interest involved near-Earth objects, searching for asteroids in images, such as supernovae, taken by astronomers. “At Man Group, I was applying similar statistical techniques that we might use to find and characterize asteroids from within huge datasets” she says.

Beeson, who is staff business manager at Man Alpha Technology, has been involved in a number of forward-thinking initiatives, including collaborating with the firm’s global head of talent to build a feedback tool that was rolled out across the business last year. 

She says the firm conducted a review of similar products in the market and found that they incorporated a lot of HR processes that could be distracting, or did not fit with Man Group’s culture. The firm wanted the tool to facilitate a cultural shift whereby feedback flowed much more freely among all team members.

“Everywhere varies in terms of how freely feedback flows, like on a sports team or in professions where someone’s life might be on the line, they will have a culture where information feeds back and forth between people because it has to be like that. But in an office environment, sometimes it’s not the same—feedback happens maybe at a certain one-hour session with your manager or things like that,” she says.  

Beeson plans to make available the feedback tool’s source code via GitHub to allow other firms to benefit from it. 

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