Olga Kononykhina

quantitative sociologist & data scientist

Olga Kononykhina - Quantitative sociology and data science in the fields of art, culture, diversity, governance, development, civil society and non-profits

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Hi, I am Olga and I’m a Berlin based sociologist & data scientist. I have 11 years of experience and two degrees (in sociology and applied mathematics and computer science) and i have lived and worked in Russia, USA, South Africa and currently Germany.

I have always worked at the intersection of social science and data analysis. Mainly I focus on two fields (culture and nonprofit sector).

If i had to add keywords representing my professional interests and expertise, the list below would be a good snapshot:

  • indicators, data analysis, data visualization (R, SPSS, Stata, Tableau), survey methodology

  • M&E of cultural projects; audience research, workshops facilitation

  • cultural indicators, cultural policy, cultural participation, cultural mapping, cultural relations, cultural diplomacy

  • civil society and nonprofit statistics

  • corporate citizenship, CSR, business&NGO relations

  • governance, democracy indicators

Would you like to know more about projects I do?
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Okay, then here are some stories
about my life and things i do apart from work


How it all started: I was born and grew up in a suburb of Lipetsk (big industrial city in central Russia) in a house that was divided between 3 families with a Russian oven instead of heating, no tap water or sanitation. Even now there is no google street view. But it was on the edge of a forest and we had all the freedom to explore the world around. Just think about it, I had a hedgehog, craw, duck and cats as pets, baked potatoes and bread on the open fire in the forest as often as I wanted, skied or cycled for hours. 

Negotiation training: I was 2,5 when my brother was born. It was very exciting because i was promised that we would play together, so you can sense my degree of disappointment when Peter arrived and couldn't play with me. I wasn't ready to completely give up on the idea of having a sibling, but obviously wasn't happy with having a brother. When on some occasion we passed by a hospital I told my mother that the brother was no useful sibling and we'd better exchange him for a sister. Mom agreed but offered me to go and negotiate. So I went in, came back after a while and told my mom that unfortunately no sisters were available for exchange at the moment but I was advised to come next day.

To be or not to be: I was in a special ballet class and apparently was quite good (or just hard working, who knows) and my mother worried that I would try to become a ballerina, so as soon as I started developing and platoed with my dance progress mom happily took me out of ballet. Anyway, I still love dance and still have dreams about dancing on stage.

Knowledge addict: I was and still is a huge nerd (I even had a  medal for excellence in studying). Back in secondary school my passion was with chemistry, geography, ecology, history and literature. In high school I got seriously hooked on macro-economics and then mathematics obviously clicked too. At the university I couldn't get enough of studying and often took 3 instead of 1 electives and also attended bunch of open-level courses. Now I consume mostly podcasts and online classes. 

Failure is a part of life but not the reason to give up: Despite all my efforts and hours of preparation I didn't get into the university of my choice when i graduated from school. I was stubborn enough and didn't want to study anywhere else (and obviously wanted to prove to myself that i can get into the uni i wanted) so I spent the next year preparing for entrance exams... and... got 1 point below that year acceptance rate (okay for the sake of justice I got into 5 other universities, but wasn't really interested). I had to have an interview with the dean... and ended up being 5th on the waiting list... A week later they called me that I got accepted. 

First job: I had my first paid job when I was 13. My father arranged for me to work on a conveyor at an alcohol production factory - bottles were placed upside down against the bright light, so that if a bottle was damaged at any stage of production then pieces of glass would fall inside a bottle and would shine like tiny stars. My job was to notice those stars and remove damaged bottles. My first unpaid "job" was a bit earlier, organising events, choreographing and arranging other activities at the children camp my mother used to work at. 

If i could go back: I would have reversed my degrees and studied mathematics first and sociology after

If I could change one thing about myself: I would really like to have wings. For now  my mind flies when working; and my body flies when dancing

Something I wanted for a while: Back in 2009 I saw an index that ranked countries according to quality of life or something similar, and Sierra Leone was the only country that didn't have an ongoing war that was at the bottom of the list. Since then I wanted to visit it to see myself why it was "impossible" to live there. I visited Freetown in 2012 to facilitate a civil society research workshop and fell in love with the country and people there. In fact the most interesting and deep conversation about civil society in my life I had with a waiter at the hotel there. Now I am fascinated with observatories in Chile and plan to gift myself with a trip there after I finish my PhD.

Priceless moments: I love witnessing moments when people finally "get it", when something that used to be a mass of questions gets shapes, and directions. That moment when you literally see and sense the light in people's eyes. That's what i work, speak and teach for: identifying "hmmm?" and turning it into "aha!"



I love…
crazy adventures;
learning new things;
exchanging ideas;
reading, ideally on the grass by the river near my house;
talking to my friends over a glass of wine;
walking around Berlin;