When you first approach Phyu Hninn Nyein, you’d never suspect from her friendly demeanor that she’s actually a fierce dancer and a statistics whiz. Do a little bit of digging, though, and it’s no time before Hninn opens up about how ballroom dancing is the best sport ever and how she hopes to increase numeracy levels across Myanmar.
There are many reasons why she’s the head of our Knowledge and Social Impact Team, but when you hear her story, it seems only natural that she’d carry the title of “Knowledge Manager.” Numbers have been her passion since high school, and at 17, she left Myanmar to study math and biology in the US. While doing work on HIV 1 pathogenesis at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, she made the switch to biostatistics.
When Hninn decided to come back to Yangon to be closer to family, Proximity stepped in and seized Hninn’s talent to help us measure the impact our products have on the rural families that purchase them. The Knowledge and Social Impact Team collects and processes huge amounts of raw data regarding our customers, and while Hninn might dismiss what she does as “fancy analysis,” she’s essential to our operations. When asked why she postponed further studies to continue her work here, she says, “I really like what I’m doing right now so I want to keep on doing it," and recounts how Proximity helped her apply her skills despite the fact that she had no previous social enterprise experience. “This place has the right mix of guidance and freedom so that you really get to experiment with things,” she adds.
All in all, the name of Hninn’s blog –Dancing with Data – suits her to a T. And while we are well acquainted with her data side, Hninn lights up whe she talks about training to master the Viennese Waltz in Massachusetts. “Ballroom is unlike any other sport, because you get to be both sweaty and glamorous at the same time," she says. Dancing is what she misses most from her time in the US.
Still, there’s hope for Yangon’s ballroom scene with people like Hninn around. We're just saying: with her resourcefulness, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if in a couple years Hninn is a Burmese waltzing celebrity, in addition to the data rock star that she already is at Proximity.