My degree gave me technical and analytical skills, but it also showed me that for me to fully enjoy my work, I need to be able to see the clear link to a practical purpose.
Course dates: 2003 - 2006
Current occupation: Senior Consultant for NEF Consulting (New Economics Foundation)
What are your main responsibilities in your current role?
Design, management and delivery of research projects which look at the social impact of the activities of public and third sector organisations. Promoting measurement of the things that matter, not just those that are easy to count. Advice to local authorities to design and deliver commissioning approaches which have targets for the intended impact of any work, not the number of activities delivered. Management of junior members of staff. Promotion of wellbeing in the workplace.
Please summarise your career progression since graduation, but in particular, what was your first relevant role in the area in which you work now and how did you secure that position?
2007: Paid internship in programme management. Understanding how to manage a £33m publically funded childcare programme across London. The programme intended to influence childcare settings to offer more flexible provision to parents. My responsibilities included monitoring providers to check compliance with programme requirements, and compilation of end of final year Statements of Grant Expenditure.
2008-2009: Consultant (research and evaluation): junior role involving design and delivery of evaluations of publically funded employment programmes and legal advice programmes.
2009 - 2012 Consultant (research and evaluation and funding): Promoted to lead the research team and also support organisations to design projects and programmes in advance of applying for funding. This included research into existing good practice and the empirical evidence base.
How has your qualification helped you in your career?
It has helped me to understand how to design and conduct practical numerical analysis. Mathematics is a very abstract degree, involving deriving analysis approaches from first principles. This helps when learning how to undertake specific research design and analysis techniques, as one can bring a more conceptual understanding of how a process fits together.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Receiving feedback from the organisations that I have supported to say that as a result of our support, they are now better equipped to undertake their own measurement of impact. If they are able to do it themselves, then my support has been effective.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career route and what skills/experience do you consider to be necessary?
A career in research consultancy requires you to be able to work on multiple projects at once: you need to be able to switch between tasks, be effective at managing your own time and energy and have a great enthusiasm to learn. You need to be confident in developing and sharing your ideas, and in communicating them in a structured way. You need a good first degree and to be able to demonstrate an ability to do qualitative and/ or quantitative research (for which a dissertation is a good start!). Ultimately- you need to be inquisitive about understanding the research area that a firm specialises in (for example society).
What do you think was the most valuable aspect of your time at Manchester?
The time and the space to immerse yourself in learning- both academic and about yourself and your motivations. My degree gave me technical and analytical skills, but it also showed me that for me to fully enjoy my work, I need to be able to see the clear link to a practical purpose.