1. When were you an RA at Motu?
I joined Motu as a Research Analyst in 1999. When I started there were three employees (Suzi, Maxine and I) and we were based in a house in Island Bay. When I left in October 2005 there were around a dozen people working in our first offices on Cuba Street.
2. What was your background before joining Motu?
I had just completed a Masters in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the UK before moving to New Zealand to be with my Kiwi partner.
3. Why did you choose to come here?
I was looking to use my GIS skills and Motu needed someone to help them describe the economic geography of New Zealand.
4. What were the highlights of your time at Motu?
I will always be grateful for the opportunity to work with and learn from so many talented people. Interesting conversations happened everywhere, even over cups of tea. One of my highlights at Motu was being able to present our research at conferences and seminars. I was able to meet a wide range of people and become more confident in how I communicated sometimes complicated research to a wide range of audiences.
5. How has your career progressed since you left Motu?
Since I left Motu I have worked in a number of government departments in their research and evaluation teams. I've had a number of different roles, including management. I am currently the Insights Manager at the Education Review Office and teach on Massey University’s data analytics masters course.
6. How has your Motu experience affected your subsequent path?
Motu (and Dave Maré) definitely made me a data person, but also someone who thinks carefully about the research process from designing the right question, to using the right data and selecting the right method. My experience of presenting my work at Motu has also developed an interest in communicating research to different audiences. Motu also set me on a path that involves quite a bit of programming, which can produce great days but some frustrating ones too.
7. What advice do you have for early career economists?
Being able to analyse data or collect information is not good enough. You also need the skills to decide what data you need and how you will use it to answer your research question. I have also come to realise that for some questions, you really need to talk to people and find out more about the stories they have to tell. Sometimes data can over-simplify the world and lose sight of the really important stuff.
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