Judd Ormsby

Judd Ormsby

Judd joined Motu in late January 2014 and left in April 2016. While at Motu, Judd worked with Arthur Grimes on understanding the importance of subjective well-being. The pair investigated whether people trade off subjective well-being and income when making migration decisions, and whether the nature of this trade-off changes with age.

Judd also worked with Suzi Kerr, Catherine Leining, and Corey Allan on the Low-Emission Future project. Judd’s work for this project focused on the New Zealand ETS’s international links. Judd was also involved with the Low-Emission future dialogue and the Low-Emission future blog.

What was your background before joining Motu?
I had just completed my studies at the University of Otago. I finished a first class Bachelor of Science (honours) in Economics and a first class Bachelor of Arts (honours) in Philosophy.

Why did you choose to come here?
A former Motu Senior Fellow, Steve Stillman, was working as a professor at Otago and convinced me to come. I liked the idea of learning with Motu’s excellent economists and getting some more training in the technical aspects of econ as a good foundation for whatever I was going to do next.

What were the highlights of your time at Motu?
I loved working with Arthur Grimes on wellbeing. We had some good fun on a couple of empirical projects and I learned a lot from those. I also have some fond memories of having a few beers after work with rest of Motu staff. Keynes hour (Motu's semi-regular Friday night drinks) was always a highlight. I made some great friends with the other research analysts there. Oh and the Motu Coffee reading group with Izi – that was fantastic, and I learned so much.

How has your career progressed since you left Motu?
After Motu I went to work for the NZ Treasury for a couple of years. I did a bit more empirical work there, but also got to advise on how to develop evaluations for planned budget bids and helped assess the evidence base for some of these. I really liked that work. Later I worked on Treasury’s Living Standards frameworks with nice links back to my wellbeing work at Motu. Right now I have just finished my Masters degree at the London School of Economics (LSE).

How has your Motu experience affected your subsequent path?
I think my training at Motu really helped me to understand how empirical research works. How you go about planning a study, how to assess other research. That skill helped me a lot at Treasury when I was advising on how best to design impact evaluation plans for some budget bids. I also felt really comfortable digesting research quickly and figuring out its strengths and weaknesses which is helpful if you are looking at the case for a particular intervention.

I’ve probably chosen a more technically orientated path than I would have if I hadn’t gone to Motu. That has pros and cons, I always like to do both technical things and soft skill things and get good at both – but sometimes you need to be careful not to let people pigeonhole you as one or the other – e.g. ‘the numbers guy’. Those stereotypes still annoy me.

What advice do you have for early career economists?
Hmm I don’t know if I would be so bold – I’m still an early career economist! But maybe one thing I quite like doing – I’m not really sure if it’s a good idea or not – is to keep trying new things early on to find out what you like and get good at different things. I think in the long-run that should hopefully pay off and be interesting.

On the other hand, however, I just finished a dissertation at LSE (building on some work and ideas Arthur and I had back at Motu) that sorta finds that patience doesn’t pay. So, if you take that literally, maybe don’t worry too much about a grand planned career path, and just do whatever makes you happy.