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.