What first attracted you to IFS?
While studying at UCL, I decided that I wanted to pursue a career in something that allowed me to take forward the things that I had learnt at university. Many of my lecturers also worked at the IFS, and many papers produced by the Institute featured in my applied modules. This inspired me to do a little more research, and soon discovered that the areas in which the IFS worked in were ones that really interested me.
Which projects are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a number of projects related to topics in health and health care. One project examines the impact of recent NHS reforms, which expanded the use of private providers in markets for NHS elective surgery. This analyses the impact of these reforms on the demand for NHS-funded joint replacements, and the implications for patients, NHS trusts and the public finances. In the past I have also worked on projects in environmental and development economics – excellent examples of the large range of topics in which researchers at IFS are involved.
What kind of things do you do during a typical day at work?
Activities vary greatly depending on the projects that I am working on. In general, large parts of my day are spent working with data on statistical software such as Stata. A great deal of time is also spent discussing work with other members of staff and producing written outputs in order to disseminate the findings of our work to a large audience. I also regularly attend the seminars organised by IFS.
What do you particularly enjoy about the job?
I enjoy the fact that I get to work on topics that I find interesting every day. This is made even better by the setting in which this takes place – surrounded by people who are passionate about their work, extremely knowledgeable and always willing to discuss ideas and problems.
How has your career progressed so far at IFS?
I joined IFS after completing my MSc at UCL, with no previous work experience. Initially, junior researchers work closely with other researchers, joining a team on existing projects. In my case, I worked with the development team on the evaluation of a social security programme in Colombia, and with the consumption sector on the design of motoring taxation in the UK. Over time, my area of research has changed, with a focus on research in the economics of health and healthcare. My responsibilities have also increased over time. This means not only managing my own time on a day to day basis, but also in thinking about and shaping my future research agenda. This includes developing new research ideas, discussing these with senior colleagues and the IFS research fellows, and applying for funding. In September 2013 I also returned to studying (part time) when I enrolled on the PhD programme at UCL. This has brought about new challenges (and a return to exams!) but has also presented many opportunities to continue to improve my research skills.
What have you learned from working here?
I have learnt a great deal in the three years since joining IFS, and continue to do so every day! This includes how to handle data efficiently, programming with Stata, and learning new techniques for writing outputs in a mix of policy and academic settings. Working at IFS has presented me with many opportunities to present to a range of audiences, including policy-makers, journalists, academics and students. The regular seminars, held at both IFS and UCL, have also provided me with fantastic opportunities to learn more about a broad range of academic topics.
How would you describe the working environment?
The working environment is friendly and relaxed. People are always willing to help you and discuss work regardless of how senior they are. This makes you feel like a valued part of the team from day one, and contributes significantly to making the IFS a very enjoyable place to work.