MSc Graduate 2016
You graduated in 2016. What have you been up to since?
Since graduating from the MSc in Inequalities & Social Science I have worked as a strategy consultant at Deloitte Consulting LLP in Washington, DC. At Deloitte, I focus on public sector innovation for U.S. federal agencies and large non-profits that are looking for new ways to execute on their missions and deliver services to citizens, some of which are traditionally left out due to technological and political shifts. At the core of my work is the desire to foster a culture of innovation in public and non-profit sector organizations, so that they can build the capacity to become more successful at solving the nation’s most complex challenges through social innovation and transformation. I was named a D2international Social Impact Fellow at Deloitte, serve as a member of the Behavioral Insights and Public Policy Community of Practice, and am currently co-authoring a paper on the need for the private sector to invest the necessary resources to reduce economic inequality among consumers and employees.
How has completing the MSc Inequalities and Social Science course helped you in your career?
I have been lucky enough to work on some extremely meaningful projects at Deloitte that have directly benefited from the knowledge I gained during my course. During my time as a Social Impact Fellow, I worked with an Indian-owned and founded non-profit based in Pune, India that was attempting to deliver clean, safe sanitation services to poor individuals and families in densely-populated urban spaces. The work required me to develop a meaningful understanding of the academic research on unsafe sanitation services and its impact on toxic stress, economic mobility, educational outcomes, and increased risk of disease. Many of the resources I used during this project originated from the III itself or the professors whose work I came across during my studies. The project in Pune then shifted to behavioural public policy implementation work where my team developed a deep understanding of the community in an attempt to design behavioural insights strategies and “nudges” to increase adoption of this safer alternative, many of which were learned during a course with Dr. Adam Oliver at LSE.
In addition to this project, I was able to work with a non-US company looking to partner with the federal government to reduce the transmission of mosquito-borne illness among deployed service members through a new innovative public health product, as well as collaborate with a large federal agency to digitize many of its services and processes in order to reach a larger number of citizens in need. The MSc has given me the necessary understanding of the research behind addressing inequality and has helped me think through where this research can be most applicable to actually be used to reduce different types of inequality.
What was was your favourite bit of the MSc?
I can hands down say the people in my cohort were one of my favorite bits of the MSc. I was able to meet such interesting people from different parts of the world who cared about similar problems and questions that I often did. My cohort was both brilliant and down to earth, a rare combination. I am excited to see where their careers take them.
In addition to the people I studied with, I was also lucky enough to work as a Research Assistant in the Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion (CASE) with Dr. Abigail McKnight. I wanted additional experience researching and writing about inequality that would sharpen my understanding and also enhance my CV for future opportunities. Abigail agreed to take me on as an RA for nearly 10 months and co-author two major reports for Oxfam and the European Commission. She taught me more than some of my classes about research methods, critical thinking, and historical implications of inequality. I still keep in touch with Abigail who has become somewhat of a mentor and career sounding board. My advice for future students would be to find opportunities and individuals like this across LSE to supplement your academic experiences.
Any advice to students just about to embark upon the course?
The one year program goes by extremely quickly. I found myself in June looking back at both all of things I had learned juxtaposed with all the things I did not have time to learn. LSE and the III are very vibrant and intellectually stimulating places, my advice would be to try and absorb as much of it as you possibly can over the course of a year. Go to the public lectures you have the slightest interest in, even if it means sacrificing time for extra sleep and even study. I learned so much from the visiting lecturers from around the globe coming to speak on campus. Crack on with the optional course readings because contained within them may be a field of inequality or a way of thinking you otherwise would have missed. All in all, don’t limit yourself to 4 course units and two terms of lectures – get all you can from the III and LSE. That way of thinking will carry with you far past graduation and force you to think differently about the varying contexts you will find yourself in.
What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in the field of inequalities?
Be creative. Unlike what I thought when beginning at LSE, studying inequality does not have a direct career path and a set of milestones along the way. Inequality’s multidisciplinary nature and pervasiveness throughout society means that it takes all kind of occupations and sectors to truly make progress. When I left the MSc and began my current role, I was worried that the job would make me too far removed from the issues I genuinely cared about and there wasn’t a clear enough connection between inequality and consulting. I remember having this conversation with Mike Savage who was both frank and encouraging with me. He told me to bring what I learned in the MSc to this job; talk about the issue of inequality; share the research I had done; and challenge the institutional norms that may be a root cause of some of the inequality we see. I look back on what Mike said and appreciate his perspective. After nearly two years, I realize I am a unique voice on many issues due to what I learned during the MSc and that uniqueness is valuable. So, for future MSc graduates, to those of you who may be entering careers that do not check every box in the near term, be unashamed of your inequality training and its role in commonplace conversation both in your career and your communities. And when the time is right to move on, take what you have learned and do just that, move on.
What is the most pressing inequality issue right now, in your view?
The stifled political power of a large swath of society that is a result of the concentration of income and wealth at the top. Many of the faculty at the III write about these problems: political disenfranchisement and the negative ramifications of concentrated income and wealth. I am worried that, particularly in America, there is a governing elite that continues to exploit less wealthy and less powerful groups of society, in an attempt to fully disengage them from public life. Take the most recent Republican Tax Bill in the United States – a historic reduction of tax burdens on corporations and wealthy individuals that was written and rammed through by a powerful donor class completely disconnected from the middle and lower economic classes of America. Unless we enhance the political power of groups most negatively impacted by this type of legislation, we will continue to have politicians who create an economic system that is nearly impossible to climb up in when originating near the bottom.