Alumni Interviews

Our alumni share their post-graduation insights

The main force in favor of greater equality has been the diffusion of knowledge and skills


Gilly Orr

MSc Graduate 2017

You graduated in 2017. What have you been up to since?

Since my exams I have been working at Tomorrow’s People. It is a UK-based employability charity that gets disadvantaged young people to the point of job readiness, helps them into work and supports them for their first year as an employee. I am designing a directly-managed social impact bond for them. It will be the first SIB where public and private sector commissioners come together to buy outcomes. It has the potential to really challenge the thinking in this market.

How has the course helped you in your career?

The course was a glorious break from my career. I knew I needed to do something different. I could no longer accept being a bystander to the problems of society, as a journalist I wanted to do more than bear witness. I just didn’t quite know what. Inequality has been growing in the UK and worldwide for years. I saw it daily in my job. The course allowed me to study it from all angles and decide which aspect of it I was most passionate about. I have ended up in a job that is tackling head on the problems of class and geographic inequality, social stagnation, left-behind towns, I am trying to create a solution to the economic collapse of local authorities and the impact that has on small and medium sized charities. I could not be more embedded in the issues and subjects of our course if I tried.

Why did you apply to the course?

Very few people have had the capacity or perspicacity to view inequality in the round. I looked at every major university in the UK, the US and some in Europe. Many of them dealt with interesting aspects of it but this course jumped out instantly. It was the only one that was bold enough to go at it in its entirety. I had been searching for a valid course for weeks, it took me seconds of finding this MSc to want to email the course leader and find out more.

What is your most memorable moment from the course?

I hit a very low moment in the second half of the autumn term when I was overwhelmed by the sheer weight of the learning, the sense of intractable problems and a terror that I would find out just how bad things were and not be able to do anything practical to help. I just couldn’t believe that solutions were possible. Then I went to another of my Inequalities MSc classes with my wonderful colleagues and I thought these people are incredible: passionate, clever and driven; we just need some inspiration. Together we compiled a list of motivators. People that we would love to hear from, whose stories we thought would give us ideas and hope. It worked. We never got to hear from Michelle Obama (sadly), nor even Ed Miliband (sorry, Harry!) but we heard from people who were also passionate, clever and driven and had chosen an area to try and combat inequality. It made me realise that you can never tackle inequality in its entirety but you can take it on successfully in housing or law or economics or academia, and it does make a difference.

What was the most challenging part of the course?

The reading. I adore reading, I read daily for work and digested more facts and figures that I could ever retain and that was the problem. After years of working I had lost the art of reading and retaining information. For at least the first term I had to read things over and over to even begin to remember the salient points. Then, the more I learnt, the more I realised how much I didn’t know and the reading became harder as I tried to understand the context more deeply. But that is, of course, the nature of study. It is a challenge and the very disciple of learning is part of the course. By the end I could read books and remember so much. I just hope I don’t lose the art of reading too quickly again.

Any advice to students just about to embark upon the course?

Be bold. Utopia is a futile, ridiculous future that becomes commonplace the moment it is achieved. Inequality is not for the fainthearted. You will be terrified, depressed and overwhelmed by the material at times but it is the most empowering setting. You will leave with the tools to change things, in your own, defiant way. I saw it in all my colleagues. I am so excited to watch them change the world for the better.

What do you see as the greatest challenge to addressing inequalities today?

Inequality is like a Hydra. It has so many evil heads that it can only really be tackled when you are able to understand how every part fits together. The greatest challenge for society is to get to a point where we recognise that it is all connected and it is personal. We cannot look at things in isolation but must strive to understand how society has created structures that create and perpetuate inequality. I take heart from seeing the change that is already coming. We talk about inequality now, not just social mobility. We address our individual actions, like reducing our plastic consumption, not just argue that government must do it for us through international agreements. We recognise that while capitalism has been successful in bringing us to this moment of great peace and prosperity, there are things that are more important than money and these are the measures of happiness that we need to deliver on. 



Bart van Bruggen

MSc Graduate 2017

You graduated in 2017. What have you been up to since?

I left London for Amsterdam just after finishing my dissertation and almost immediately started a job as a policy adviser and project leader to the Dutch Patients' Federation. I am very happy to contribute to the representation of patients' interests in health care policy making on various levels. I'm now mostly concerned with questions around information about the quality of care in hospitals: what information should be public, and what information do patients need to make the right choice of hospital?

How has the course helped you in your career?

The MSc has enriched my life and career in many ways: I met the most remarkable and inspiring people and learned a lot about the many faces inequality takes, the political systems that shape patterns of inequality, and ways to tackle inequality on the policy level. One of the central takeaways of the course for me was the need to organise those without voice or power, to counterbalance the people who have abundant political or economic power. This has fueled my motivation to do the work I'm doing at the moment.

What was your favourite bit of the MSc?

Here I can only say my absolute favourite bit of the MSc were my fellow students. We became such a close group of friends in such a short time, sharing drinks, curry nights and experiences. The year would never have been so memorable without them. Without the need to compete amongst each other, we really kept each other motivated for studying. More importantly though, it still is a wonderful group of friends and I'm sure we'll keep seeing each other in the future. The encouragement and engagement of the III staff should not be left unmentioned either, by the way.

Any advice to students just about to embark upon the course?

Make sure to visit LSE's public events! Every year the programme is quite exciting. I still receive the LSE public events newsletter and every time it drops into my inbox I'm a bit jealous of current LSE students who get the chance to see so many inspiring speakers. Of course, the III lecture series and seminars are especially worth visiting. Having visited a public event, don't forget to get to the George afterwards to analyse the talks over a pint with the friends I'm sure you'll make this year.

What advice would you give someone wanting to start a career in the field of inequalities?

Broaden your experience and find focus in your field of interest. This might seem a bit contradictoy, but it's not. It's the combination of different experiences that makes for attractive job candidates in various fields on inequalities. The combination of the political background I acquired before joining LSE, and my academic background at LSE helped me get my current job and helps me perform well in it. Make sure to build your own combination of civic engagement and academic excellence in your field of interest within the inequalities. 

What is the most pressing inequality issue right now, in your view?

Unfortunately, having studied inequalities for a year, this question is now a lot harder to answer than before: the challenges are large and diverse. I would highlight two issues in particular: first, unequal power structures that are woven deeply into the fabric of society. As a classic issue for emancipatory movements, this struggle is far from over. Second, large and sometimes growing inequalities in terms of wealth and income threaten solidarity and opportunity in our societies, which might well be a ticking time bomb under the foundations of our parliamentary democracies. 


Mark Rucci

Mark Rucci

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.