Joaquin Collao Jul

Master of Public Administration (MPA) Class of 2023

I have left the school being more aware that practicing policy is a never-ending learning process that requires a balance of humility and courage, as well as an understanding of your beliefs and biases

Joaquin Collao Jul, MPA Class of 2023

Joaquin Collao Jul sq 

Name: Joaquin Collao Jul

Programme: MPA, Class of 2023

Nationality: Chilean

Congratulations on your graduation from the LSE Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme! How does it feel to be a MPA graduate?  

Graduating from the Master of Public Administration (MPA) programme was an important life milestone, fulfilling a dream of delving into public policy and economics at LSE with such thoughtful and passionate academics and students. I have left the school being more aware that practicing policy is a never-ending learning process that requires a balance of humility and courage, as well as an understanding of your beliefs and biases. Fuelled by this realisation, my passion and curiosity for evidence-based policymaking have only grown stronger.  

What have been your key takeaways from your studies and how are you applying these in your future plans?  

I have become more critical yet more interested in evidence in different ways. Firstly, I appreciate the importance of understanding the root causes of things more. I try to incorporate this mindset in my daily work, underlining the need for gathering and assessing existing data and evidence pragmatically. Furthermore, I've come to see that we need to be wary of instant solutions; complex problems demand critical analysis and consideration of the nuances and available, sometimes contrary, evidence. Finally, I’ve realised the importance of considering the more distant past and future to inform decision-making.  

Can you tell us a bit about your background and your motivation for your studies?  

My main motivation for my studies was to increase my policy and econometrics knowledge, along with practical policy skills (e.g., public speaking and decision-making), to pursue a career in governance and international affairs. I have a background in economics and management and professional experience as a policy practitioner in state modernisation and innovation policy. Before joining LSE, I served as a Coordinator at the Government Lab of the Ministry of the Presidency in Chile. While at LSE, I worked as a Consultant for the OECD, and after graduating, I have joined the Organisation as a Policy Analyst in the Directorate of Public Governance’s Innovative, Digital, and Open Government Directorate. 

Why did you choose to study the MPA programme at LSE School of Public Policy?  

Firstly, I chose the MPA at the LSE School of Public Policy because of the curriculum’s focus on econometrics and evidence-based policymaking. Secondly, the school offered me the ideal blend of academically rigorous and applied curricula, combining professors with top academic experience, as well as with policy experience at the highest level, within an international cohort. Thirdly, because of the two-year full-time programme would allow me to delve deeper into other interests, such as political economy and public economics.  

What did you think were the main benefits from studying a two-year masters programme?  

Studying a two-year master's programme at LSE brought several benefits. It provided me with more time to explore my academic interests in optional courses, office hours, and events and build meaningful relationships with fellow students and professors. Furthermore, it allowed me to explore additional opportunities, such as undertaking a summer internship and writing a dissertation, to enrich my practical policy experience and research skills further. Lastly, it offered a longer period to enjoy and discover London and the UK.  

Can you tell us about your Capstone Project and what you learnt from the experience? What were the main benefits of this experience?  

My team and I worked on a Capstone project for Circle Economy, a world-leading think tank that advises international organisations and governments on circular economy. We researched how policies in this area affected the labour market in the Global South. The main benefit of the experience was working in a real-world policy setting, with the support and advice of LSE professors. It allowed me to practice some of the policy skills we learned during the MPA, particularly the research and teamwork skills, and learn from peers and the project’s counterpart.  

Were there any standout modules from your studies?  

I thoroughly enjoyed the modules related to the MPA specialisms in ‘Economic Policy’ and ‘International Political Economy’. The former gives you tools to analyse and evaluate economic policies. Within this, the ‘Public Economics’ course developed my understanding of economic models with real applications for evidence-based policymaking in topics such as unemployment, cash transfers, pensions, and taxation.

The ‘Globalisation and Economic Policy’ course allowed me to gain skills in assessing global issues such as economic crises and value chains, economic integration and public finances. The courses regarding the latter delve into understanding the intersection of political decisions and economic outcomes. One of the courses is taught by a panel of five experienced SPP professors, who guide us in acquiring political economy tools for analysing economic growth and state capacity issues through diverse practical frameworks and data sources.  

How did you make the most of being a part of the LSE community during your studies?  

One of the highlights from my first year on the programme was participating in the 2022 Global Public Policy Network (GPPN) Conference. Alongside a group of classmates, we worked on a specific project related to the fishing industry and sustainability, during which I really enjoyed putting policy skills into practice. Moreover, I tried to attend as many events as possible to learn, share, and discuss policy and global issues where you can get to know speakers, faculties, and students from every corner of the world.  

What are your highlights from your time with your classmates?  

There were definitely many highlights, but one big one was the regular Friday evenings at the George V Pub on campus. These moments, along with dinners, allowed us to share food, stories, and discussions about policy, our countries, and our backgrounds. Another highlight was a self-organised trip to Egypt with a group of classmates after the programme as a way of celebrating the end of our two academic years and exams.  

Who would you recommend the programme to?  

I would recommend the programme to anyone looking to strengthen their policymaking skills with a focus on quantitative approaches and with experienced practitioners and academics. All of this with an international cohort with a rich diversity of policy experiences.  

What advice would you give to people who are considering studying the MPA?  

I would advise carefully reviewing the programme, courses, and professors to determine whether the programme will lead you to discover and better achieve your interests and aspirations and to contact the school and fellows to solve your doubts and questions.  

Do you have any practical advice or top tips for our new MPA students?  

  • Have fun and enjoy this unique opportunity every day, being thankful for all the reasons that allowed you to study at LSE.  
  • Use office hours to engage with professors from the SPP and other departments.  
  • Enjoy and take advantage of all LSE opportunities such as events, skills accelerator, careers support, alumni network, and many others.  

How would you describe your SPP experience in three words?  

Thoughtful. Fun. Thankful. 


Joaquin is happy to connect on Linkedin