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Home About Jobs Senior Research Economist, Productivity and Innovation Programme

Martin O'Connell

Senior Research Economist, Productivity and Innovation Programme

What first attracted you to IFS?


I was attracted to the IFS because of its reputation for conducting high quality economic research which seeks to address questions of central importance to policymakers.


Which projects are you working on at the moment?


I am working on a number of different projects, all with the common theme that they involve trying to understand consumer, supermarket and manufacturer decision-making in the food market. These projects involve using cutting-edge economics, and they seek to help us understand the implications of policy interventions in this market (e.g. what would be the effect of a complete ban on the advertising of junk food on pricing and consumption?).


What kinds of things do you do during a typical day at work?


A typical day at work may involve developing an economic model designed to capture the salient features of the question at hand, using statistical software and data to estimate such a model, discussing work internally with colleagues or in front of external audiences, or writing a report or research paper outlining findings. But whatever of these tasks I’m engaged in, the common theme is I am consistently required to use economic reasoning to address challenging problems.


What do you particularly enjoy about the job?


I enjoy thinking about problems in a logical and rigorous fashion and I also enjoy continually learning and being intellectually challenged. Both of these are central to working at IFS.


How has your career progressed so far at IFS?


I joined IFS in 2008. A year later I elected to start a part-time PhD at UCL – something that is positively encouraged by IFS. This has involved the challenge of balancing my time between the demands of work and of studying (including sitting exams), but it has been a really effective way of developing my skills as a researcher. In 2011 I became a Senior Research Economist which involves increased autonomy in setting and driving forward your own research agenda.


What have you learned from working here?


Listing everything I have learned since joining would take far too long! Suffice to say, if you are interested in a career in which what you learned as an economics undergraduate or Masters student only represents the tip of the iceberg in terms of what you will eventually learn, then IFS is for you.


How would you describe the working environment?


The working environment is very friendly and non-hierarchical. Professionally this means it is perfectly acceptable, and indeed expected of you, to go to senior researchers to chat to them about your and their work. And socially it means IFS is very fun place to work!