Social Impact Analyst. Maths whiz.

Perth, WA

On what she does.

I'm a social impact analyst. I help governments and not-for-profits with their data and statistics - particularly data related to people in need. So if, for example, they are running a service for homeless people, I help them think about how to collect information to show what difference the service makes for these people. We think about what data to collect, how to collect it, what to do with it after that, how much the service is worth and how it might be improved.

Do you remember what you wanted to do with your life when you were a teenager?

 I wanted to be a brain surgeon.

What was the best career/life advice from a mentor you’ve ever been given?

Under-promise and over-deliver.

Which part of your job gives you the most satisfaction.

I love it when my work really makes a difference

for someone and they let me know. They're usually

the people that work with homeless people, or foster

children, or people in jail or with disabilities. I know

how hard they work and making their lives easier

makes me feel like all my hard work is worth it.

For someone who wants to do your job what skills,

experience or qualifications would you recommend?

Maths. Lots of people hate maths. The more you love it and the better you are at it, the more value you can bring to all those people who aren't into their numbers. It's so important, so everyone is desperate for a maths nerd.

Tell us briefly how you ended up doing what you do.

I was a maths teacher, and then a management consultant, and then a policy analyst for the government and then I went out and started my own business.

What one piece of advice would you give to your 15 year old self or younger generations still at school today?

 Go to class. Listen. Learn. You're never going to get another chance to learn like this, and it's such a privilege to be able to get better at so many things every day. When you start working you're really busy and you do such a tiny range of activities - you get narrower and narrower and don't have time to learn new things except by watching Masterchef or something. 

Lots of people hate maths. The more you love it and the better you are at it, the more value you can bring to all those people who aren't into their numbers. It's so important, so everyone is desperate for a maths nerd.

One who shares Emma's mindset is Danica. Maths is better than Hollywood according to Danica McKellar - click on picture for link to movie

What was the best year of your life and why?

 My first year of work - I went to teach high school maths in the Northern Territory. It was so amazing and new and I felt so alive! It was also really hard - maybe also the hardest year of my life. Doing something really hard, and doing it well, is incredibly rewarding. 

Did you have any jobs as a teenager?

I was a maths tutor, babysitter, piano teacher, a waitress (didn't last long before they fired me), a bartender (got fired from that one too) and I used to make sushi for people's parties.

Tell us briefly  the different places you’ve lived in…

Melbourne, Sydney, Tennant Creek, London, Hirafu, St Anton... Perth's still the best!

Did you enjoy school? 

I absolutely loved school, but I liked all the extra-curricular stuff so much I ended up never going to class...and I was so naughty that the teachers didn't want me in their class anyway. But I loved the whole place so much. And I liked most of my teachers - we would have great chats when I wasn't destroying their classes!

How do you believe schools and or universities might be changed to be more relevant or effective?

Schools just get the parents and friends of students and teachers in for careers days/nights. So there's a really limited range of what they show. They should get a really wide range of people in. Maths graduates are often told they can be actuaries or teachers - what a load of crap! There are so many amazing careers for them! We should focus on teaching people to write, research and calculate. Most of the stuff you need to do in most jobs can be learnt on the job. I just want my employees to have the basics. But to be really strong at them.

Last word..

In the movies, everyone wants to leave their terrible desk job and do something creative. That's partly because people who write the scripts for movies are creative. There are loads of desk jobs that are so wonderful and rewarding. Working for someone you admire and who teaches you something every day is inspiring and makes you feel positive about everything - no matter what it is you're doing. 



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