KPKadriann Pikkat

Location: Edinburgh

Qualifications: MSc Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation (London School of Economics and Political Science), MA Economics (University of Glasgow)

I joined SQW in September 2018 after completing an MSc in Management of Information Systems and Digital Innovation at LSE. Prior to this, I worked at another research consultancy, and also gained experience in business growth and finance at the investment agencies of Estonia and the state of Victoria, Australia. Through these experiences, I have developed a strong interest in innovation, finance and technology. I therefore joined SQW primarily because of its expertise in the innovation domain. This interest has been encouraged at SQW, and most of my work so far has been within that area. Equally, the company's breadth of expertise allows graduates to gain experience across a range of policy areas such as skills and education. There is also some overlap between these, for instance I am currently working on a project mapping the landscape for innovation skills.

From the outset, I have been able to work on high-profile projects with real impact. This includes the evaluation of Innovation Loans – a new finance programme piloted by Innovate UK for late-stage R&D projects. As part of this study, I undertook case studies with business beneficiaries and contributed to reporting. In another business support project, the outputs of the evaluation fed into the next Government Spending Review. The variety of projects – even within the same policy domain – makes the work really stimulating. I am, for example, involved in the early impact evaluation of a funding programme for the aerospace sector. Through this work (including a recent visit to a wind tunnel!), I have built up knowledge of a sector unfamiliar to me just six months ago.

Within each project Research Consultants undertake various tasks, such as desk research, data analysis and reporting, development of research tools, and conducting consultations (including case studies). This variety has allowed me to quickly develop a wide range of skills. Learning by doing makes for the steepest learning curve, but there is also support from an internal training programme covering topics from research methods to using specific software. This includes learning how to undertake socio-economic baseline assessments, be more efficient in Excel, and create maps using ArcGIS Pro software.

Perhaps the best part of SQW, however, are its people who are a pleasure to work alongside. Across all the offices, the team spans a wide range of knowledge, skills and interests. Even as a junior consultant, my input and opinions feel valued in both project work and at management level. The size of the company makes it possible to develop a good rapport with all consultants, and cross-office working is frequent. It is the combination of impactful work and a collective desire to have fun along the way that makes SQW a really rewarding place to work.