Paulina Szymczak

Location: London

Qualifications: MA Economics and Politics (University of Edinburgh), MSc Economics (UCL)

I joined SQW in May 2021 after completing an MSc in Economics at University College London. During my studies, I was particularly interested in applying a deeper, more rigorous analytical reasoning to policy-oriented research. The public policy focus of SQW’s work – and, in particular, emphasis on real-world impact on society through high-quality analysis – is therefore what drew me to apply for my current role as a Research Consultant.

In my first year at SQW I have had a chance to work across the breadth of the company’s expertise and discover for myself where my main interests lie. While getting to experience the full spectrum of SQW’s specialisms, as Research Consultants we are given many opportunities to cultivate our policy interests and develop in the areas we are the most drawn to. In my case, this has turned out to be spatial and local economic development, innovation and business support. Over the last few months, I have worked on projects as diverse as an impact study of Innovate UK’s Innovation Loans pilot programme, research into Hertfordshire’s film and TV cluster, a refreshed Independent Economic Review of the Northern Powerhouse, and an evaluation of a life science knowledge exchange network. Currently, amongst other projects, my work includes supporting the preparation of new economic plans and strategies for two local authorities, and also conducting research into the future of science and technology hubs by studying successful global innovation clusters.

Alongside the broad and varied subject matter, the diversity of tasks performed by Research Consultants – from literature reviews to rigorous data analysis to conducting interviews – makes for a very stimulating work environment and provides further opportunities to develop as a researcher. Having a background in economics, I have also enjoyed being able to apply statistical and econometric tools to real-world problems and continue to learn about new methodologies and approaches through our company ‘Quant Group’ bringing together colleagues interested in econometric work.

Finally, my first year at SQW would not have been as rewarding as it has been without the support and encouragement from my colleagues across all three offices – the culture of openness and appreciation, as well as the variety of team activities (whether it be an office bake off or an afternoon meditation session), makes for a truly great work environment!