I’m fascinated by what makes people tick.  Fascinated enough to complete a MSc mid-career in Cognitive & Decision Science at UCL with two young children, house-renovations and a full-time job.  I learnt so much on the MSc I wanted to share it with others – this is why I started a blog.

Much of the popular behavioural science literature focuses on how ‘dumb’ people are. This is an overly pessimistic view of humans. Most of the time, our judgement and decision making is extremely accurate. This is why I called the blog ‘Brilliant Minds’.

And changing things for the better.  So I got myself elected as a borough Councillor for where I live in May 2015.

The career bit.  People are always interested in your back story.  Skip to the first blog if this is not you.

I originally studied English Literature. My thesis was on the semiotics of clothing in the Victorian novel. What is semiotics?  The study of signs and symbols and how they are interpreted.

I ended up on a graduate scheme for a global advertising, PR and research group.  Fortunately for me, I landed a placement (and job) at a social & market research consultancy and learnt qualitative & quantitative research methods on the job. I worked with the brightest and best people. Many are now good friends. I loved consultancy life but always wondered if my research ever changed anything. So I quit to go client-side and joined the Consumer Champion, Which?

Which? publishes lots of statistics on customer satisfaction with a range of goods and services across consumer markets. Speaking to people up and down the country I often wondered why people would rate their bank / utility / telecoms provider poorly, but never switched.  Or why people wanted a decent retirement, but hadn’t started to save. Or why they would complain about paying £4 on hospital car parking but happily overpay £000’s on a mortgage.  Or why what people said never seemed to tie up with what they actually did.

I made the very rational decision to set up and lead Which?’s first Behavioural Insights team.  The pitch involved up-skilling me, via a MSc in Cognitive & Decision Science at UCL. I loved the MSc so much I left my management role for a technical role applying what I was learning.  I’m now lucky enough to work in a Behavioural Economics & Data Science team with a bunch of economists and computer scientists.

I love combining qualitative and ethnographic methods with the more scientific (experimental) approach and theories from cognitive psychology to solve problems. Thanks to Ed Gardiner at Warwick Business School, I have realised this is close-ish to human-centered design.  HCD combines mixed-methods to put the human perspective – and empathy with the end user (be it consumer, patient, employee) – at the heart of problem solving.

Happy reading!