Meet Liam O’Farrell, Policy and Data Analyst at City-REDI

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I am delighted to have become part of the team of researchers at the City Region Economic Development Institute. I have long been interested in cities and how best to encourage social mobility, integrated communities, infrastructure development and a sustainable, inclusive economy. Moreover, as a Birmingham native (having grown up in Aston New Town and, later, Walsall), the idea of conducting research that will go on to have a positive effect on the place I grew up is exciting to me.

I join City-REDI from the Civil Service Fast Stream. For those who are unfamiliar, this is the government’s graduate scheme to find the future leaders of the Civil Service, offering intensive training in management, policy and research skills. The application process for the programme was gruelling – in total there were five rounds of interviews and tests, whittling nearly 40,000 applicants down to a handful of appointees! I was posted to High Speed Two, where I worked as a Delivery Manager, followed by a spell at the Department for Work and Pensions as a User Researcher, working alongside NHS colleagues. These experiences have taught me the importance of making research accessible in all senses of the word, to ensure that decision-makers and the public have all the information they need, exactly when they need it.

With regards to my education, I have a BA in History from the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies. During my four years on the course, I learned fluent German, some Icelandic, and tried – with limited success – to learn both Russian and Polish. My interests were in the field of urban history: the architecture and urban design of the twentieth century, the development of social housing (especially new towns in Central and Eastern Europe), and the impact of German reunification in 1990 upon the people and places of the former GDR. I have also recently completed an MA in International Relations and International Political Economy at the University of Birmingham, during which I explored the social and economic consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, the effects of wealth inequality, and the use of tax havens and corruption in the finance industry. Alongside my master’s I took the time to learn conversational Greek, as well as some basic French. Outside of work, languages are one of my biggest hobbies.

City-REDI seeks to support regional economic development and to ensure that the economy is inclusive, meaning it has a positive impact on the lives of ordinary people. I look forward to contributing to all manner of projects and the opportunity to learn from the expertise of my new colleagues. If you have any questions about the institute or anything else that I brought up here, don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Liam O’Farrell, Policy and Data Analyst, City-REDI, University of Birmingham.

The views expressed in this analysis post are those of the authors and not necessarily those of City-REDI or the University of Birmingham.

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