What's your job about?
I work in the National Accounts program at the Australian Bureau of Statistics. We produce an integrated set of accounts on both a quarterly and an annual basis that provide key macroeconomic statistics for Australia. These are used by stakeholders like Treasury and the Reserve Bank of Australia to inform policy decisions, as well as by academics and businesses to inform their research and decision making.
My role is compiling the currency, loans and deposits markets for the 5232.0 National Accounts: Finance and Wealth quarterly publication. I use survey and administrative data to understand how money flows through the economy in a given quarter. What this actually looks like is taking unit level data and mapping it to the National Accounts framework, analysing the data to ensure accuracy and consistency across all statistical outputs, and preparing it for publication on the ABS website. I’m interested in questions like ‘did households deposit more or less money with banks this quarter?’ and ‘are state governments increasing or decreasing their loan borrowings from state treasuries?’ This information informs monetary policy decisions made by the Reserve Bank (e.g. the cash rate target) and contains important statistics like household wealth.
An interesting project I got to work on last year was looking at how expenditure on digital imports like Netflix and Spotify is currently being captured in the National Accounts. We conducted a review to determine the current data sources and suggested new data sources and methodologies to improve the accuracy of the estimates.
What's your background?
I grew up in the English countryside in a small town called Quorn and moved to Australia at 8 when my dad was offered a job here. After living in Bacchus Marsh for a year with my Nanna, we settled in the bayside suburb of Mentone where I completed my primary school, high school and university education.
I studied a double arts/science degree at Monash because I was interested in everything and couldn’t decide what I wanted to do. I’d always excelled in and enjoyed maths at school but had no idea what sort of career options were available. This is part of the reason it took me 5 and ½ years to finish my degree, eventually majoring in ecology and conservation biology, philosophy and religion. I spent a lot of my university years travelling; going back to Europe to visit family, volunteering in conservation reserves in Africa, and backpacking around South-East Asia.
After finishing my undergraduate degree I was no more certain of what sort of career I wanted so I moved to Canberra to study honours in evolutionary and computational biology at the ANU. I was extremely lucky to have an excellent supervisor who encouraged me to channel my love for maths into research and analysis. I started a PhD, which I found extremely isolating and, after a year, began looking for other alternatives. I applied for a graduate position at the ABS, was successful and soon realised it was a perfect fit for me.
Could someone with a different background do your job?
Absolutely! I’m a biologist doing the job of an economist so I think if I can do it then anyone can! The most important skills you can have are a commitment to learning and self-development and an interest in data and statistics – in any field. The rest can absolutely be learnt as long as you have the motivation.
What's the coolest thing about your job?
That’s hard, I love a lot of things about my job. I especially like being the first person to see the numbers come through for my markets, that’s always really exciting, knowing that you have access to privileged information that no-one else has seen yet. I also really love the people I work with; they’re dedicated, committed and often extremely inspirational.
What are the limitations of your job?
Working in the National Accounts program is certainly demanding and is not for everyone. During a big project last year my team and I were working 50+ hour weeks (including weekends) to ensure we delivered on time. It was really challenging, but also really rewarding as the product we delivered improved the quality of our statistical output.
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