My Melbourne with Sandy Clarke

August 11 / 68

What is your unit? 

The Statistical Consulting Centre 

What is your job title?

Statistical Consultant

How long have you been with the University of Melbourne? 

Almost four years as a member of staff, as well as seven years as an undergraduate and postgraduate student.

How did you come to work at the University?

At the end of my BSc(Hons) in Statistics, my now-boss encouraged me to apply for a job with the centre.  I had been part of a vacation scholarship program the previous summer and knew it involved interesting work and great people, so I jumped at the chance.

Describe your typical day

I will usually meet with a couple of post-graduate students or staff members, sometimes external clients, and discuss their projects, with an emphasis on design, data collection and analysis.  When I am not involved in face-to-face consulting, I am usually doing quantitative analysis or report writing.  There are also always lots of questions to respond to, phone and email, big and small.

What is it about your job that holds your interest or is particularly satisfying?

The great variety.  While the statistical concepts and methods can be similar, the applications vary a great deal and I get to take part in all different types of research across the University, everything from medicine to marketing, from education to engineering.  One minute I might be thinking about the carbon savings of energy efficient light globes in Mexico, and then I’ll be talking to a client about music therapy in a neonatal intensive care unit.

What is the best piece of advice you have received?

I think the best advice I received from fellow consultants was to admit when I didn’t know the answer and not be afraid to say that I need time to think about it.  Often the person you are meeting with appreciates your honesty and is even flattered that their question is something out of the ordinary!

What is something about yourself that most of your colleagues wouldn't know? 

It is not surprising that a statistician would enjoy number puzzles – and I do – but I also love word puzzles, especially cryptic crosswords.  But this will be no surprise to my colleagues who will often find me solving them with a team of others in our tea room or sitting in the back of a seminar.

Where do you buy your coffee on campus?

I’m a tea drinker so I’m happy with my own brew.

What do you like most about the University? 

It is a place where people are not afraid to debate ideas and question the status quo.



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