Vote analyst for Science and Innovation

Jonathan Williams discovered his passion for the public sector while studying for a Master of Arts in Politics and International Relations.

Jonathan Williams

Key facts

Career: Vote analyst
Programme: Master of Arts
Subject: Politics and International Relations

“My role is to provide advice to the Minister of Finance on the performance of the Government’s investments in Research and Development ($1.4b in 2015). I also lead Treasury’s policy advice on broader science and innovation issues, help coordinate the OECD Country Studies of New Zealand and provide oversight of the Productivity Commission.

“A real challenge and highlight this year has been developing and putting forward Treasury’s advice on science and innovation for Budget 2016.

“I did a Master of Arts in Politics and International Relations, and wrote my thesis on the Emissions Trading Scheme. Along the way I took the time to follow my passions and joined clubs, did volunteer work in Peru over the summer holidays, did an internship for Oxfam and a Member of Parliament, and went to South Africa to the United Nations Climate Change Negotiations.

“Studying in the Faculty of Arts helped me to find and follow these passions, which led to my first job out of university at the Ministry for the Environment.

“The most useful skills I gained from studying Arts have been in learning to critically analyse information and express my findings to others in a way that is concise and easy to understand.

“Through my Arts study I learned to make every word count and to deliver messages with clarity and ease. This is what you need to do when you’re briefing ministers on complex issues; they’re busy people who have to cover a wide range of information.

“My favourite subjects at school were languages and social science, so I appreciated being able to study these as part of my Bachelor of Arts. I also wasn’t too sure what I wanted to specialise in, so being able to pursue a wide range of subjects helped me find my feet and figure out what I wanted to study at postgraduate level.

“If you’re keen on working in the public sector in Wellington, you should get along to a roadshow or consultation a Government department is doing, and ask the officials there about their careers and how they got started.

“If you’ve got a wide range of interests, definitely take the chance in your first or second year to do courses in a wide range of subjects and see what you end up enjoying the most, before specialising at the end of your BA and during postgraduate study.”