Fri 25 Feb 22
Essex student Oluwatosin Adebola-Akande recently completed a three-month policy placement with the Open Innovation Team, being the team’s first Nigerian student.
Set up in 2016, the Open Innovation Team (OIT) is a cross government unit that works with academics to generate analysis and ideas for policy and help them understand how they can work more effectively with government.
PhD student Oluwatosin, from Essex Business School, was involved in working with a team of policy advisors to help policymakers with their analysis and new policies.
“I helped to facilitate interviews with academic experts and was involved in the OIT impact clinic,” explained Oluwatosin, who also used the experience to help mentor university students during the OIT Policy School.
She said working at the OIT influenced her career goals, offering various insights around the Civil Service and research used in policymaking.
“It gave me a unique insight into how the Civil Service works in practice. In addition, insights into how to tailor research outputs in a manner that is relevant and helpful for policy making. Finally, it helped me understand some of the constraints that shape decision-making.”
Oluwatosin said the OIT provided good support to students, being both friendly and approachable. She said: “My manager was particularly helpful, often anticipating my needs, and taking the time to discuss these with me during the weekly team meetings.”
For her, the placement offered a valuable insight into a new way of working.
“In academia, I’m used to spending months gathering evidence before producing research outputs,” she explained, “but the turnover time is quick here, which means you work on producing parts of a report very quickly.”
She added: “I particularly enjoyed the process of working on a project outside my research field and adapting the broader research and analytical skills I’ve acquired on my PhD, into decision-making.”
An OIT staff member added: "Oluwatosin worked on a range of projects, including a report on climate change and sustainability in the defence sector and adapting one of our training products to cater to an international audience. Tosin was a pleasure to have in the team and would make a great civil servant in future if she decided to pursue this."