Rian Watt
LSE Department of Management Alum of the Month – April 2017

Programme studied at LSE: MSc Public Management and Governance

Year of Graduation: 2015

Tagline: “I tell simple stories about complex data.”

What’s your current job?

That’s a bit of a loaded question. Nine to five, I work as a policy analyst for a firm called Abt Associates, based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. We do rigorous randomized control trials of public policy questions – so instead of building a model to find out if a particular program or policy might work, we recruit participants and test things out in the real world to see if it does.

I’m also a freelance baseball writer, most notably for Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight (that’s the site that gave Donald Trump a 30 percent chance of winning the election on November 8th), VICE Sports, and Baseball Prospectus. In many ways, the work I do for those sites is very similar to the work I do for Abt: I take a long, hard look at something complicated, and find a way to talk about it simply.

Where have you worked previously?

For a few months, directly after graduation, I worked as a management consultant for Deloitte’s Federal Human Capital practice, based out of Washington DC. I’ve also worked as a bartender at a tequila bar, a waiter at an Irish pub, an entry-level lackey for a catering company, and a lawnmower.

How has the programme you studied helped your career since you graduated?

The MSc in Public Management and Governance taught me a little bit about public management and governance and a lot about how to think critically about the world. Many of the programme’s lessons—about design thinking, in particular—are applicable well beyond the relatively narrow confines of the domains we studied them in. Domain-specific expertise is still incredibly valuable in today’s world, and that’s not going to change any time soon. But the ability to apply lessons across domains is, I think, a skill that will find itself increasingly rewarded as the world flattens.

What did you enjoy the most during your time at the Department of Management?

Living in London among friends. That’s an easy one. The nature of the LSE is that it disabuses you, rather quickly, of the idea that you’re the smartest person in any room you enter. That can be disorienting at first, but shortly after surviving the initial shock you realize what it means: That every room you walk into—be it a classroom or a pub—carries inside it an opportunity to learn. Arguments I first had at the LSE created friendships I still have today.

Outside of your day job, what other interests or activities do you take part in?

Well, I’m lucky in that my hobby (thinking about baseball) is now also one of my jobs. What little time I have after I finish up my work at Abt generally goes towards baseball. What time I have available after that is generally divided between spending time with my girlfriend, reading rather a lot of books, and darkly contemplating the dearth of interesting movies to watch on Netflix.

What advice would you give to current Management students?

Spend more time listening than you do talking. It’s good advice everywhere (although somewhat gender-specific; men are often given more credit for their silence than women are), but I think it’s particularly good advice at the LSE, where nearly everyone has something interesting to say. And when you listen, listen for the way in which what is being said is being said, and not just what is being said. So much of the beauty of the programme you’re in is that you’re surrounded by those from other countries and cultures; learning to love and understand one another is, to my mind, one of the best things you can do right now.

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement so far?

I don’t know if it makes sense to talk of a “greatest achievement” at age 24. There’s the question right there, though, so here’s an answer: I was proud to cover the 2016 World Series on-site for Baseball Prospectus, and be on the field and in the locker room at Wrigley Field on the occasion of the Chicago Cubs’ first victory in a World Series game in over seven decades (they went on to win the Series, for the first time in over a century). That’s a feeling I’ll never forget.”