Spotlight: Alison Connor (Zambia Associate Director)
What was your background before joining IDinsight? Why did you decide to join?
Immediately prior to joining IDinsight, I was completing my PhD in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, with a focus on maternal health. After completing my degree, I was looking for a job that would further my experience in evaluation approaches and build my management skills. Having worked in both public health program delivery and in research, I saw a clear need for the services that IDinsight provide. Finally, I was excited to work with such a dynamic group of young, dedicated professionals.
During your time at IDinsight, where have you been based and what kind of projects have you worked on?
I have been based in Zambia throughout my tenure, which has given me the opportunity to see different parts of the country. I have managed and provided technical support on a number of projects in the health, agriculture, and social protection sectors. Some of these projects have been RCTs, others have been willingness-to-pay studies and process evaluations. Each project has been unique in its own way.
What do you feel you have gained from working at IDinsight? What about the experience has been the most rewarding?
I have definitely gained a lot from working here. IDinsight is a learning organization, which means that there is plenty of room to contribute to strategic thinking, to build out new systems that strengthen the organization, and to explore new projects and services. There have been many exciting aspects of the job, but the most rewarding part for me has been working with associates – each and every associate is young, talented, genuine, and excited to learn. It has been just a pleasure to work with them and to witness their professional growth over their tenure with IDinsight. I have also learned a lot from them!
How would you describe a typical week at IDinsight? What is the range of things you might work on?
Every week is different at IDinsight! The work plan for the week depends a lot on where in the project cycle the projects on which I am working are. Some things that you might find me doing include: overseeing office operations, conducting client meetings, designing evaluations with associates, completing analyses, reviewing .do files or technical documents, designing technical trainings, visiting the field, or disseminating findings to stakeholders.
How would you describe the culture at IDinsight?
The IDinsight culture is young and professional. The “young” aspect of it means that we are all learning-oriented. We are focused on our own professional growth and invest in others’ professional growth. This translates into an open, collaborative, and learning-oriented environment. We also all genuinely like each other and enjoy working together. The “professional” aspect of it means that we place high priority on producing quality work for our clients. We have high standards and work hard to meet them.
What’s are some specific things you feel that you’ve learned during your time working at IDinsight?
I have learned how to be a better manager. Working with different personalities and work styles is not always easy, especially when working against a deadline, but I have learned how to adapt to others’ personalities and to shift my managerial style depending on the situation at-hand. IDinsight has also provided an opportunity to get to know a diverse set of stakeholders, to understand their needs and priorities, and to learn about how they work.
How do you like to spend your free time? What would your “perfect weekend” look like?
My perfect weekend would be spent traveling somewhere new, either with friends or by myself. I would bring a book, my camera, and no cellphones or laptops!
What’s your favorite book that you’ve read this year?
Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand