Alumni Destinations: “How I became a Policy Analyst.”

30 May 2018

Ruby Hale, alumna from our inaugural 2013 Cohort, is currently working as an Assistant Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Education. Here, she shares a few words about her journey, her motivations, and some advice to live by.

Kia ora! Tell us a bit about yourself. 

Kia ora.
Ko Aoraki te maunga
Ko ōtākaro te awa
Ko Ngati Pākeha te iwi
Ko Hale taku ingoa whānau
Nō Ōtautahi ahau
Kei Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara taku kainga

Ko Ruby taku ingoa.

My name’s Ruby, and I’m an alumna of Teach First NZ: Ako Mātātupu’s inaugural 2013 Cohort, where I taught English at Alfriston College in Manurewa. I’m currently working as an Assistant Policy Analyst at the Ministry of Education. 

What drew you into this sector?

Originally, I had a strong interest in aid and development, and was really fascinated by issues of global inequality. Working with the Salvation Army in Christchurch really brought to my attention the issues of inequality and inequity in Aotearoa. I saw education as having the potential to be used as a tool to promote equity, and for giving people opportunities to make positive changes in life. Throughout my time as a participant and an alumna of the Teach First NZ Programme, I always maintained an interest in the bigger systems and structures of the education system and their role in either promoting equity or perpetuating inequity, or both. After completing further study in Public Policy, I’ve made the move into the Policy space, working in the Pasifika Education Policy team at the Ministry of Education. I see Policy as an opportunity to make sure that the education system is responsive to everybody, and to ensure that it gives everybody a fair and equitable chance. As it stands, there’s more work to be done. 

What would be your #1 piece of advice for people who want to make a difference?

Demystify ‘Policy’ for us. What does your average day look like?

Every day’s different and surprising! Here’s a ‘dear diary’-esque play-by-play of yesterday:

8.40am Arrive at work and make a cup of tea, say hello to my colleagues and catch up on what we did in our respective weekends.
9.00am Start reading emails, checking the library alerts to see if there is anything relevant I should read.
9.15am Receive a ‘Rapid Response’ from the Minister’s office. This means you drop anything you are doing and focus completely on this. Today the Associate Minister’s office needs a series of bullet points on a range of topics to prepare her for a media interview.
9.30am Call the Communications teams to discuss what we can include in the information we provide to the Associate Minister. Someone else in my team goes downstairs to get relevant information on NCEA from the group in charge of Student Achievement.
10.00am Continue preparing bullet points whilst waiting for relevant information from other teams. Make my second cup of tea for the day. Once all the information is collated it needs to be signed out by a number of different people.
11.20am Send bullet points to the Comms team to get them to sign off. It needs to be seen by three people. Two people come back to give their approval, the third is still working on it.
11.50am The third person is still reviewing the bullets. Start to get frantic, the response is due at midday. I print off the current version and take it to the relevant bosses to start reading. I make a third cup of tea while I wait and start eating lunch at my desk.
12.15pm The final approval from Comms arrives, a series of edits are needed. It’s already overdue. I make the edits, print it again, realise there is a spelling error, print it again and teacher speed walk it back to the Deputy Secretary for sign out. She approves.
1.00pm Rapid response has just gone over to the Minister’s office so time to start responding to new emails and reading policy briefs from other teams that are relevant to my work.
1.30pm My manager comes to tell me I will be going to the Minister’s meeting this afternoon with the bosses to answer questions on an Education Report I wrote. Mild panic ensues. This is the first Minister’s meeting I have attended and it is unlikely I will get to be at another one any time soon.
2.00pm I spend the next couple of hours re-reading my report and the research behind it so that I am prepared to answer the Minister’s questions. I make my fourth cup of tea.
3.30pm My manager and I head to Parliament, through security and into the circular room with a series of lifts around the room and high ceilings. I awkwardly joke about being in the Department of Mysteries. We head up to the Minister’s office.
4.00pm We meet with the Minister but the agenda is too long and we don’t end up having time to discuss my report. I feel quietly relieved and now I feel better about what to expect next time I go over. We head back to the Ministry.
4.30pm Our team of three finishes the day by meeting with a Senior Manager from the Data group to discuss another project we are working on for the Minister. I wish I had made a fifth cup of tea.
5.00pm Time to pack up and go home!

- Ruby Hale, as told to Sophie Jones