DP Alumna Simone Schotte works as a Research Consultant at United Nations World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER). Learn more about her current job and her time at the GIGA in this interview.
Simone Schotte completed her PhD on "Poverty, Social Mobility, and the Middle Class: The Case of South Africa" at the GIGA in 2018. She is now working as a Research Consultant at United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER).
What do you like most about your current job?
I very much enjoy the freedom to conduct research on topics that I feel passionate about. I value being part of an organization that places high value on policy relevance and provides a forum to reach both academic and non-academic audiences. One of the most remarkable aspects of UNU-WIDER is its network character, which has offered me the opportunity to connect and collaborate with researchers across the globe.
Were you clear about what you wanted to do after your PhD or was your career path more by chance? One of my main professional goals is to be able to conduct research that is relevant from both an academic and a real-world perspective. This has motivated my decision to join the GIGA doctoral programme as well as my subsequent career choices. At this point, while aiming to continue this general path, I remain open to shifting toward a yet more applied and policy-oriented career or a more academic career track. Which moment during your doctoral studies was the most memorable? The most memorable experience that continues to shape my work was the opportunity to conduct a mixed-method research project in South Africa. Over the course of three months, my coauthor and I conducted interviews in Khayelitsha, a township just outside Cape Town. This experience left a mark on how I think about my main areas of research – including economic development, inequality, poverty, and vulnerability –– and I will always remember some of the people and their life stories. How did your time at the GIGA influence you as a person and in terms of your career planning? One of the most valuable aspects of doing my PhD at the GIGA was the great community of doctoral students and other colleagues, coming from different cultural and disciplinary backgrounds. Beyond finding many wonderful friends, I believe that this experience has shaped the ways in which I think and communicate about my research, and allowed me to become more sensitive to and place greater value on diversity in all areas of life.