Bastien Michel (Grad. Year '09) - JPAL

1. Where do you come from? Could you tell us about your education and, in particular, about the track in which you were at the Paris School of Economics?

I grew up near Paris and studied Economics at the Ecole Normal Supérieure de Cachan (Economics and Management department) and then at the EHESS (Economic Analysis and Policy Master). 


2. Since your graduation at PSE, what kind of job have you had? According to you, what is the main value added that your education at PSE gave you?

Since I graduated in 2009, I have been working for J-PAL/IPA in different countries, mostly on the evaluation of health and education programs. For instance, I worked on the randomized evaluation of HIV prevention programs in Kenya with E. Duflo, P. Dupas and V. Sharma; an intensive tutoring program to fight early age school difficulties in France with D. Goux, M. Gurgand and E. Maurin; and making salt fortified in iron and iodine available to fight against nutritional deficiencies in India with A. Banerjee, S. Barnhardt & E. Duflo.

I think studying at PSE has been helpful in the sense that it gave me a strong basis in public policy evaluation and taught me intellectual rigour, both of which are particularly important for the positions I have occupied. Obviously, J-PAL Europe's proximity to the campus has also made my integration to J-PAL/IPA tremendously easier.


3. In your current position, what are the day-to-day challenges that your are facing?

Working for J-Pal as a Research Associate is an interesting experience as managing a project (which is why you are being hired) happens to mean a whole lot of different things. For example, managing a project means designing and piloting your data collection instruments (questionnaires, tests, etc.), ensuring that good quality data are collected in a timely manner by your team of surveyors (which can be as large as 100 individuals) and then entered, monitoring the good implementation of your intervention(s), while keeping a close eye on the budget and making sure the donors, partners and officials involved in the project are kept informed and happy. All of this often being done in an environment you know nothing about at first. As time goes by, you start working on more and more projects as a Research Manager, leaving the biggest share of the field work to RAs and spending more time on administrative and support activities. Needless to say that the experience can also be quite intense at times!