Louise Sullivan

Louise worked in the food industry for ten years before her doctorate. After finishing doctorate, she began working in a statistics department.

"Before my doctorate I worked in the food industry for ten years after completing my degree in food science. I had wanted to change careers and move into social research for some time, and studied part-time for a Masters degree in social research. I thoroughly enjoyed the course and applied for ESRC funding for a doctorate. If I had not received funding, I would have used my Masters to get a job in social or market research directly.

"I studied for my doctorate in the Department of Sociology at Surrey University. My thesis drew on the meritocracy debate and identified a new way of measuring and describing social mobility, using second generation structural equation modelling. I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a student, and the freedom the doctorate gave me to explore in detail a subject I was fascinated in. There is nothing I would change about my time as a doctoral student, I attended loads of really interesting training courses and had a brilliant three years. I would recommend making the most of all the training opportunities you get. Once you start work, you will not have the time, and your employer will only want to fund courses that are directly relevant to their business.

"After finishing my doctorate, I took a job in market research, working in a statistics department. Within academia I found the obligation to publish in academic journals very off-putting and was keen to follow my interest in social research. However, my first job after graduating from my doctorate was purely number crunching, and none of the high-end statistical skills I learnt were put into practice.

"I then moved to Ipsos MORI where I have been for the last 18 months. My job covers all aspects of the research process, from proposal writing to job costing, project management, report writing and presenting. There is more client involvement than in my previous role, and the breadth of projects and public sector clients makes it much more interesting. I have been able to draw on the writing skills and literature review skills developed during my doctorate. I have done some analysis, but my job essentially involves project management and client liaison."