Claire Chaumont

Research manager, National institute of Public health (Mexico)

MSc Health Policy, Planning and Financing, 2011

I graduated from Sciences Po in 2007, from which I got a Master in Finance and Strategy. After graduation, I worked for several years in a consulting firm in France, doing organisational management for hospitals and health institutions. In 2010, I felt I needed to get additional training in the field I had interest in, so I enrolled in a Master of Health policy, planning and financing at LSE and LSHTM. Since then, I have worked as a research manager at the National institute of Public health in Mexico, where I mostly work on costing and health economics research studies in Africa and Latin America. I’ve also done several consultancies for UN organizations and NGOs.

Has your career path developed as you planned?

I knew I wanted to work in international development but I never had a specific career path in mind. Instead, I worked step by step to acquire new skills or to study a topic I had interest in. I think the key is to be prepared but flexible. The right opportunities will come but you should be ready for them.   

Tell us about your current job

My main duty is to coordinate an important national-level research study on costs and technical efficiency in five African countries. As such, I manage the activities of my team, and work with local governments, academic partners and our funding agency to ensure the project develops well and work is delivered on time. I’m involved in all stages of the research: protocol and instruments development, sample selection, training and pilot, data collection, data analysis, reports and academic articles writing. On top of this, I’m also involved in several other research projects in Brazil and Mexico. I also occasionally teach for graduate students and health professionals.  

I would say my work is 40% project management and implementation, 40% technical work and 20% teaching or preparing for conferences or talks. It requires being organised and rigorous, but also flexible: I work with 10 different countries, and people from various backgrounds, and things never go as planned!  

Why did you choose this job?   

I moved to Mexico barely speaking any Spanish, and convinced my first position would have little to do with my training and level of experience. But when I arrived at my institute to work on my final dissertation for LSE, one big project in Africa was about to start, and they were looking for someone trained in health finance and health policy, who spoke French and English and with good management skills. That was the perfect fit.

What do you like most about your job? Is there anything that you dislike?

I love that my work is intellectually stimulating. There is a lot to learn both in health policy and health economics. I also love that I get to work with such great people from which I’ve learned a lot. I love to interact with institutions from all over the world, and get the chance to travel to different places and see how health is implemented in different countries. Finally, I think the work we are doing can really make a different in how health systems are organized, and this is incredibly rewarding.

I don’t like the bureaucracy and how things can be so slow and complicated when they shouldn’t be. Working in multicultural environment can also be tough sometimes, because you constantly have to adjust to different ways of working. 

What career plans do you have for the future?  

I’m applying for a Doctorate in Public Health (DrPH) next year, and I’m hoping to continue working part-time while studying.

Thinking back, why did you choose your degree subject and why did you choose LSE?  

I wanted to remain in Europe, and get a degree in an English-speaking university, so LSE & LSHTM were just the best options in my field.

How has your time at LSE helped you so far in your career? 

My masters in London helped me tremendously in my career, maybe not so much for what I’ve learned, but for helping me understand my field, and get a sense of the different topics/ activities/actors it was composed of. This means I was able to go out by myself after the Master and look for the information in the right place.

Also, the students were really diverse (more than 20 nationalities) and almost all had extensive work experience prior to the Master. I made really good friends and we all still stay in touch. It’s nice to have friends in your field with who you can bounce ideas.

What advice would you give to prospective or current LSE students?   

LSE offers a lot of conferences, extra-curriculum activities, etc. so I would recommend students to not only go to class, but also to attend these events. Also, read all the lectures! Of course, you can get by, by doing the minimum, but the teaching is so interesting, you should really take advantage of it. And finally, download all the articles and keep all the material given to you for after the Master. You never know when you might need it again (probably sooner than you think).

Overall, how do you look back on your LSE experience?

I would definitely recommend the Master in Health policy planning and financing to anyone interested in health policy and health financing. You get training from two amazing schools, the classes are really good quality and the students are awesome! I had a great time in London.


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