By Martin Christiansen
This time around we meet Emily Cochran Bech, the American who came to Denmark with a Ph.D. from Columbia University. She joined our Social & Economic Impacts team in Aarhus.
Learn more Emily in this interview:
What do you work with?
My work has a special focus on immigrant-integration policy and practice in Denmark and the Nordic countries, but I’m also working on projects across sectors like education, vulnerable children, healthcare practices and sustainability. Methods-wise, I work primarily with surveys and survey experiments, but do other kinds of social and policy analysis as well.
What made you want to join Ramboll Management Consulting?
Three things really; Firstly, I wanted to work with more applied projects where I can see how my work can be directly used to improve society and secondly I was excited to work in a more team-oriented approach.
Finally, and not least, Ramboll’s company values and ambitions to make society sustainable in a broad sense really resonate with me.
What is the most significant professional experience you have had so far?
I have this ‘aha’ experience that got stuck with me. It was one of the first times I conducted cognitive interviews to test a survey – where you run through a survey using a personal interview to learn how people are actually understanding and interacting with the questions.
I interviewed a young Muslim woman and asked a question about ‘how religious’ she was. She answered ‘low’ on the scale which surprised me. But hearing her response made me ask more questions, and in our conversation, I realised that the fact that she took her religion seriously made her apply a higher standard for what ‘being religious’ means and by this she answered ‘low’ on the scale! So, the question clearly wasn’t working. Sometimes in-depth interviewing makes our quantitative measures better (and vice versa).
What are the most exciting development within your field of work?
I would say the huge potential to gather reactions and opinions from more people, more easily – with online connectivity becoming more universal, and collection platforms simpler. We can get better, broader data, over time. We can also tailor conditions, languages and more to individual respondents. The major challenge is, though, that people’s attention is in high demand, so it’s also more challenging to get people to participate.
How are you planning on bringing this fact to our clients?
We can be more and more precise about who we recruit to respond to surveys – so our clients get ideas and responses from the people they really care about learning from. The data is more pinpointed to what they need to know, and the cost is more effective.
How do you define the higher purpose of what you do?
I want to be a part of making our world a place where more and more people have a chance to really prosper – improving our society and its systems is a big part of making that happen.
What or who is your best source of inspiration?
One of my favorite writers is Abraham Joshua Heschel, who was a theologian and civil rights leader alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the 1960s. Heschel wrote once, “The opposite of good is not evil. It is indifference.” If we’re going to make our world work better and be better, we have to get up each day and care about it, and the people in it.
At my desk I always have…?
Headphones for music - sometimes classical, sometimes jazz, and for a whole month of the year, Christmas music. When I had a fixed desk, I also had a bobble-head of Barack Obama.
If I had the skills, I would love to be…?
An architect designing a world-class building. It’s hard not to be in awe of the work they do.
Facts about our recent joiner
Emily Cochran Bech
Ph.D., Senior Consultant
Joining from Aarhus University serving as an Assistant Professor of Political Science for four years (2014-18).
Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York with the Dissertation titled: Voice and Belonging: How Open vs. Restricted Models of National Incorporation Shape Immigrant-Minority Identification and Participation.