YPDaily: Robyn Sachs

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell. 
I am an evaluator, which is basically using social science research methods to learn about and improve programs that are taking place in real-world settings. I am currently working as a consultant with Cambridge Education, based in the UK, on an evaluation capacity building project in Delhi, India.  The project aims to teach staff in the primary education sector (mostly arms-length government) how to do evaluation. Basically, there are four different evaluation projects taking place during this year, and I support them in every way I can: with writing proposals, designing data collection instruments, analysing data, and writing reports.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route? 
I learned about evaluation during my Bachelors degree and decided it would be perfect for me. It’s technical in terms of data collection and analysis, but also highly practical and complex because it requires attention to context and inter-personal issues. Inspiration for my current job came from a desire to work outside of Canada while also working in my field and learning from some very experienced evaluators from all over the world. I feel exceptionally lucky for the opportunity!

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part? 
I love being able to learn about the education sector in India, through reading, helping to plan evaluations and working closely with staff. 

The most challenging part is that capacity building is not doing the work yourself, meaning that my job is not always clearly defined.  I find I have to work hard to find a balance of giving advice and support and not steering the evaluation work in a certain way just because that is how I would do something. There are also plenty of cultural differences to keep me challenged, from language to hierarchy to  complex systems and procedures.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 
I am planning to launch an independent consulting firm, where I work for myself but also collaborate with others I know who are already consultants or planning to start soon. I would like to work with a mix of non-governmental and government organizations and private business, on projects relating to human services and poverty reduction, health and education – I love and crave variety.

What does success look like to you?
Success in general is about good work-life balance, which is part of why independent consulting work appeals to me. I would like to choose my own schedule and make time for other important things in my life – like music, family and friends.

Success at work is about feeling challenged and being able to be creative to my full potential. It’s also about connecting with others and being able to learn from one another.  Most of all, I think we all feel the need for work that is meaningful in some way – which can range from just feeling useful to helping people think about something in a different way to actually helping something in the world to change for the better.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career? 
The first encounter I had with this project before my current position was a short-term contract. I thought it was a complete long shot to even apply, and then I ended up being one of a few evaluators to be brought on. And now I’m here for a long term contract, which has been amazing.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Always keep your eye open (and apply) for opportunities that interest you – if you don’t have the necessary education or experience, you can always work towards getting them. But you can’t get that dream job if you don’t even look.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you? 
I have supported organizations like the Mustard Seed and Oxfam in the past, and am currently setting my sites on the Acumen Fund, which invests donations into social enterprises and entrepreneurship. This idea excites me, because I think there is a lot of power to help address social problems to be harnessed in the private sector.

What to you is notable? 
Making an honest effort to live in a way that makes you feel passionate and helps bring out the passion in other people. We’re all guilty to some extent of letting that go in favour of other things: getting older, needing stability, etc.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?   
Other: non-smart phone. I’m old school.