Anam loves everything about Macquarie. From the support and kindness of past teachers and mentors in Economics, to the friendly and cheerful campus environment and the lake area. It’s this feeling that there is no other university quite like it that has kept her coming back.
Anam’s connection spans a long history. She started her undergraduate studies in Economics and Applied Finance 17 years ago in 2005. Since then, she’s completed a Master of Economics, Master of Research and recently finished her PhD in Policy Evaluation and Causal Inference.
Between degrees she spent six years working as a Senior Economist and Manager at Deloitte Access Economics on a variety of projects in health economic evaluation and burden of disease.
Anam jokes that people think being a ‘Health Economist’ is about ‘economising on your health’ when really her research has seen her investigate some fascinating projects – including the mental health impacts of government-paid parental leave in Australia, how older Australians make financial decisions when entering aged care and whether government policies have encouraged people to purchase private health insurance.
In her current position as a Research Fellow at Macquarie University Centre for the Health Economy (MUCHE) and through the receipt of a 2022 MQ Covid Recovery Fellowship, Anam is now exploring government policies in Australian aged care and the consumer demand for different types of care. This sees her analysing large datasets on 1000s of individuals to evaluate the causal effects of different Australian policies on health and health care system outcomes.
Her doctoral research on the mental health impacts of Australia’s paid parental leave policy has been covered prominently in the media and as policy commentary, as has her research on government intervention in private health insurance.
In her spare time she likes to spend time with her husband and eight year old daughter and enjoys running.
1. Something you’d like staff to know about
For those wanting to learn more about health economics, MUCHE provides training on the economic evaluation of health care interventions and programs as an in-person introductory course. The course is called Introduction to health economic evaluation and it is targeted at policy makers, clinicians and other health care workers, managers and researchers from the public, private and academic sectors with little to no experience in economic evaluation. My colleagues, Associate Professor Bonny Parkinson and Dr Antonio Ahumada-Canale are running this course in September, so if you want to learn about key concepts in health economics and how they can inform policy decisions – check it out on our website (under the ‘training’ tab).
2. Something you feel proud of
I am proud of being from a family where the pursuit of education is considered a noble cause. My great-grandfather went to England by ship from India to study Law at Lincoln’s Inn and become a barrister. My grandfather, an aeronautical engineer, also went to England and was a student of Sir Frank Whittle, the inventor of the turbojet engine.
My father, a civil engineer, flew from Pakistan to the US to undertake his Masters, while doing odd jobs to make ends meet as a student. I am privileged to have been raised in Australia and to have been able to pursue education to my heart’s content.
By extension of this question, I am extremely grateful for the encouragement and recognition from Macquarie University on my doctoral research. In 2020 I was the recipient of an MQBS Award for Research Excellence in Economics, and in 2021 I was a Highly Commended Finalist for Excellence in Higher Degree Research and this year I received an MQBS Impact Story Prize.
3. A person you admire at Macquarie, and why
There are too many to name one. I have great admiration and respect for my past teachers in Economics, my mentors and supervisors and anyone who has supported or encouraged me, personally and professionally, during my time at Macquarie.
4. What you need to do your best work
After having completed a long run in the morning, I only ask for an XL jumbo skim cappuccino, my daughter at school, my headphones in, and some undisrupted time to focus on my research.
5. Something people usually ask you when they find out what you do for living
When people find out I’m an economist, they usually ask me what is going to happen to ‘the economy’ or interest rates. When I tell them I am a health economist, I either get blank stares or strange comments – no, I am not trying to ‘economise’ on your health (LOL). Health economics is about supporting the allocation of valuable resources in the health care system to their best fit, to reduce wastage and maximise outcomes including population health and wellbeing!
6. A favourite photo from your camera roll
I am going to cheat and pick two. These pictures show that my daughter has very much been a part of my academic journey. The first is from my Master of Economics graduation in 2014 when my daughter was a few months old and the second is from my PhD graduation photos with my now 8 year old.
People always comment that it must have been hard to pursue further education while being a mum, and it truly was! However, I honestly believe I would not have been able to do my PhD if it wasn’t for my daughter. Raising her has taught me so much about myself, the good and the bad, and has given me the strength and perseverance to undertake further study. She is the biggest blessing in my life.
7. Your definition of success
Achieving a good balance, personally, professionally and spiritually, and being able to enjoy and cherish all these facets of life.
8. The first person you go to for advice (and why)
My husband – at face value, he is a goofball, but he always encourages me, makes me laugh and gives me great advice. He is often able to make me see things from a different perspective, which can be very valuable when I’m stuck in a mental rut.
9. A personal quality you value in others
Kindness and humility (and a sense of humour) are always a good combination.
10. I’m happiest when…
I’m spending time with my husband and my daughter on the weekend – usually nothing fancy, just taking my daughter to swimming lessons and the park and chilling out with a large cup of coffee at a café. For me, it’s bliss.