Spotlight on Sarah Murray -Senior Behavioural Architect
What got you into BeSci originally ?
After getting my undergraduate degree in Psychology, I moved to London and ended up working in Finance. I enjoyed it, but I knew I wasn’t passionate enough to stay in that field for the long term, so after 4 years I started considering what I wanted to really do with my life. Whilst I’d been working in the City, I got interested in behavioural finance, as it was a pretty hot topic in the industry. It appealed to my interest in human nature and
seemed like a natural meshing of my interests at the time. From there, I discovered the world of behavioural science and was immediately hooked; it seemed like the perfect amalgamation of my skills. I immediately started looking for Masters programmes to further my knowledge, and ended up at UCL a year later, studying Behaviour Change.
How did you get your first job in BeSci ?
Luck and networking is the honest answer. Towards the end of my MSc, one of my friends put me in touch with the founder of a BeSci consultancy who were looking for an in-house researcher. I went for an interview, did a couple of example pieces of writing for them, and the rest is history.
I think that’s probably a frustrating answer because it’s difficult to replicate when there’s an element of luck. All I can say is that BeSci is still a relatively young field, so people tend to know one another. Interact with companies you admire and want to work for; Cowry host monthly ‘Under the Hood’ sessions for this very purpose.
What does your role in BeSci involve?
I lead a team of behavioural scientists, and our primary job is to develop and deliver interventions for clients that address specific challenges. My role in particular is quite strategic; figuring our exactly what the client wants and how we can deliver, and then managing the project and making sure everything runs smoothly. I also get involved in the actual behavioural science of course: identifying an appropriate behavioural model to guide our thinking, exploring what biases and heuristics could be affecting decision making at a given point in time, testing & iterating interventions, and more.
What are the most important lessons you've learnt in your BeSci career so far?
That nobody knows everything, that it’s exciting to continue learning, and that behavioural science can be applied to literally anything.
To the first part of my answer, I think when you’re starting out in any career there’s a sense that everyone else knows more than you. And in some ways, that’s true, experience counts for a lot. But it’s also reductive, no body knows everything, and we all have a unique perspective to bring to the table.
The best thing about behavioural science - in my opinion – is that it’s so interesting, and there’s always fresh research being conducted, so you can continue to learn and find new insights and inspiration. I feel very lucky to be working in a career that I genuinely enjoy and am passionate about.
How will your BeSci career grow in the future?
It’s difficult to think about the future when I’m so immersed in what I’m doing now! I’d love to do some longer timeline ‘build’ projects, where we work with clients to develop innovative products or solutions from scratch. I’m also really interested in the cross-cultural application of behavioural science so perhaps some work in that area… who knows really!