Imperial College London

Q and A: Economics Professor Carol Propper talks about new Business School role

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Carol Propper

Carol Propper, Professor of Economics at Imperial College Business School has become the School's first female Associate Dean of Faculty and Research.

As part of her role, she is responsible for hiring world-class researchers and increasing the research output of the Business School, as part of a strategy to continue growing Imperial’s reputation within business research and education.

Professor Propper spoke to Laura Singleton about her vision for research and teaching at the Business School and gave an insight into how Business School academics are working to solve major societal challenges.

Tell me about your new role?

I’m responsible for helping our academics get the support they need to pursue the research that’s most important to them and to the Business School. A key part of my role is to hire new academics to build up our number of world-class researchers across the Business School, as part of a long term growth strategy.  We currently have 70 faculty members, so attracting and retaining new talent is key to increasing our reputation as a research-lead global business school.

As the only female professor at the Business School, I also take an active role in helping increase the visibility of female academics across the Business School and ensuring their needs are met. In the past I was also involved in trying to promote gender equality in economics in the UK. Economics is still a largely male dominated field at the senior end, so I’m part of a growing movement to make sure women are properly represented.

I was delighted when the Business School was recently awarded a Bronze Athena SWAN Award for gender equity, which reflects the hard work we’re doing to tackle gender inequality within business education. It’s important that we’re all aware of diversity issues and that little as well as big things matter – for example, we need to make sure that when teaching or presenting our research we reflect our diversity aspirations. I recently found out that all the cartoon images in my presentations for the general public were of men – so now they are of women!

I believe that only by bringing together expertise from different disciplines can we solve today’s global challenges.

– Professor Carol Propper

Professor of Health Economics, Imperial College Business School

What do you focus on in your own research?

I'm a health economist and my work focusses on the impact of incentives on the quality and productivity of healthcare, the impact of environmental factors on health and the effect of market incentives on the production of public services.

How is the Business School contributing to Imperial’s mission to address major global challenges?

We are tackling global issues through our own research and through collaborations with other research teams across the College. For example, using Imperial’s Data Observatory, we are exploring how big data can help businesses stay competitive in a global market and how, through turning data into visual images, we can identify global trends from money laundering to the volume of tweets sent on the night of the US election. We are also tackling the economic impact of health, including obesity and malnutrition, and looking at whether measures such as a sugar tax will help in improving people’s health and putting less strain on the NHS.

The global impact of climate change is another key area that we’ve been exploring in a number of ways. This includes researching how climate change affects people’s health across the globe including the impact on hospital operations. We recently opened a new research centre, supported by the Grantham Institute, which is designed to help businesses make better green investment decisions. I believe that only by bringing together expertise from different disciplines can we solve today’s global challenges.

What's your vision for the research output for the School over the next few years?

We are already a leading research-lead business school, and our aim is to build on our current achievements so we can become bigger and more prominent among global business schools.

How do you think students benefit from being taught by leading researchers?

I think it’s a myth that you’re either a great researcher or a great teacher. In my experience, leading researchers often make the best teachers because they are intellectually curious and excited about what they do. This means that they challenge and inspire their students, who benefit from their guidance and outlook on the world.

Reporter

Laura Singleton

Laura Singleton
Communications Division

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