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Interview with Kate Miller

Behavioural Science is a rapidly expanding field and everyday new research is being developed in academia, tested and implemented by practitioners in financial organisation, development agencies, government ‘nudge’ units and more. This interview is part of a series interviewing prominent people in the field. And in today's interview the answers are provided by Kate Miller.

Kate leads the APAC Conduct & Behavioural Risk team for Citi, based in Singapore. Her work focuses on applying behavioural science for proactive risk management within Financial Services. She focuses on influencing sustainable decision making, delivering the best outcomes for customers and using behavioural re-design to make workplaces great. She has worked across a broad variety of Non-Financial risk roles across her career in Financial Services, alongside much shorter stints in Technology and Healthcare sectors. Kate has an MSc in Behavioural Science from London School of Economics and MSc in Int. Business from Birkbeck London and BSc from Curtin, Western Australia.


Who or what got you into behavioural science?

Earlier in my career I took a generic Masters and discovered some of the original thinkers on Decision Making and really loved it. I wrote my dissertation largely focused on Herbert Simon’s concept of Bounded Rationality. Looking at how this might influence decision making of senior management during the 2008 financial crisis, in a bank that I was working at the time. I ran some small (not particularly scientific) experiments with the bank’s leadership team for the paper.

I didn’t take studies further at the time but was always really interested in drivers of Decision Making and thinking about how these influence people in the workplace.

I was fortunate enough to be able to pick up studies again in the last few years via the EMSc Behavioural Science course with the LSE, this time getting a lot more scientific!!

I am inspired daily by the field, my fellow alumni, work colleagues and connections I have made over this period.

What is the accomplishment you are proudest of as a behavioural scientist? And what do you still want to achieve? I am still so new to the field, however I am really proud of work we were able to deliver at my previous organisation over the last couple of years. Working with an absolutely amazing team we ran numerous behavioural data & insights projects to identify and mitigate behavioural risks across the bank.

Alongside, we ran a 12mth mini-field trial, testing three behavioural interventions to improve the interactions between first and second lines of defence. (For non-banking readers this basically means interactions between teams focused on customers / clients and making revenues and teams focused on ensuring good levels of control and risk mitigation)

If you weren’t a behavioural scientist, what would you be doing?

Probably something with people. I actually started my career wanting to get into Occupational Therapy and my first professional job was in a Hospital. I have always really liked working with people and hopefully helping to find solutions to problems.

How do you apply behavioural science in your personal life?

Ha ha – well my husband & I are lucky to have twin 6 year olds boys, so we definitely deploy choice architecture around some key decisions we want the boys to make for themselves.

I am also highly susceptible to the influence of a commitment device – i.e. closing of rings on apple watch.

I have recently read Katy Milkman’s excellent book, How to Change, which is full of great strategies you can personally deploy to overcome some of life’s daily obstacles i.e. procrastination. Highly recommend.

With all your experience, what skills would you say are needed to be a behavioural scientist? Are there any recommendations you would make?

I will provide some ideas specifically focused on where we might want to deploy behavioural science from within organisations.

Communication skills are really important. We need to be able to translate the concepts and potentially multiple theories, into every day speak. Making these relevant and recognisable to existing processes and ways of working within the organisation.

Alongside, Keep it simple. We need to find a balance of sharing just the right amount of information, but not overwhelming people at the same time. For example, your stakeholders might not need to know about the statistics being run in the background, but let everyone feel actively involved in the scientific process.

How do you think behavioural science will develop (in the next 10 years)?

I’d love to see it deployed more readily across organisations big and small in the private / commercial sector. I think this is happening, but much slower that what we have seen in the public sector.

We know how important context is to understanding behaviour and being able to design effective interventions. Having these skills embedded throughout organisations can achieve better customer outcomes, make work more enjoyable for employees and enhance organisational effectiveness.

What advice would you give to young behavioural scientists or those looking to progress into the field?

It is always such a privilege to speak to people early in their career, looking for that first role or a next-step opportunity. I love hearing about different research interests and where people are keen to make a difference.

My advice is stay true to those areas you feel most passionate about and think about how these can translate into organisations. The drive and energy you naturally bring will really stick with people and opportunities will come. I think also networking on socials like LinkedIn helps to get & stay connected.

Which other behavioural scientists would you love to read an interview by?

Katy Milkman, John List & Chiara Varazzani are really high on the list, but perhaps a little closer to home – how about: Issac Barker (PhD) currently working at QBE Insurance.


Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Kate!

As I said before, this interview is part of a larger series which can also be found here on the blog. Make sure you don't miss any of those, nor any of the upcoming interviews!

Keep your eye on Money on the Mind!

Behavioural Science

Personal Finance



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