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Atif thumbnailAtif joined the Pensim2 team within the
Department for Work and Pensions DWP. Pensim2 is the department’s model used to estimate the impact of reforms to state and private pensions on pensioners over the next 100 years.

Atif made an outstanding contribution to his placement company and as a result, won the prize for the best placement student within The Business School.

“On my second day I began to learn the statistical software SAS from manuals my manager had acquired and therefore I did not need to go on the expensive three-day course which is normally prescribed for new starters. Also it meant that I was eligible to attend advanced SAS courses within my first few months.

My line manager and I agreed that I could go to as many seminars as possible as long as it didn’t affect my work. This meant I was able to attend multiple guest speaker talks, economics help and discussion sessions, statistical support classes and bigger events like the IFS Green Budget.

Around half way into my placement I began to organise Ministerial Question Time, when one of the Department’s ministers would speak to the analytical community and they could ask them questions. It received brilliant feedback from staff and the ministers.

This led me to shadow the Minister for Pension’s team for a day. I improved my time management and organisational skills as I organised different corporate activities. These included trips to Parliament and the Foreign Office and helping the development of the analytical community’s recruitment and networking strategies.

The most challenging aspect of my role was that I was tasked with a complete overhaul of the team’s Standard Tables which are used by policy analysts to see the effects of possible reforms. This required me to gain an expert knowledge of Visual basic and had to gain greater knowledge of the ins and outs of the model. I had to liaise with different model developers and users to ensure I could create an easy to use, robust but detailed tool.

My second big challenge was that I was asked to help the team update the model’s base data in time for the 2015 General Election. This was a huge task which my line manager had never expected any student to be able to contribute towards.

I was given my own data source to be acquainted with and be able to know every detail and quirk. I then had to update pre-existing code to keep up with changes to the data source. This led me to gaining a greater knowledge of how the model was created and also the complexities within the Private Pensions system.”

By Atif Deshmukh, BA (Hons) Economics

Originally published on The Business School Blog

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