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What your job says about you

Following the Jami-Lee Ross controversy, there was a lot of attention on the study by BPR’s Mark Blackham and academic Geoffrey Miller into the work experience and education of MPs.

We studied the backgrounds of MPs for the same reason we examine the audiences of any client; to understand how they think and act. The better you know people, the more effective your communication will be.

We chose to look at careers, work experience and education of MPs because these are pivotal experiences in all our lives. Choice of work illustrates what we’re interested in and how we think about the world. We are, in turn, shaped by the people and experiences we encounter through work.

Our experience at work influences what we assume other people are like, and how they will act. MPs will carry these lessons into their political lives.

We can, for example, judge whether employment trained MPs in patience, or made them distrustful; or whether it suggests they like evidence, numbers and concrete realities or anecdote and imagination; or whether they tend toward collaboration and consensus rather than independence.

What does the work and academic career of Jami-Lee Ross say about how to communicate with him? Try it out for yourself; he had a disrupted early life and went to Dilworth School. His only educational qualification is from Ardmore Flying School (no high school or tertiary qualification). His only work has been in politics, joining the National Party when he was 17. He was on the Manukau City Council at 18, worked as an electorate secretary in Pakuranga for MP Maurice Williamson. He was elected MP for Botany in 2011 when he was 25 years old.

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